UCLA Health's Dr. Clara Lajonchere elected Chair of the California Precision Medicine Advisory Council

Clara Lajonchere, PhD
Clara Lajonchere, PhD

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UCLA Health Media Relations

Dr. Clara Lajonchere, deputy director of the Institute for Precision Health at UCLA Health, has been elected chair of the new California Precision Medicine Advisory Council. Established last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration, the council will provide high-level guidance to the Office of Planning and Research on innovations in health care and medicine as they relate to the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine.

"Precision health is the medicine of the future," Dr. Lajonchere said. "I am excited to be a part of the state’s efforts to lead the way in driving medical and scientific discoveries that will enable us to reduce health care disparities and improve the health of all Californians through a more personalized approach to treatment."

The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine is a partnership of the state, California universities and other public and private organizations to more quickly translate basic science discoveries into new diagnostic tests and treatments. According to the website, the state initially provided $3 million to create the first precision medicine program in the nation, which since has grown into a $53 million statewide initiative, providing scientists with funding to accelerate the move to more personalized medicine.

"We are thrilled that Dr. Lajonchere has agreed to serve as Chair of the California Precision Medicine Advisory Council. Her work in both the public and private sectors, and with diverse patient populations, makes her the ideal choice for the role," said Kate Gordon, director of the Office of Planning and Research. "Through the Council, her experience will enrich the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine."

The advisory council’s diverse membership represents academia, industry, biotech, health care, policymakers and consumers from California. The newly elected vice-chair is Keith Yamamoto, PhD, vice chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy, and director of Precision Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Lajonchere's new role as chair of the advisory council reflects UCLA Health's broader commitment to precision medicine. Established in 2016, the UCLA Institute for Precision Health is a virtual home for precision health activities, facilitating large-scale genetic and genomic research, creating new opportunities for innovative discovery and reinforcing UCLA Health's international leadership in education, information technology and clinical care. The institute brings together faculty with wide-ranging expertise, including both basic and clinical research, as well as engineering, information science, public health and others.

Through the Institute for Precision Health, Dr. Lajonchere is collaborating with thought leaders across UCLA Health and others in the state of California and its university system to advance precision medicine research that will improve outcomes for all patients.

In addition to her role as deputy director of UCLA Health's Institute for Precision Health, Dr. Lajonchere is an adjunct professor of neurology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. She has previously held several academic and leadership positions, including principal investigator and director of the former NIH Center for Genomic and Phenomic Studies in Autism at the USC Keck School of Medicine; chief science officer for Cognoa Inc., a digital health care startup; and vice president of Clinical Programs for the science and advocacy organization Autism Speaks. She has worked in the field of psychiatric genetics and autism over the course of her professional career.