UCLA has received a $4.6 million grant from The Warren Alpert Foundation to establish the Warren Alpert UCLA Computational Biology/AI Training and Retention Program. The program will be housed in the Department of Computational Medicine, and it aims to address the increasing demand for skilled professionals with rigorous training in both Computational Biology and Artificial Intelligence and in particular to address the need for increased diversity in the field.
The grant will support the development of the program, building upon the success of the Computational Genomics Summer Institute, an NIH-funded initiative held annually at UCLA since 2016. Additionally, it will leverage the newly launched Online Data Science in Biomedicine Master's program.
"There is an incredible demand for individuals with expertise in Computational Biology and AI, and our new program will play a pivotal role in meeting this demand," said Eleazar Eskin, PhD, chair of UCLA's Department of Computational Medicine, affiliated with both the David Geffen School of Medicine and the Samueli School of Engineering at UCLA. "We are so thankful for the support from The Warren Alpert Foundation that makes it possible for us to create this program to help advance education and training in this critical field."
“An important aspect to this new effort will be its focus on attracting scholars from groups that are broadly underrepresented in science fields,” said Dr. Steven M. Dubinett, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “The program will leverage existing long-standing relationships with minority-serving institutions, such as HBCUs and Cal State Universities.”
Existing collaborations with the NIH Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program offer additional opportunities for recruiting scholars of diverse backgrounds.
The Computational Biology/AI Training and Retention Program will benefit both students enrolled in UCLA's Master's and Ph.D. programs and professionals seeking additional training in the field. The program will develop a network of scholars and connect them with opportunities in both industry and academia with the goal of retaining them in computational biomedicine. Through the UCLA Biodesign AI program, some of the scholars will obtain their training by collaborating with clinical units in the UCLA Health System to develop AI solutions to clinical problems.
“We are delighted to collaborate and contribute to this program, which will provide scholarships to support these scholars and ensure an equitable access to the program’s many educational benefits,” said Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Samueli.
The grant represents The Warren Alpert Foundation's first funding to UCLA.