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UCLA Launches New University-Based Military Medicine Center

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ucla wounded_warriorA donation by the sons of inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Ronald A. Katz has allowed University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences, to launch what it calls the “first university-based military medicine center for wounded warriors on the West Coast.”

According to a news release from the university, the Ronald A. Katz Center for Collaborative Military Medicine at UCLA was funded by an initial $2 million gift from Todd and Randy Katz and their families to honor their father’s work.

Gene Block, UCLA Chancellor, calls the donation, “a magnificent gift in honor of a magnificent supporter, Ronald A. Katz, who shares UCLA’s deep appreciation and dedication to the men and women who serve our country…The Katz Center for Collaborative Military Medicine will seek to enhance our resources for veterans in every area.”

The center will reportedly work with the US military to address the challenges of healing and caring for the nation’s most critically wounded warriors. The center is also intended to facilitate collaborations and partnerships both within the university and between UCLA and the military in an effort to increase the nation’s ability to care for wounded veterans. The release states that the center will operate as a clearinghouse for all military needs, providing access to medical care and support programs including UCLA’s Operation Mend; mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) evaluation, treatment, and research; regenerative medicine research; and wearable medical device research.

The release also notes that the new center will reside within the UCLA Health System and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. It will be led by its first appointed executive director Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general who served as the 32nd vice chief of staff of the US Army, from August 2008 to January 2012 and place a key focus on enhancing treatment protocols for TBI, craniofacial reconstruction, limb reconstruction, hand and face transplantation, and other critical areas.

“This new center will leverage and maximize the university’s brain trust of knowledge, experience, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit to address and tackle the challenges of military medicine,” Chiarelli says, “The ultimate goal of these collaborative relationships is to move medical advances from bench to bedside as quickly as possible for the clinical care of wounded warriors through programs such as Operation Mend,” he adds.

The university reports that the center will remain dedicated to core areas of specialized clinical care, particularly through existing programs such as Operation Mend and UCLA’s Families OverComing Under Stress (FOCUS). Katz and his late wife, Maddie, donated $1 million to launch Operation Mend in 2007. The university notes that since its launch, Operation Mend has grown and expanded beyond reconstructive surgery to include special services at UCLA such as TBI diagnostics and treatment and orthopedic reconstruction for severely damaged limbs.

The lessons learned through UCLA’s research efforts in the areas of battlefield technology, healthcare, bioengineering, and telecommunication, Ronald A. Katz says, can be applied universally, as, “Military conflicts historically have presented unique challenges in medical care that have driven endeavors with lifesaving results for military patients and ultimately, great progress in civilian medicine as well.”

David T. Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System, CEO of the UCLA, adds that, “It is a privilege for UCLA to assist our country’s men and women in the military, and we salute the pioneering role played by visionaries such as Ron Katz.”

[Source: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences]