UCLA Health Research and Innovation puts novel ideas into practice to benefit patients and providers


UCLA Health continues to be a leader in pioneering health care innovations that benefit patients and practitioners across the globe. Past discoveries at UCLA include first-of-their-kind immunotherapies, advanced imaging scans and apps that optimize patient care. UCLA Health Research and Innovation is dedicated to fostering the development of novel health care concepts. “Our goal is to identify, pilot and deploy high-value innovations that deliver better health care and greater value to more people,” says Desert Horse-Grant, senior director of research and innovation and co-director of UCLA Biodesign. “We encourage everyone at UCLA Health — employees, volunteers and patients — to share their ideas for advancing this mission.”

UCLA Health Research and Innovation recently hosted its first Innovation Challenge, which called on our entire community, from clinicians and researchers to caregivers and staff, to submit innovative ideas to solve a patient or health care need, advance new medical technologies or enhance the patient experience. The contest concluded on May 1 with more than 250 applications; winners will be announced in July. Submissions included the use of virtual reality programs for terminally ill patients, radiofrequency identification bands for hospital patients and fingerprint scans or facial recognition for care team login. Some winners will receive seed funding for the development of prototypes while others will work on bringing their ideas to fruition with the help of executive leadership.

Ideas generated during the contest could join a long list of innovations at UCLA Health, including the discovery of genes linked to dementia, a sprayable gel that reduces the growth of cancerous cells and on-site 3D printing to help surgeons prepare for complex procedures.

“We have a wealth of resources and expertise available for employees, including incubators, accelerators, funding, classes and mentors,” says Horse-Grant. “We welcome ideas for using novel technologies to deliver more precise care to patients while keeping costs in check.”

Another new Research and Innovation program is the UCLA Biodesign Fellowship, a unique year-long program that brings together multidisciplinary teams of doctors, engineers, designers and business professionals to advance solutions that improve health care for patients worldwide. The fellows receive one year of training in the fundamentals of medical device development. “We aim to accelerate the translation of innovations to the commercial market,” says Horse-Grant. The fellows will work to develop a new medical technology that solves a clinical problem identified by UCLA Health care providers. “They’ll complete a two-week course on biodesign, as well as an externship to fill in knowledge gaps and help them learn more about product development,” says Horse-Grant.

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