By Amy Albin
For more than 60 years, the faculty and staff at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and the department of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have conducted pioneering research, delivered state-of-the-art patient care and expertly trained future pediatricians.
Now, under the umbrella of the recently launched UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, these efforts will have an even bigger and broader impact. By bringing together pediatric physician–scientists and faculty experts from a variety of fields across the UCLA campus, the new institute will drive multidisciplinary research collaborations focused on children’s health and disease and will help speed the translation of groundbreaking pediatric research findings into clinical practice — locally, nationally and globally.
“We are expanding our well-developed foundation to build a dynamic, interdisciplinary support system for our pediatric physician–scientists that fosters new avenues for innovation,” said Dr. Sherin Devaskar, physician-in-chief of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and assistant vice chancellor for children’s health, who holds the Mattel Executive Endowed Chair in the UCLA Department of Pediatrics. “This new paradigm will lead to advancements that can improve the health of children faster and more efficiently.”
The institute will pioneer advancements in pediatric medicine in four key research areas: the brain and behavior; nutrition and metabolism; cancer; and inflammation, infection and immunity. Efforts in each area will focus on prevention, screening and treatment, as well as providing training opportunities for the next generation of pediatricians and mentorship programs that enable younger physicians and scientists to learn from UCLA’s cadre of experts.
Children are not “small adults,” pediatricians stress, and they experience illnesses and treatments differently than adults. The UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute is in a unique position to collaborate with a wide variety of researchers across campus who have expertise not only in science and health but in the unique challenges young people face.
“Interdisciplinary research as envisioned by the institute is fundamental to the discoveries that pave the way to major improvements in health,” said Dr. Eugene Washington, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and vice chancellor for health sciences. “Having access to a variety of specialists and experts with different points of view can be invaluable in nurturing innovations that can ultimately benefit children around the world.”
The institute will hold its inaugural fundraiser, the Kaleidoscope Ball, at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday, April 17. The sold-out event, hosted by actress Patricia Heaton, will honor philanthropists Heather and Steven Mnuchin and Cameron Cohen and musician and actor LL Cool J. Entertainment will include performances by special guests the Blue Sky Riders, Kenny Loggins, the Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr.
The event will also showcase 10 custom dollhouses created by more than 20 of the most prominent, award-winning visionaries from the world of design and architecture. The dollhouses will be auctioned off, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support the new institute.
For more information on the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, visit www.uclahealth.org/cdii.