UC SAN DIEGO HEALTH SCIENCES has long been known as a place where discoveries are made. Today it is also known as a place where discoveries are delivered.

Architectural rendering of the new Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego.

In just four decades, Health Sciences has had a profound impact on health care—locally and globally—by translating basic laboratory findings into lifesaving medical and surgical care. From the first human trial of gene therapy for Alzheimer’s disease to new treatments for ovarian cancer and the revolution of robotic and scarless surgery, Health Sciences is now—and continues to be—on the forefront of innovation.

Health Sciences comprises the region’s only academic health system, one of the country’s top-ranked schools of medicine, the only public school of pharmacy in Southern California, and physician-scientists who rank among the top-funded researchers in the United States. Its bench-to-bedside—or translational—research brings scientific findings of UC San Diego Health Sciences researchers out of the lab to deliver cures, new therapies and treatments, surgical techniques, and diagnoses to patients.

Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI)

In 2010, the Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) received a five-year, $37.2 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Research Resources, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. With this award, UC San Diego Health Sciences joins an elite consortium of institutions in a national network dedicated to improving biomedical research by accelerating the application of laboratory discoveries into effective treatments for patients, more actively engaging multidisciplinary teams of researchers in clinical studies, and training future generations of clinical and translational researchers.

UC San Diego Health System cardiologists Pam R. Taub, M.D. (left), and Ajit Raisinghani, M.D.

Plans for the full vision of CTRI include a new 292,000-square-foot building erected adjacent to the planned Jacobs Medical Center. The proposed CTRI structure would connect to Jacobs Medical Center by a skyway, a physical link from basic science to real-world medicine.

Stem Cell Consortium

The Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine aligns the research and goals of UC San Diego, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and The Scripps Research Institute under one roof, creating a global resource for stem cell research.

In March 2010, the consortium began construction on the $127 million center. Located on North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, it is scheduled for completion in early 2012. Laboratory and office space is designed to accommodate more than 300 investigators. The building also includes core facilities with sophisticated imaging technologies, conference space, and a 4,000-square-foot auditorium. The project is funded by a $43 million award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for building and equipping the center, and a $30 million gift from local philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.


“We are extremely pleased to support this state-of-the-art medical center, which will provide outstanding care for patients, as well as resources for UC San Diego physicians, researchers, and their colleagues across La Jolla Mesa to rapidly translate medical research into improved health.” —Irwin Jacobs

IN FISCAL YEAR 2009–10, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, with their family, pledged $75 million to UC San Diego to build the Jacobs Medical Center on UC San Diego’s La Jolla campus. The new center, adjacent to Thornton Hospital, will have approximately 245 patient beds and three new hospitals: the Cancer Hospital, the Hospital for Women and Infants, and the Hospital for Advanced Surgery.

Joan and Irwin Jacobs

Construction will commence by early 2012, and the center will open for patient care in December 2015. The total estimated cost for the project is $664 million: about $350 million will come from external financing; $131 million from philanthropy; and the remainder from hospital bonds, reserves, and capitalized leases.

Irwin Jacobs is the cofounder and former chairman and chief executive officer of QUALCOMM Incorporated, a former engineering professor, and founding faculty member of UC San Diego. His wife, Joan, was a cofounder of the Friends of the International Center and the Friends of the Stuart Collection at UC San Diego, as well as a long-term board member of the La Jolla Playhouse. Both Irwin and Joan Jacobs have served as UC San Diego trustees.

$20 Million Stem Cell Research Award to Moores Cancer center

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is one of the nation’s forty National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers. In 2009, CIRM awarded a $20 million Disease Team Research Award to the Moores Cancer Center’s Cancer Stem Cell Research Program to develop novel drugs for the treatment of leukemia using stem cells. The four-year grant will fund a multidisciplinary research team of basic scientists, clinicians, and industry partners, including a Canadian research team based at the University of Toronto. The goal is to move promising research for blood cancers to clinical trials in the shortest time frame possible. The award brings UC San Diego’s total CIRM funding to nearly $65.6 million.

Telemedicine Hub of Learning

In 2009, the UC San Diego School of Medicine broke ground on the $65 million Medical Education and Telemedicine Center. Scheduled to open in 2011, the 99,000-square-foot facility will serve as a regional and statewide center for new initiatives in tele-education and telemedicine, and provide access to medical care and expertise for remote areas and communities with inadequate physician coverage. Medical students and faculty will receive hands-on experience with surgical robotics and advanced simulation at the center’s training facilities.

Focus on Diabetes

Diabetes affects more than 150 million people worldwide, and is a leading cause of death in many countries. Given its complexity, an unprecedented degree of interdisciplinary and cooperative efforts will be required to find solutions for this devastating disease. With preeminence in the areas of stem cell research, genetics, bioengineering, immunology and clinical treatment, UC San Diego Health Sciences is uniquely suited to partner with other leading institutions and initiatives in the development of new therapies to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure diabetes. UC San Diego’s Pediatric Diabetes Research Center is an example of one such partnership, bringing together many of the world’s most renowned and dedicated research scientists and clinicians under one roof in the type of collaboration that is vital to discovery.

Institute for Genomic Medicine

The Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM), a Health Sciences organized research unit established in 2009, leverages the university’s strengths in basic science, disease biology, pharmacology, engineering, clinical research, and computer science to accelerate investigation and translation. This comprehensive program engages members of the campus and the local biotechnology and pharmaceutical community in creating new opportunities for collaborative efforts with a genomics focus.

Image of neurons in the cerebellum

One of the last remaining major challenges for biomedical research will be to understand how the brain works. Genetics and genomics will play a pivotal role in achieving this. Here we see a section through a region of the brain known as the cerebellum, which is important for motor coordination and learning. Purkinje cell neurons are labeled green, and the nuclei of other neurons and cell types are labeled blue. Understanding disorders of the cerebellum is a focus area for a number of Institute for Genomic Medicine faculty.

Clinical Priorities

UC San Diego’s comprehensive Health System includes Thornton Hospital, UC San Diego Medical Center, Moores Cancer Center, UC San Diego Shiley Eye Center, and affiliated health care providers and clinics. The two hospitals in Hillcrest and La Jolla serve nearly 23,000 patients a year. Part of a growing clinical network of affiliates, including the VA San Diego Healthcare System, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, and San Diego’s robust community clinic system, UC San Diego Health System is poised to transform health care in San Diego.

UC San Diego Health System’s clinical focus is to expand and enhance clinical delivery systems to better serve San Diego County and the growing number of patients traveling from outside the region to seek care from UC San Diego Health System specialists. At its two campuses, the Health System is investing in areas of key importance to a growing and aging population: heart disease, cancer and surgical specialties, and women’s and infants’ health.

In Hillcrest, UC San Diego Medical Center will offer a core of integrated services focused on complex emergent and organ transplantation care.

The La Jolla campus will integrate world-class talent for advanced cancer, cardiovascular, and high risk reproductive and neonatal care. In spring 2011 the four-story, $227 million UC San Diego Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, the region’s first dedicated multidisciplinary center for heart care, is scheduled to open near Thornton Hospital.