Many argue that children are the soul of our society and that children’s health and wellness reflect the state of our culture. Relatedly, healthy children become healthy adults, and hence, a commitment to children’s well-being ensures a healthy society. At UCLA, we share this view.
A particular emphasis for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health System is on keeping children healthy through screening and prevention. Faculty, staff and trainees are providing behavioral and physical wellness to children at remote sites via telemedicine; taking a van to schools and neighborhoods to screen and treat children in their own settings for conditions like asthma; working with families in their communities to change their perceptions of healthy eating; and partnering with schools to educate coaches and parents about prevention and early recognition of traumatic brain injury in children who participate in athletics.
For those times when a child is unwell, we have a 360-degree approach to helping the child and his or her family tide over difficult periods. Comprehensive care is provided within
Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and, by extension, our Pediatric Transport team, as well as in pediatric offices, pharmacies, schools and social settings. The care provided covers the gamut, from community-acquired infections to gene therapy for blood disorders and immune dysfunction to multiple-organ transplantation. Some of our care is specifically targeted to the needs of more vulnerable populations, such as those with chronic illnesses or those in poverty, where the issues — like malnutrition — facing these children and their families are entirely different from those of the broader population.
To foster innovation in preventions and cures of tomorrow, we established the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute last year. Studies conducted there span the spectrum from the womb through childhood to adolescence. Research at the institute ranges from the basic investigation of stem cells and their role in keeping the lungs and gut healthy in children who suffer from related disorders to a life-course study to determine nutritional elements and environmental toxins that may perturb a child’s well-being to novel diagnostics for therapies and prevention approaches for addressing heart and kidney disease, HIV infection, seizure disorders and cancers affecting children. We are also training the next generation of physicians and scientists who will be local, national and global leaders in child health. Many of our students, residents and fellows currently train in other countries as part of the UCLA Mattel Global Scholar Program.
Yes, the health of children is inextricably intertwined with the health of our society. By maintaining our focus on them, we at UCLA are helping to promote a brighter future for children as well as for our nation and the world.
A. Eugene Washington, MD, MSc
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Gerald S. Levey, MD, Endowed Chair