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Desert Horse-Grant Sr. Director, Research and Innovation UCLA Health / DGSOM
Desert Horse-Grant is the senior director of research and innovation for UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In this role, she provides an organizational bridge that supports transformational initiatives focused on research innovation and commercialization.
In her first year, she helped create a single point of entry for faculty entrepreneurs and advocated for the need to narrow the funding gap between academic research and commercialization. As part of that effort, Desert and her colleagues at UCLA Health / David Geffen School of Medicine collaborated with the Technology Development Group, the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the university’s divisions of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences to present the first campus-wide biomedical competition to advance novel therapeutics, medical devices/diagnostics, and digital health technologies.
Innovation & Technology at UCLA Health
Before her UCLA position, Desert directed Strategy & Operations for Seattle Translational Tumor Research (STTR), a multi-institute, multidisciplinary initiative centered at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), and across UW Medicine, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Desert was instrumental in driving cooperative scientific ventures by partnering with faculty and research teams to identify and advance new research that should be translated to patients. During her tenure, Desert’s team created a novel biotool, Oncoscape, that GitHub highlighted during the company’s 2016 global conference as one of two social impact projects of the year.
In 2015, Desert received a Life Science Innovation Northwest Women to Watch in Life Science Award from the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association and was named one of 15 Women to Watch in 2015 by Disruptive Women in Health Care.
Prior to joining Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2013, Desert spent 13 years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, helping to create the center’s first Brain Tumor Center and Department of Neurosurgery. While at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, she was the administrator/education director of a multimillion-dollar U54 NIH grant to create a physical sciences and oncology center, and director of education for a T32 NIH training grant that used novel interdisciplinary techniques and mathematical cancer modeling to facilitate the development of researchers in computational and cancer biology. She was also principle investigator of a New York State business solutions grant focused on clinical research training.
Also of note, Desert spent a six-month sabbatical traveling eastern Africa and South Africa while learning about health centers and community health efforts. During this time, she visited Uganda’s first cancer center, remote villages in Kenya (with a malaria prevention health team), and an HIV vaccine laboratory in South Africa, in addition to her travels throughout the U.S., Mexico and Europe.
Desert’s career has been dedicated to supporting cutting-edge faculty research in order to help technologies move from academia into everyday clinical use that benefits patients and transforms patient care.