2021 was a remarkable year for the UCLA Immunogenetics Center (UIC). As we enter 2022, we would like to highlight some of our achievements in clinical, quality, education, research, and areas of innovation.
The UCLA Immunogenetics Center (UIC) provided Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics testing for 1,146 solid organ transplants for the 5 transplant centers we serve (UCLA, UC Davis, Harbor-UCLA, Scripps Green Hospital, Saint Joseph’s Orange) and performed Histocompatibility testing for 32 kidney paired donations at UCLA and 166 Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) for UCLA, UC Davis, and Scripps Green Hospital.
UIC established new partnerships with 5 Regional OPOs & USC, Loma Linda, Cedars Sinai and CHLA to provide crossmatch testing for new UNOS allocation policy.
UIC and the Pathology Business office implemented a new Beaker billing system to increase efficiencies and collections. In addition, they set up a Tableau dashboard for tracking UIC finances and test volumes.
UIC welcomes Krystal Kendall, UIC Laboratory Manager, to our team.
Major quality projects implemented and completed. Here are highlights of two projects:
The UIC educational program led by Jennifer Zhang, Ph.D., leveraged the zoom platform to expand training in Immunogenetics and Histocompatibility testing to our partner institutions. The faculty taught 6 educational lecture series to pathology residents, pathology fellows, transfusion medicine fellows, clinicians and transplant coordinators at UCLA, UC Davis, Harbor-UCLA, Scripps Green Hospital, Saint Joseph’s Orange, One Legacy, and Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
UIC faculty and fellows published 24 publications, 1 book chapter, numerous abstracts. The UIC faculty submitted 8 grant applications. Drs. Reed and Valenzuela were awarded an NIAID Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation (CTOT) grant investigating the efficacy of Clazakizumab to improve long-term lung allograft and patient survival. Dr. Elaine Reed collaborating with Drs. Meghan Pearl and Patty Weng were awarded an NIH CTOT grant to advance renal transplantation outcomes in children. Dr. Reed received NIAID CIVIC grant option focused on immune profiling influenza vaccine responses and a Keck foundation grant to study immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in high risk health care workers. Dr. Reed received a philanthropic grant donation from an Aestiva Software Founder, to establish a post-doctoral research fellowship focused on understanding mechanisms of antibody mediated heart transplant rejection.
UIC has provided educational and proficiency testing programs to the Immunogenetics Community for 47 years. The UCLA Cell and DNA Exchange Programs manufactured 747 kits for 111 labs (49 Domestic/62 International labs) and analyzed and prepared the consensus report. The International HLA DNA Exchange program sent out 804 surveys to 134 laboratories (25 domestic/109 international). Given the recent interest in non-classical HLA genes in transplantation and disease association the UCLA Cell Exchange program added analysis and reporting of non-traditional HLA loci (HLA-E, -F, -G, -H, MICB) to the DNA Exchange proficiency test program.
UIC serves as CAP proficiency test provider since 2003 and manufactured kits for 900 clients across 8 surveys and received 100% grade for performance.
In a cross-specialty collaboration, UIC took part in the development of the Tolerance Protocol in Renal Transplantation at UCLA. This groundbreaking science enables transplant recipients to thrive without immunosuppressive drugs. UCLA Health is one of the only five medical centers in the world capable of this approach in transplantation. The tolerance approach calls for blending the donor’s and recipient’s immune systems through an infusion of the organ donor’s stem cells shortly after the organ transplant. This blending method called, “Mixed Chimerism”, prompts the recipient’s body to recognize, rather than reject, the new organ. Since powerful medicines are filtered through the kidneys, a goal of the tolerance approach is to extend the survival of the transplanted kidney. While tolerance has been achieved in transplants with well-matched sibling donor-recipient pairs, UCLA Health physicians, in collaboration with OneLegacy, intend to expand the protocol to include deceased donors. This would allow for other kinds of transplants to be done without the necessity for lifelong immunosuppression-drug regimens.
We are grateful for institutional, quality, and research excellence on behalf of our UIC team. We look forward to their continued innovation!
Sarah M. Dry, MD
Professor & Chair, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine