UCLA Health receives $29-million donation to study role of genetics in diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- UCLA has received a $29 million gift to establish a center where scientists and physicians will work side by side to examine the role of genetics in disease, and develop therapies that improve patients' lives, it was announced Thursday.

The gift creates the Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Center for Precision Genomic Medicine. The new center will build on UCLA's efforts in precision health to leverage large data sets and innovative genomic technologies such as CRISPR engineering to improve diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of genetic disorders including both rare diseases and more common illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and immune disorders, diseases of the eye and brain disorders such as autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

"I am so grateful to Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg for their remarkable vision and generosity and for placing their confidence in UCLA's capacity for innovation,'' said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "Combining our health system's strengths in biomedical research and clinical care, the Ginsburg Center is sure to benefit patients and their families through life- saving, individualized treatments.''

Genes carry the biological instructions for life but also can be a source of human disease -- alone and in combination with environmental and other factors. The Ginsburg Center will harness massive computing power and human-genome sequencing to better understand genetic factors in disease, identify genetic risks in populations and develop gene therapies and other innovative and individualized treatment strategies.

This gift provides transformational support in an area where UCLA excels -- multidisciplinary teams of scientists and physicians utilizing the latest technology and collaborating to improve care,'' said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health.

Launching the Ginsburg Center within the Institute for Precision Health "is a milestone in our work to bridge cutting-edge genetic research and direct patient care with individually targeted treatments,'' said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald distinguished professor of human genetics, senior associate dean and associate vice chancellor of precision health.

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