A decade in review: 7 exciting healthcare breakthroughs


Over the last decade a number of scientific discoveries and medical advances have revolutionized disease treatment, enriched patients' quality of lives and set the stage for future innovations in research and delivery of care.

From bench to bedside, these breakthroughs have opened up possibilities beyond what was thought was possible decades ago. We asked health experts at UCLA to weigh in on the most significant healthcare advances of the last ten years and what exciting developments we can look forward to in the decade ahead.


"Over the last decade we have seen a significant rise in effective immunotherapies for cancers that were once thought of as a death sentence. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive immune cell therapies are generating great excitement, numerous clinical trials and are becoming a new 'fourth leg' of cancer therapy, in addition to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I expect to see more effective and broadly used anticancer vaccines, new designs in cell targeting against cancer and the use of additional immune cell types in therapy."
--Michael Teitell, MD, PhD, Director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center


"The development of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is one of most important advances in cardiovascular disease that has markedly changed clinical care. The field of TAVR continues to rapidly evolve and with the development of better devices, new approaches and new implantation strategies, TAVR has become much simpler and safer and can now reach an even broader population of patients."
--Gregg Fonarow, MD, the Eliot Corday Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine and Science and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center


"A significant development on the HIV/AIDS front is the development of HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-a-day pill that prevents HIV infection in at-risk populations. This strategy, if deployed, could prevent millions of new HIV infections. Looking ahead, there is hope for development of new interventions to harness the immune system allowing more people to control HIV without antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the development of safe and scalable, long-acting options for PrEP and treatment."
-- Judith Currier, MD, chief of the UCLA Division of Infectious Diseases

Alzheimer's Disease

"Recent research, including work here at UCLA, projects that the number of Americans with Alzheimer's or 'mild cognitive impairment,' meaning early symptoms of the disease, will more than double by 2060. It could affect 15 million people. The impact of this disease could be huge."
--Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, professor of biostatistics and interim dean at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.


"Over the past decade we have uncovered that inadequate sleep may increase an individual’s risk of Alzheimer's disease. In fact, a lack of deep sleep specifically relates to the accumulation of tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Looking ahead, there is a potential opportunity to delay the progression of certain neurodegenerative conditions by recognizing and improving sleep disturbances. Improving insomnia, for example, may be a proposed pathway to uncover and reduce the burden of dementia.
--Alon Avidan, MD, professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.

Multiple Sclerosis

"Over the last decade we saw more than half a dozen new and more effective disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS). We are looking forward in the near future to the development and implementation of biomarkers that will enable more precise tracking of disease and prognosis and improved disease-modifying treatments. We will see more evidence-based recommendations on lifestyle and wellness strategies that can help manage MS, such as diet and exercise."
--Barbara Geisser, MD, professor of clinical neurology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Clinical Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at UCLA

Diet and Nutrition

"One of the biggest scientific understandings of the past decade in diet and nutrition is the deeper understanding of just how much lifestyle and dietary habits contribute to the myriad of chronic diseases around the world. The introduction of plant-based 'meat' options which are close analogues in texture and flavor to the "traditional" animal-based meats is one example of this. We are on the starting line of a huge shift in eating patterns and I anticipate that more people in developed countries will make a switch to a more whole-foods plant-based diet, both for their own health and for the health of the planet."
--Dana Hunnes, PhD, senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and an adjunct assistant professor at the Fielding School of Public Health