Spring 2013 E-Newsletter

Message from Director Owen Witte

The UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center is a leader in the expanding field of personalized medicine through cellular therapy. Our ambitious goal is to change patient care through regenerative medicine. At the core of our mission is developing targeted cell based treatments for a wide range of ailments from spinal cord injury to lung disease, muscular dystrophy to cancer, genetic diseases to vision loss.

As center director, I have identified a number of parallel and complementary pathways to achieve our mission. Among these priorities is the center’s Innovation Award Program. Each spring we challenge UCLA’s stellar faculty to present a stem cell research question or idea that is too early in development to compete for external funding. Previous awards focused on understanding the genetic changes that occur to a stem cell during its development, using stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue and reconstitute organs, how brain tumors contain cells that behave like stem cells, and developing a “disease in a dish” model for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Sustained through generous philanthropy, these coveted Innovation Awards offer our faculty the unparalleled opportunity to drive their cutting edge research forward. Since our launch, we have awarded more than $4 million in internal research through private support. The resulting discoveries have led to a 10 fold return on investment, $40 million, in grants from state and federal agencies including the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, National Institutes of Health and University of California Discovery Grant program.

Another of my greatest priorities is the recruitment and retention of talented scientists and clinician scientists. In the last eight years, the stem cell center has partnered with more than a dozen divisions, departments, centers and institutes across campus to recruit more than 20 faculty. Most recently, we worked closely with the department of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and the department of molecular cell and developmental biology to recruit two esteemed faculty, Dr. Lili Yang and Dr. Leanne Jones. Please see the Highlights sections of this Newsletter to learn more about Drs. Yang and Jones.

As we look to the future, our collective efforts will continue to build our stem cell research program. That future relies upon the ingenuity of our researchers, as well as upon meaningful and ongoing relationships with our friends and supporters. Generous philanthropy is appreciated by our faculty, is critical to our mission, and contributes significantly to the seminal research that may change the way we treat disease in the 21st century.

We are happy to provide more detailed information on our many programs. Should you have specific interests please email center director of development, Jamie Lynn at jlynn@support.ucla.edu.