UCLA Health is among the most comprehensive and advanced health care systems in the world. Together, UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA are a model that redefines the standard of excellence in health care. Their integrated mission is to provide state-of-the-art patient care, to train top medical professionals and to support pioneering research and discovery.
The gift of hope and health
Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives.
For more than 25 years, UCLA has been among the top U.S. transplant hospitals. For 2020-21, UCLA tied with another medical center as the #1 transplant center in the country, according to recent transplant data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).
UCLA transplant programs have maintained a remarkably cohesive surgical, medical and support staff, forming an experienced and committed team to face the challenges of organ transplantation. While their breadth of experience enhances the clinical success of all of the transplant programs at UCLA, what truly makes UCLA exceptional is the combination of its physicians’ vast expertise and its patient-centered approach to care.
An active research environment has led to the development of new and effective surgical techniques, immunosuppressive regimens, and protocols for the treatment of rejection and other critical medical complications of transplantation.
Innovative care to expand lung transplant opportunities
UCLA’s Lung Transplant Program is one of the country’s most successful programs and the busiest thoracic transplant center in the Western United States, having performed over 1,000 lung transplants since 1988, and consistently ranking among the top programs nationally for the number completed each year.
Many patients choose this program because of the experience and reputation of its transplant team known for its highly specialized and comprehensive approach to lung transplant care. UCLA has pioneered procedures for higher-risk, more complex patients. It is one of the few centers that performs lung re-transplantation, bringing hope to patients who have already had a transplant.
Dr. David Sayah, Medical Director of the Lung Transplant Program conducts active research in both lung transplantation and interstitial lung disease, aimed at bringing life-extending therapy to patients with severe lung disease.
Cholesterol-removing gene may prevent heart disease
UCLA’s cardiology and heart surgery programs rank among the best in the United States, illustrating the excellent cardiovascular care it offers to adults and children with complicated heart concerns. The American Heart Association recognized its high-quality heart failure care with the Get With The Guidelines®-Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
The program is home to a Cholesterol Management Center, a consultative program for the evaluation and treatment of lipid disorders. High cholesterol — specifically, high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — is a major risk factor for heart disease.
In a UCLA-led study, Dr. Tamer Sallam, clinical cardiologist and co-director of the UCLA Center for Cholesterol Management discovered a special group of genes known as long noncoding ribonucleic acids (lncRNAs) that may protect against heart disease by removing excess cholesterol from the arteries.
What is unique about these genes is that until recently they were thought to be “junk” DNA, because they do not make a protein product. It is now established that lncRNA genes play important roles and their discovery offers a unique opportunity for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools in heart disease.
Shaping the future of cancer care
Learning from the story of genes
The UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology cares for women with gynecologic cancer and those at high risk for gynecologic cancer based on their family history and their genes.
Its Division of Gynecologic Oncology has a multidisciplinary team of specialists working together to evaluate each patient’s situation and to customize a treatment plan that is in the best interest of each individual patient.
As the understanding of the relationship between genetics and cancer has increased, UCLA Health has expanded efforts to identify patients who could benefit from genetic screening specific for cancer risk, and to make testing and counseling services more broadly available.
Beth Karlan, MD, Vice Chair of Women’s Health Research in the UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of cancer population genetics at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains that patients who might benefit from cancer genetic tests include many cancer survivors, patients newly diagnosed with certain cancers and those whose ancestry places them at higher risk for carrying mutations in genes related to cancer susceptibility.
An internationally recognized expert in ovarian cancer and other heritable cancers, Dr. Karlan’s research and clinical practice focus primarily on understanding the genetic and phenotypic determinants of ovarian cancer, hereditary predisposition to cancer, and molecular biomarkers for early detection, treatment and prognostication of ovarian cancer.
Karlan was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) for her contributions to gynecologic cancer research and clinical practice.
Interaction between clinical and translational oncology
Breast cancer is the most-commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. UCLA Health delivers breast cancer care through the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC). One of only 51 cancer centers recognized by the National Institutes of Health, JCCC is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies.
Dr. Richard Finn, a medical oncologist at UCLA, and currently, Director of JCCC Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program, is leading a translational oncology core lab for cancer investigators set up to evaluate novel therapeutics.
Finn and his team are looking to find molecular alterations like HER-2 in other cancers, so targeted therapies can be developed to hone in on the cancer cells and leave the healthy tissue alone. They’re also looking for predictive markers that will tell doctors which treatments patients will respond to and which won’t work. That information would then be used to design clinical trials of novel therapeutics, armed with the predictive information obtained in the lab.
Because UCLA is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers where many of the current treatment standards were developed, patients can feel confident that they are receiving the highest quality of care to produce the best outcomes, using the most advanced medical, surgical and radiation techniques available. It’s everything a patient could imagine and expect from one of the recognized leaders in healthcare – UCLA.
Stem cells in the treatment of childhood cancers
The UCLA Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology is a pioneer in the treatment of childhood cancers at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. The Division has a long history of bringing hope to patients through programs that include the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, in continuous operation since 1973, which is the oldest such unit in California and one of the first in the nation.
Advances in BMT have dramatically increased survival rates for childhood blood and bone marrow cancers. Other considerations that set the program apart are the availability of the most advanced therapies: UCLA scientists continuously research new ways to engineer stem cells. This technique allows them to use donors who aren’t an exact match.
Dr. Theodore B. Moore, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at UCLA is active in Clinical Research serving as the UCLA Principal Investigator of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC) and the Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium (PIDTC) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). His clinical and research interests are hematopoietic stem cell transplant and hematologic diseases in children and young adults, particularly the use of cord blood as a stem cell source, relapsed leukemia, and infections in the immunocompromised patient.
When you choose UCLA Health for your child’s treatment for leukemia or other blood cancer, you place your trust in one of the country’s most expert teams.
Accolades and achievements
- Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center ranks as the No. 1 medical center in the Western U.S. and No. 3 in the nation.
- UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital recognized for its broad excellence in pediatric care in the 2021–22 rankings.
- Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA have earned Magnet Status for Nursing Excellence.
- Our faculty ranks among the top 10 in the nation in National Institutes of Health medical research funding.
- UCLA is the busiest transplant center in the nation with outstanding patient care outcomes.
- UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only 51 total designated comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S
For more information, please visit https://www.uclahealth.org/international-services/ or call +1 310-794-8759
This article appears in the latest issue of Omnia Health Magazine. Read the full issue online today.