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UCLA CTSI Mission and Aims

The UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is a research partnership of UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and the Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Its mission is to bring biomedical innovations to bear on the greatest health needs of Los Angeles—the largest and one of the most ethnically, socially and economically diverse counties in the United States. Its vision is to catalyze research that translates discoveries into tangible improvements in health care, disease prevention and treatment in Los Angeles County.

The UCLA CTSI is one of more than 50 research “hubs” supported by the Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) program National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

Aim 1: Prepare the translational workforce to conduct high-quality, multidisciplinary team science.

Aim 2: Engage stakeholder communities in clinical and translational research and disseminate successful models of collaboration.

Aim 3: Integrate special populations, especially those experiencing health disparities, into research.

Aim 4: Improve methods and processes to accelerate scientific translation, overcome key roadblocks and support multisite research.

Aim 5: Provide informatics solutions to operational and scientific roadblocks to advance high-impact translational science within the UCLA CTSI and the CTSA network.

Organizational Structure

The CTSI Director oversees the UCLA Hub for clinical and translational science that integrates and builds on the many strengths of the UCLA CTSI partner institutions; the organization of multidisciplinary teams to accelerate and translate discovery to improve health; the transformation of educational and career development programs to promote the next generation of clinician investigators and translational scientists and train research staff; creation and expansion of strong bidirectional academic community partnerships to ensure that new discovery is relevant to community needs; final authority over CTSI operations, budgets, planning and policy; and facilitating the integration of our biomedical research infrastructure with other UC medical campuses through UC BRAID. The Director also serves as the central link between the CTSI and its institutional review boards, the Chancellor, NCATS and the national CTSA network.

Associate Directors. The CTSI is organized into five domains that align with NCATS’ goals for the national CTSA program: (1) workforce development, (2) community engagement and collaboration, (3) integration, (4) methods/processes, and (5) informatics. Each of these domains is overseen by two or more Associate Directors. Associate Directors are recognized experts in their fields who have knowledge regarding the CTSA program at the national consortium level as well as a thorough understanding of the detailed processes of our hub. Their role is to ensure that the programs within their domains make progress toward their milestones, meet timelines, and achieve their aims. An Associate Director for Ethics ensures our activities meet the highest ethical standards across all domains.

Site Leaders oversee CTSI activities at their sites to ensure integration and communication within their institution and across our partner sites.

The CTSI Council is comprised of Associate Directors, the Site Leaders, a community partner representative, and a patient advocate who serves in rotation. It is chaired by the Director. The CTSI Council has direct responsibility for overseeing resources and strategies, and the structure, function and budget of the CTSI. It prioritizes activities, allocates resources, sets decision-making policies and procedures, and reviews reports from the evaluation unit.

Program Leaders. The UCLA CTSI has 12 program areas: Workforce, Community Engagement, Team Science, Pilot Studies, Special Populations, Network Resources, Participant & Clinical Interactions (PCI), Regulatory, Biostatistics, Precision Medicine, Population Health, and Informatics. Each program is assigned to one of our five domains. Program Leaders are responsible for the day-to-day operation of their programs and for meeting all program milestones, timelines and aims.

Administrative Core. The Administrative unit coordinates the day-to-day operations of the CTSI and is specifically charged with communications, financial operations and evaluation.

Institutional Steering Committee

Gene D. Block, Ph.D. (Chair)
Chancellor, UCLA

David M. Carlisle, M.D., Ph.D.  
President and Chief Executive
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

John C. Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D.  
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences 
CEO, UCLA Health

Shlomo K. Melmed, M.B., Ch.B., M.A.C.P.
Dean of the Medical Faculty
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Director, Burns and Allen Research Institute
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

David I. Meyer, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive
Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

External Advisory Committee

Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D. (Chair)
Director, Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
Associate Dean for Translational Research
Raymond E. Houk Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurobiology
Indiana University

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Reducing Health Disparities
Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine
Community Engagement Program Leader, Clinical and Translational Science Center
UC Davis

Deborah M. Fournier, Ph.D., M.S.
Assistant Provost for Institutional Research
Director, Evaluation and Tracking, BU CTSI
Boston University 

Michael K. Gould, M.D., M.S.
Senior Research Scientist
Director, Health Services Research & Implementation Science
Leader, Care Improvement Research Team (CIRT) in the Department of Research and Evaluation
Kaiser Permanente of Southern California 

Virginia McFerran
Managing Partner
Optum Ventures

Shawn N. Murphy, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Neurology
Harvard University

Harry P. Selker, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine
Executive Director, Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies
Tufts University

William E. Smoyer, M.D., F.A.S.N.
C. Robert Kidder Chair Professor of Pediatrics
Vice President, Clinical and Translational Research
Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Research
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital
Ohio State University

Hal F. Yee, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Chief Deputy Director, Health Services, Clinical and Medical Affairs
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Internal Advisory Board

