Health Care Innovation at UCLA

At UCLA, health innovation isn’t an afterthought or an add-on. It’s part of our history — and a key piece of our present and our future.

UCLA has long been a leader in innovative health care delivery. Early research at UCLA was integral to the development of imaging systems such as CT scans and PET scans. These technologies have transformed medical diagnostics, at UCLA Health and around the world. Our researchers continue to lead in neuroimaging and brain mapping.

In the 1960s, UCLA faculty developed the tissue-matching test that makes organ transplants possible. Today, we are a leader in kidney transplantation and face transplantation.

Our scientists have developed new, life-saving targeted treatments for cancers such as breast cancer and melanoma, as well as a breakthrough treatment for brain aneurysm. The leading-edge research on our campus has been awarded the top prizes in medicine, including the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Science.

More recently, our David Geffen School of Medicine is working with the Samueli School of Engineering to develop formal collaborations between the Department of Orthopedics and the Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. These collaborations include work on devices, 3D printing, personalized implants, biomaterials, drug delivery, biological and chemical sensors, and robotics.

A Health Innovation Hub

UCLA is built for innovation. The UCLA Medical Plaza is located right on campus, along with our schools of medicine, dentistry, business, engineering, nursing and public health. That proximity helps foster fruitful partnerships between researchers and clinicians.

UCLA is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the nation, located within the culturally and socioeconomically diverse Los Angeles County. At UCLA Health, we see that diversity as an asset. Treating a varied patient population allows us to see a broader range of disorders and health care challenges — and sparks new ideas for finding cures and solutions that work for everyone.

Just as important as our diversity is our deeply rooted culture of collaboration. Our experts and innovators from wide-ranging fields regularly team up to find fresh and creative ways to improve health.

Our teamwork translates to better care for patients at UCLA Health. And our collaborations lead to breakthrough tools and treatments that improve well-being for people around the world.

Disrupting the Status Quo

Innovation is rarely the easiest path. Innovators must embrace the unknown. They must be willing to be creative and consider new approaches. They must look into the future and anticipate problems, to create tools people don’t know they will need, and solve problems people don’t know they will have. 

At UCLA, the drive to innovate comes from the top down and the bottom up. Our clinicians and researchers are driven to push the boundaries of health and patient care. We work to uncover new insights into the human body and create new treatments, tools and technologies in the name of better health. Our leadership equips UCLA innovators with the freedom and resources to allow for creative change. Our administrators also support and value basic research, even when it’s not yet clear how that research might lead to a new therapy or invention. 

UCLA Health embraces innovation in three essential areas of focus: Patient care, our role as a learning health system and biomedical technology.

Innovative Patient Care

At UCLA Health, we’re proud of our patient-centered approach. Our faculty, staff and administrators continually seek new ways to improve patient care. We:

  • Invest in novel tools and technologies to improve diagnosis and treatment
  • Embrace digital health technologies to improve patients’ access to quality care
  • Adopt programs to optimize patient well-being

Through it all, we regularly look for new ways to deliver better care for less cost, and make care delivery both more compassionate and efficient.

Learning Health System

Research, health care and medicine advance rapidly. In this fast-paced environment, if you’re not actively working to improve, you’re going in reverse.

UCLA Health is a continuous learning health system. We never stop working on improvements to enhance well-being, promote community health and save patients’ lives. We invest in our health care workforce by:

  • Developing new training programs to prepare the next generation of health providers
  • Creating state-of-the-art opportunities for medical and nursing students to gain skills through hands-on learning
  • Continually adjusting our processes and redesigning our care delivery pathways to ensure our health care professionals provide state-of-the-art care

In 2018, thanks to a 5-year grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, we also began establishing a Learning Health Systems Center of Excellence at UCLA.


UCLA is home to some of the best minds in science, engineering and technology. The researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine and in departments across campus are innovating in countless ways. Some projects include:

  • Robotic surgical and therapy tools
  • Novel cancer treatments
  • Safer and more effective imaging systems
  • Leading-edge diagnostic devices

To move innovations from the lab into the clinic, UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine partner to provide faculty innovators with funding and advice.