The Institute for Precision Health builds on UCLA’s existing successes in precision health, unifying them into a foundation for new discoveries across a variety of disciplines. This alignment of powerful independent efforts will create the multi-disciplinary approach needed to change the clinical landscape for a variety of disorders, from autism, cardiology and cancer to neurologic and undiagnosed diseases.
Cardiovascular disease does not affect everyone in the same way. One's susceptibility to disease and response to treatment are a complex interplay of genetics with environmental factors, such as diet, exercise, and smoking history. Until recently, cardiologists could not integrate all of these factors in making a diagnosis or a treatment regime, in part because the technology required to do so was not available. Therefore, treatment was often one-size-fits-all. UCLA is now taking a different approach by viewing a patient’s cardiovascular health holistically, tailoring care to match both lifestyle and genetics.
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Depression Grand Challenge
In 2015 UCLA launched its Depression Grand Challenge (DGC), an effort that will recruit 100,000 subjects from UCLA's health system willing to undergo genetic screening, among other biological tests, for genes potentially mutant or deregulated in depression. The goal of the DGC, which expects to raise $500 million dollars in the first 10 years, is lofty: to decrease the health and economic impact of depression in half by 2050.
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Department of Neurology Program in Neurogenetics
Nationally and internationally recognized for excellence in the clinical diagnosis and management of neurodevelopmental and neurogenetic disease, the UCLA Department of Neurology Program in Neurogenetics receives referrals from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim.
Clinical Genomics Center
The UCLA Clinical Genomics Center provides a comprehensive analysis and diagnostic interpretation of a patient's entire protein-encoding genome by searching through 37 million base pairs in 20,000 genes to potentially locate the single DNA change responsible for the patient's disorder. Rather than analyzing genes one-by-one, this universal diagnostic service simultaneously investigates all possible causative genes in a time- and cost-effective manner and includes certified genetic counselors for pre- and post-test counseling as well as consultation from specialist physicians. This service utilizes next generation sequencing technology, state-of-the-art computational and bioinformatic resources, and integrated laboratory information systems to deliver a precise genetic diagnosis for the benefit of patients and physicians. UCLA researchers are working on a variety of diseases to better understand and identify the genetic underpinnings that can lead to targeted treatments and therapeutics for patients with known genetic mutations.
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Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART)
Genetic testing, including chromosomal microarray and exome sequencing is a first line diagnostic in ASD, since we can now explain the genetic cause of a patient’s autism in nearly 20% of patients. This number grows every few months. Diagnosis using sequencing to identify the specific genetic basis of ASD in an individual is a prime example of precision medicine. To address the growing demand for diagnosis, treatment and scientific research, UCLA established the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) in 2003, as one of eight centers participating in a federally funded research initiative titled "Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART). Subsequently, UCLA's autism center has remained in a leading national and international role, supported by more than three Autism Center of Excellence grants. This comprehensive, collaborative effort with the schools of education, psychology, neuroscience and genetics, psychiatry and neurology is known throughout the world for its research leadership and novel insights into autism spectrum disorders.
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UCLA’s track record of success in Cancer Immunology has given rise to some of today’s most promising therapies against cancer, including the drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda), for advanced melanoma. Its leadership has also led to the recent establishment of The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCLA, which will enable campus’ scientists to collaborate with other leading researchers, clinicians and industry partners from around the nation, all with a common goal: to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to turn cancer into a curable disease.
Clinical and Translational Science Institute
This research partnership of UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and the Los Angeles Biomedical Institute at Harbor UCLA Medical Center brings biomedical innovations to bear on the greatest health needs of Los Angeles—the largest county in the country and one of the most ethnically, socially and economically diverse. The consortiums accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries into more effective treatments for patients; actively engage communities in clinical research; and train future generations of researchers to work across scientific disciplines to improve health.
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Center for Human Nutrition
The UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and its new Center for Human Nutrigenomics studies the role of nutrition, phytochemicals, and botanical dietary supplements in the prevention and treatment of common forms of metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Continuing and accelerating discoveries in genomics present possibilities for an ever more dynamic era of scientific investigation based on understanding the effects of nutrients in molecular level processes in the body as well as the variable effects nutrients and non-nutritive dietary phytochemicals have on each of us as individuals.
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Under the umbrella of this large and growing group of investigators, UCLA scientists and physicians are working together to decode the intricacies of human metabolism, providing insights into treatment and prevention of common disorders caused by errant metabolic processes or an excess of nutrients. Their insights are providing insights into metabolic pathways contribute to human disease and how they can be harnessed for diagnosis, prevention and therapy.