Kelsey Martin (Chair)
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine
Professor, Biological Chemistry and of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Deborah Prothrow-Stith, M.D. (Co-Chair)
Dean, College of Medicine
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science 

Joel Braslow, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Robert A. Cherry, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.S., F.A.C.H.E.
Chief Medical and Quality Officer
UCLA Health System

Jason Cong, Ph.D., M.S.
Associate Vice Provost for Internationalization
Chancellor’s Professor in Computer Science
Director, Center for Domain-Specific Computing
Director, VLSI Architecture, Synthesis and Technology Lab

Eric S. Daar, M.D.  
Chief, Division of HIV Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Professor of Medicine

David Gere, Ph.D.  
Professor, Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance
Director, UCLA Art & Global Health Center

Alexander Hoffmann, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences
Asher Professor of Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

Sylvia Hurtado, Ph.D.
Director, Higher Education Research Institute (HERI)
Head, Higher Education & Organizational Change Division
Professor, Education & Information Studies

Jorja Leap, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Executive Director, Health and Social Justice Partnership
Adjunct Professor, Department of Social Welfare, Luskin School of Public Affairs

Nicole Leonard, J.D., M.B.A.
Vice President of Research
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Roger J. Lewis, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Benjamin Nathan, M.S.
Chief Information Officer
David Geffen School of Medicine

Chon A. Noriega, Ph.D.
Director, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
Professor, Department of Film, Television and Digital Media

Mark A. Peterson, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Public Policy
Professor, Public Policy, Political Science and Law
Luskin School of Public Affairs

Vivek Shetty, D.D.S., Dr.Med.Dent.
Professor, Dentistry – Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

Johnese Spisso, M.P.A.
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Jaydutt Vadgama, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Health Affairs
Professor of Medicine
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

Donna L. Washington, M.D., M.P.H.
Women’s Health Focused Research Area Lead, VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy (CSHIIP), VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Director, Office of Health Equity/QUERI Partnered Evaluation Center
Professor of Medicine, UCLA

Dorothy Wiley, M.S.N., R.N., M.P.H., Ph.D, F.A.A.N. 
School of Nursing

Ben M. Wu, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Chair of the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics
Chair of the Section of Biomaterials Science
Director for UCLA Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology

Zuo-Feng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.  
Associate Dean for Research
Co-Director, UCLA Center for Environmental Genomics
Director, Molecular Epidemiology Training Program
Scientific Director, Central Tumor Registry
Fielding School of Public Health

Patient Advocacy Board

Board Member
Background Expertise
Dikla Benzeevi
A metastatic breast cancer survivor and outstanding patient advocate who has been instrumental in recruiting patients for research Breast Cancer
Joyce Brandman
Health care philanthropist and president of Saul and Joyce Brandman Foundation; personal family experience with disease
Medical Education and Research
George Cruz
A battalion chief in the LA County Fire Department and stakeholder representative to the Firefighter Cardiovascular Screening and Heart Disease Prevention Program Heart Disease
Carol Head
President and CEO of Solve Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a patient
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and
Medical Research
Cath Jayasuriya
Mother of child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and founder and CEO of Coalition Duchenne
Muscular Dystrophy
Audrey Aofia Kawaiopua Alo
Director of the Pacific Islander Health Partnership, health advocate, cultural educator and fundraiser Diabetes, Obesity, and Substance Abuse
Adam Miller
The parent of a child with food allergies and member of the board of Food Allergy Research and Education Food Allergy
Kim Norris
President of the Lung Cancer Foundation of America and seasoned patient advocate; personal family experience with lung cancer Lung Cancer
Lawrence Tolliver
African American barber and experienced stakeholder advocate; representative to NHLBI-funded study of a barbershop-based intervention to improve blood pressure management in black men Heart Disease
Richard Van Horn
Immediate past chair of Mental Health America and president emeritus of their Los Angeles branch, and participant in a PCORI Patient-powered Research Network (Community and Patient Participatory Research Network, UCLA and LSU) Behavioral Health

Discovery-to-Products Initiative

Discovery-to-Products Initiative

Launched in 2014, this multifaceted educational initiative introduces faculty investigators to fundamental product- and business-development concepts. The seminars are conducted by CTSI faculty with experience in biomedical product development and company formation (M. Palazzolo and W. Boyle) as well as experts from industry. The seminars can be attended on site at UCLA or by webcast, and are widely advertised within the regional CTSA network. Attendees take pre- and post-seminar tests, which are used to assess knowledge acquisition. All seminars are videotaped and disseminated for later viewing via the UCLA CTSI YouTube Channel. The table below presents a sampling of seminars held through spring 2015. In addition to the seminars, Drs. Palazzolo and Boyle provide one-on-one consultations to faculty and post-doctoral innovators.

Sampling of Seminars in Entrepreneurship and Drug Development in 2015

Seminar Topics Attendees
Top 10 Intellectual Property Problems
  • Inventorship vs. authorship
  • Public disclosure and journal articles
  • What is patentable?
  • Previous patents and new R&D
  • 51 from UCLA Hub
  • 55 from other UC BRAID CTSAs
  • 21 from additional CTSAs
Therapeutic Discovery and Development
  • Strategy and planning
  • Process and competencies
  • Capital and time
  • Business development and IP
  • 70 from UCLA Hub
  • 25 from other UC BRAID CTSAs
  • 10 from additional CTSAs
What You Need to Know
  • Reasons to seek SBIR/STTR funding
  • SBIR/STTR eligibility, application and review
  • 23 from UCLA Hub
  • 42 from other UC BRAID CTSAs
  • 7 from additional CTSAs

Los Angeles Data Resource

Los Angeles Data Resource (LADR)
  • Developed and implemented by UCLA CTSI
  • A federation of clinical data warehouses from six Los Angeles institutions: UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, University of Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, City of Hope
  • LADR provides unprecedented access to de-identified clinical data to spur both clinical trial accrual and health services research. LADR will employ innovative matching algorithms to link data for the same patient from different institutions.

Partnerships with Los Angeles County

Innovation and Implementation Core

Innovation and Implementation Core
  • UCLA CTSI and Department of Health Services
  • A laboratory for testing approaches for improving care for the nearly 700,000 ethnically diverse patients annually treated in the county health system, which consists of four hospitals, 19 health centers and a network of community clinics
  • Initial (2015-16) projects:
    • Community health worker intervention to address the health needs of medically and socially complex patients
    • Tele-retinal screening for patients with diabetes
    • Evaluation of projects to improve health outcomes in the first year of life among newborns in South Los Angeles, where health disparities are great

Population Health Program

The CTSI Population Health Program provides the infrastructure to address population health problems at scale in the community. The program emerged from CTSI-sponsored symposia in 2014 and 2015 to identify priorities for research infrastructure that would advance population health with a national perspective while focusing on unique opportunities in Southern California and Los Angeles County. Designed to transform how local health approach population health, the program applies dynamic system modeling and improvement and implementation sciences to solve population health problems that require multi-level and multi-factor interventions. The Population Health Program will equip health agency personnel with the skills that they need to introduce and sustain these methods, which are underused in public health practice. Building these sciences into a population laboratory that is unparalleled nationally in its size, diversity, and health care and service system complexity provides value to the national CTSA network. An educational innovation is co-training investigators and health agency personnel in improvement and implementation sciences. This strengthens the capacity of education programs to train investigators in these applications and will become a permanent part of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health curriculum. The training approach and its integration into professional school curriculum are novel among CTSAs and offer a replicable model.

Healthy Aging Initiative

  • UCLA and USC CTSAs and Los Angeles County Departments of Health Services and Public Health
  • Five grants of up to $50K awarded 2014 to develop, evaluate and disseminate a coordinated set of interventions intended to promote healthy aging in Los Angeles County
  • Awards:
    • Bringing Evidence-Based Depression Treatment to Historically Underrepresented Older Minorities.” PI: M. Aranda
    • “The Use of Evidence-Based Aging Initiatives in Los Angeles County and Developing Community-Informed Metrics of Their Effectiveness.” PI: A. Brown 
    • “The Los Angeles Healthy Aging Indicator Project.” PI: W. Vega
    • “Process and Impact of Evaluation of Healthy Communities LA: A Community Clinic Disease Self-Management Program for Older Adults.” PI: C. Sarkisian 
    • “Healthy Aging Partnerships in Prevention Initiative.” PI: S. Wallace

Translational Fellowships in Public Mental Health Services

  • UCLA and USC CTSAs and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
  • Total of 4 scholars
  • Aims of fellowship program:
    • Prepare young scholars to become independent researchers
    • Address research questions that are scientifically tractable and have public health relevance 
    • Develop a collaborative research infrastructure between Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Department of Health Services, and UCLA and USC CTSAs

Pilot Award Program

  • UCLA and USC CTSAs and the Department of Health Services (DHS)
  • Five grants of up to $30K each awarded in 2013 to test solutions that enable LAC DHS to improve and increase delivery of high quality, patient-centered services without increasing costs

Precision Medicine

The Precision Medicine Program creates the infrastructure for managing very large amounts of genomic and genetic data, extracting data from the medical record, and integrating genomics and clinical data to increase diagnostic precision. Rather than taking on the entirety of genomic medicine, the program begins with a clinically relevant and achievable proof of principle in undiagnosed disorders that although individually rare, place a heavy burden on the healthcare system. Once developed, this infrastructure will serve as a platform for other disease areas. The project leverages unique resources and capabilities at UCLA, which was second in the nation, and first in California, to establish a Clinical Genomics Center using high-throughput sequencing as a clinical diagnostic test in patients with a wide range of undiagnosed diseases.