For decades, UCLA has stood as one of the world’s premier institutions for innovation and discovery, expanding the boundaries of human knowledge and shaping the future of our city and world. Today, we are called upon to respond to an unprecedented public health imperative, a call we are uniquely positioned to answer as we chart our path out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With its medical centers ranked No. 1 in California and No. 6 in the nation, UCLA Health is engaging in promising coordinated clinical and public health research in partnership with local and national government agencies and academic institutions to develop more effective treatment pathways to alleviate the human suffering caused by COVID-19. Cross-disciplinary faculty teams are further elevating UCLA’s research platforms and redefining our research landscape to mobilize expertise.
UCLA has been working closely with our sister UC campuses as well as Johns Hopkins University and the FDA to develop a program to:
UCLA is fielding large-scale studies of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic populations to answer fundamental questions, including: how many people have been infected; the degree to which asymptomatic persons are contagious; how long those who have been infected remain contagious after recovery; levels of immunity and durability after recovery from COVID-19 infection; why some individuals have mild illness while others become gravely ill; and how we can slow the spread. We currently have three projects in development to answer these questions:
UCLA’s clinical research enterprise rapidly mobilized during the first month of this crisis, successfully moving clinical trials from concept to clinic in record time. We now have several clinical trials open, with many more in the pipeline. Additionally, UCLA is developing and will clinically test the two most promising protein therapeutics, including a decoy to the coronavirus receptor and a neutralizing antibody to the coronavirus. This will be used for prophylactic and therapeutic interventions now and in future waves of the pandemic. With support, these efforts can be scaled and accelerated.
Successful treatment of COVID-19 is an essential element of our fight against this disease. While vaccines against the viral pathogen are currently in development, the date of their availability to patients is unclear. We do not yet know how effective or easily deployable the vaccines will be. In the meantime, there is an urgent need for therapeutic interventions to save the lives of infected individuals over the months and years to come.
We must scale and expand PCR testing so that we can know who is currently carrying the virus. This provides the clearest path for people to return to work and school; if we can test people for active infection at scale, we will be able to implement policies to allow society to reactivate. All of our testing is done in-house, with results available in less than 24 hours. With support, we will be positioned to increase our internal capacity and expand our efforts to local hospitals serving patients across Los Angeles. This will require purchasing new equipment, redeploying personnel, hiring additional personnel in preparation for a second surge, and expanding existing lab space.
Through antibody testing, we can identify individuals who were previously infected and presumably immune to new infection. Read more about UCLA's antibody testing here.
UCLA is preparing now for a COVID-19 resurgence in the months and years to come, as well as for any other emerging disease that threatens the population. Preparations include using the PCR and antibody tests outlined above and to explore the virus’s molecular microbiology.
This long-term and forward-thinking investment will lead to rapid: