U Magazine
U Magazine
UCLA Health
David Geffen School of Medicine

The Year that Was

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

From executive-level changes to major advances in research and discovery, a lot can happen over the course of a year.

It was last spring that I first wrote in this magazine as the new dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. It is remarkable how much can happen in a year. Back then, I wrote that “change is always paired with opportunity,” and that certainly has been the case these past 12 months.

First, we have made a significant change in how we define the executive roles of UCLA Health Sciences and the school of medicine. Rather than being aggregated under one person, the titles of dean and vice chancellor now are separate and very distinct roles. This division acknowledges the importance and scope of the jobs and, given the growing complexity of healthcare and our ever-expanding school of medicine and hospital system, that each has become too big for one person.

I continue as vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health but no longer as dean of the school of medicine. As we actively search for a permanent dean, we are proud that Kelsey C. Martin, MD, PhD, has taken the reins as interim dean to provide strategic vision and develop and manage policy, programs and resource allocation. Dr. Martin is a remarkable individual with a fascinating personal story, and you can read more about her on page 30 of this issue. I also am proud to tell you that Johnese Spisso, MPA, has joined us as president of UCLA Health and CEO of UCLA Hospital System to oversee the operations of UCLA’s hospitals and clinics, as well as the health system’s regional outreach strategy. She is a nationally known leader with three decades of experience in publicly owned academic medical centers, as well as health-system integration, strategic collaborations and new models of healthcare delivery. We are very excited and pleased that she has joined us.

On the discovery front, members of our faculty have been at the vanguard of research that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of two new therapies for the treatment of patients with such cancers as melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer and estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer. And our cardiovascular scientists have developed a novel therapeutic approach to fighting vascular plaques, which resulted in an important licensing agreement. We also have made significant progress to organize around six research themes that drive a variety of efforts within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA: neuroscience, cancer, cardiovascular medicine, metabolism, immunity/inflammation/infection/transplantation and regenerative medicine. These themes focus fundraising efforts and establish categories by which to conceptualize, guide and organize discovery-based research in the school of medicine that will, ultimately, lead to better patient health outcomes. I am pleased to tell you that this research soon will be supported by the anticipated opening next summer of the renovated South Tower in the Center for the Health Sciences and that our education mission will be enhanced by the projected opening in 2017 of Geffen Hall. Our hospitals continue to earn high recognition; Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was ranked No. 3 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather offers a snapshot of progress that has been made this past year and a foretaste of what is yet to come as we move forward with our mission to advance newer and safer treatments that alleviate suffering and cure disease.

Signature, Dr. Mazziotta

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


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