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The Essence of What We Are About

John C. Mazziotta, MD, PhD
Photo: Ann Johansson

The tale of our excellence is told in patents, inventions and start-ups, but the truest measure of our value is in the newer and safer treatments our scientists develop to alleviate suffering and cure disease.

What is the essence of a great research university? This can be summed up in a single word: discovery. It is knit into the fabric of our being as a top-tier research institution to conceive fresh ideas, generate new knowledge and bring forth cutting-edge products to benefit society.

The ties between UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA create an environment that fosters collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas. Our combined strength gives UCLA the extraordinary research power and resources to open and explore new worlds of inquiry and the clinical expertise and practice to take groundbreaking discoveries from the bench to the bedside to advance newer and safer treatments to alleviate suffering and cure disease.

The numbers tell a piece of the tale. One clear measure is the level of research support our faculty in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA receives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH); our NIH funding continues to be very robust, and in 2015 our ranking moved up. Another measure is to examine the results that flow from that funding — a wealth of knowledge and output that directly benefits society. Look at recent data from the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Sponsored Research. In 2014-15, 16 David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA-originated start-ups were launched (bringing the lifetime total of start-ups to 82). In addition, there have been 49 U.S. patents issued (lifetime total: 721), 311 inventions disclosed (lifetime total: 3,010) and 288 licenses and options issued (lifetime total: 1,062).

These are wonderful metrics of our success, but NIH funding, inventions, patents and start-ups are not in themselves the full story. They are means to an end, which is to create newer and safer treatments for patients worldwide and to generate the revenue necessary to continue to build our medical school and healthcare enterprise to support research and train the next generations of healers and scientists. These funds are also used to support a wide range of non-medical campus programs that are important but underfunded.

Now we are moving to construct an even stronger foundation upon which to build toward those goals. It is one thing for our faculty to receive research grants, make great discoveries and publish in prestigious journals. But we fail in our mission as a center for discovery and innovation if we cannot help our talented faculty to overcome the barriers that exist to move their ideas beyond the printed page and get them, in a practical and physical sense, out into the world. That is why we have established a Technology Accelerator for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA that has been operational on a limited scale and will fully launch in 2016. It will enable us to improve the process for getting these valuable ideas into the public sphere. Doing so will have tremendous benefits for all concerned — our faculty, our campus and society as a whole. By some estimates, this approach could generate an annual revenue stream of tens of millions of dollars or more. This is revenue that can then be returned to the school to further support the work of our faculty and help them to turn their discoveries into new products that can be brought to market to further improve the lives of people throughout the world.

And that is the essence of what we’re all about.

Signature, Dr. Mazziotta

John C. Mazziotta, MD (RES ’81, FEL ’83), PhD
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
CEO, UCLA Health

 





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