Discovering cures for disease
The Brain Research Institute
The Brain Research Institute is dedicated to research, education, and outreach by providing support for new and ongoing, cross-campus neuroscience-related initiatives.
Members of the Brain Research Institute (BRI) are self-organized into the Integrative Centers Learning and Memory, Addiction, Neurogenetics and Neural Repair, and the Center for Neurotechnology.
The BRI supports the undergraduate and graduate Neuroscience Interdepartmental Programs (uNSIDP and gNSIDP). BRI members teach the majority of the core courses in these programs and offer additional electives. The BRI supports the administration of T32 training grants, most recently the “Training in Neurotechnology Translation” training grant.
The BRI supports and administers three summer research programs for undergraduates from across the nation with the goal of increasing graduate enrollment of traditionally excluded students. BRI-affiliated researchers are involved in K-12 outreach programs such as Brain Awareness Week, Interaxon, and Project Brainstorm.
- Held a two-day conference, “Human Single Neuron”
- Held a one-day symposium, “Integrative Center for Learning and Memory”
- Receipt of two major gifts from the Lily M. Griffiths 2010 Living Trust and from the Roberto Family Trust
- Received a Dana Foundation planning grant to establish a Center for Neuroscience and Society
- Welcomed 18 new BRI members
- Partnered with the Department of Neurobiology to successfully recruit a new faculty member through the Rising to the Challenge initiative
- Partnered with the Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology and the Institute for Society and Genetics to successfully hire two new faculty through the Rising to the Challenge initiative
- Weekly Joint Seminars in Neuroscience Series
Helping lead the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) landmark artificial intelligence (AI) initiative through the Bridge2AI Integration, Dissemination, and Evaluation (Bridge) Center, our faculty are shaping the future of how AI and other data-driven techniques are developed, evaluated, and used to improve health and healthcare delivery.
Through this effort, novel data and methods will be created that pave the way for innovative ways to screen, diagnose, and optimize treatments.
The UCLA Institute for Precision Health (IPH) continues to serve as a nexus for interdisciplinary collaboration across DGSOM, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA Health System, and the University.
IPH collaborators made substantial progress in launching transformative scientific programs and industry collaborations and expanding several leading signature programs, including the ATLAS Community Health Initiative, CA Center for Rare Diseases (CCRD), and California Center for Smart Health (CSH). We highlight our progress below, starting with our scientific and research programs, as they are our major focus, followed by progress in education and scholarship.
- Enrolled more than 145,000 patients into the ATLAS Community Health Initiative and Precision Health Biobank. Fifty-seven percent of patients enrolled are non-white, making the ATLAS precision health biobank one of the most diverse resources for scientific discovery and innovation from a single institution.
- Generated exome sequencing data for 41,000 ATLAS patient samples that will be made available to UCLA researchers.
- Developed extensive protocols for returning clinically actionable results to patients enrolled in ATLAS. We expect the first return of results to begin in 2023.
- Established the Ginsburg UCLA Human Pluripotent Stem Cell and Genome Engineering Lab (CRISPR).
- Launched the Women’s Cancer Family History Cohort Study.
- The CCRD launched an International Undiagnosed Disease Clinic.
- The CSH established the national Hearst Health Prize in Data Science in partnership with Hearst Health.
- Awarded the first Ginsburg Fellowship in Genomic Medicine.
- Graduated the inaugural class of 10 genetic counselors from the Master’s Program in Genetic Counseling.
- Established a division of Clinical genetics within the department of Human Genetics, which will launch with a new director in 2023.
UCLA AIDS Institute
Preeminent investigators at the UCLA AIDS Institute are dedicated to conducting high-impact multidisciplinary research aimed at preventing new HIV infections, reducing morbidity, and ultimately developing cure strategies for those living with HIV.
The UCLA AIDS Institute works with other programs at UCLA to create synergy among diverse research disciplines, such as infectious diseases, cancer, microbiology, and public health, that results in significant advances in understanding, preventing, and treating HIV infection with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for HIV.
- UCLA faculty members successfully competed for more than $88 million in funding for research projects focused on HIV/AIDS from National Institutes of Health (NIH); faculty have also garnered additional funding from other sources such as CIRM (California Institute for Regenerative Medicine), amfAR (The American Foundation for AIDS Research), and the Campbell Foundation.
- The UCLA AIDS Institute facilitated the submission and award of the UCLA-CDU Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) (a $12 million five-year NIH grant). This is a multi-project research program involving collaborations among UCLA, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, and other UCLA-affiliated academic institutions.
- At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCLA AIDS Institute’s facilities and key equipment remained a key resource available for “essential research” continuing during the shutdown. Several laboratories, including AIDS Institute research groups that pivoted their focus to COVID-19 research, were able to provide important contributions to the fight against COVID-19, such as one of the first publications suggesting that immunity would be short-lived.
UCLA–Optum Labs collaboration on AI in healthcare
The UCLA Department of Computational Medicine is spearheading a new collaboration with Optum Labs, the research and development arm of UnitedHealth Group, to study how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to personalize treatments and improve care costs and quality.
UCLA Kidney Transplant Tolerance Program
The UCLA Kidney Transplant Tolerance Program is dedicated to liberating patients from the burden of immunosuppression after a kidney transplant. By using donor stem cells, we can induce an immunological tolerance, which allows well-selected patients to be gradually weaned off immunosuppression. This has long been thought of as the pinnacle of kidney transplantation.
Our program has made major recent strides:
- We have enrolled and initiated tolerance protocols in six haploidentical sibling kidney donor-recipient pairs. All patients enrolled met their study milestones. Two have been taken off immunosuppression completely and maintained excellent kidney function. Three recipients are on low doses of single-agent therapy and are on the way to being liberated from all immunosuppressive medication. Our sixth and final patient was recently transplanted and is following the same timeline.
- The UCLA Kidney Transplant Tolerance Program became the first and only tolerance program in the country to obtain Medicare approval, which greatly offsets otherwise prohibitive costs and facilitates access to a more diverse population of patients.
- Our next step is opening the “retroactive” tolerance trial, in which patients with a pre-existing kidney transplant will undergo tolerance induction and stem cell infusion months to years after receiving a kidney transplant. We have FDA and IRB approval to perform this on well-matched sibling pairs.
- We are grateful for the funding to date from OneLegacy Foundation, Connie Frank Foundation, and various philanthropic gifts.
- The UCLA Kidney Transplant Tolerance Program opened the “Immunosuppression Free Kidney Transplant” website to provide patients access to information and a point of contact. The website can be found here.