UC BRAID Collaborations Work to Impact Health throughout California

Celebrating ten years of shared infrastructure and programs that accelerate research and improve health, UC BRAID convened its annual meeting on October 14-15, 2019 at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center. UC BRAID, the University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, & Development, is a consortium of the five UC academic medical centers—Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

The University of California has been a driving force for biomedical discovery in the state, nation, and world. The UC academic medical centers continue to address the challenge of accelerating the translation of basic and applied research to new therapies and policies that truly impact health throughout California. This year’s Retreat theme: “One California: Integrating Research into Health Care” was designed to identify specific milestones, metrics, and approaches to expand the reach of UC system biomedical research, to share updates on UC BRAID’s  priority initiatives and discuss future directions. The Retreat was attended by a wide-ranging set of leaders, faculty, and administrators from UC campuses and the Office of the President. 

Michael Kurilla, NCATS Director of Clinical Innovation
Michael Kurilla, NCATS Director of Clinical Innovation

In a time filled with new medical advances and a changing regulatory and funding landscape, UC BRAID has worked to strategize and collaborate over emerging healthcare needs. Laurie Herraiz, RD, UC BRAID’s new Executive Director, launched the meeting by emphasizing UC BRAID’s strengths and how they would contribute to future plans. Herraiz said, “I see the UC BRAID mission as two-fold: sustain the successes that we’ve achieved, and be more than just adaptive to - but predictive of - the emergent needs and challenges in biomedical research. We accomplish this by using the combined power of the five campuses.”

Both days included a host of speakers influential to UC BRAID’s mission and future objectives:

John Stobo, MD, outgoing Executive Vice President (EVP) of UC Health, highlighted BRAID’s achievements, notably the development of UC ReX, a data warehouse which demonstrated how the five universities could collaboratively build a robust repository of de-identified patient data. UC ReX paved the way for the development of the Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) Network with its 40 million de-identified patient records and the UC Health Data Warehouse, now available to researchers across the UC system

​​Charles Friedman, PhD, from University of Michigan delivered the keynote presentation on the Learning Health System. Considering how UC BRAID could move the process along in the UC Health system, he said we could address gaps with the “identification of priorities, alignment of timelines and support of resources.” As his Tuesday talk outlined, the UC engaging a learning health system would allow for a “virtuous cycle” in which the biomedical research enterprise and health care system collaborate seamlessly to continually improve health.

Breakout sessions addressed several of key, high-impact areas that UC BRAID can support:​

  • Determining how to optimally engage community partners in the goal of accelerating discovery into practice
  • Considering learning health system concepts—how the UC Health could build a “virtuous cycle” in which the biomedical research enterprise and UC health care system collaborate seamlessly to continually improve health
  • Positioning BRAID to tap into the unique talent and unprecedented scale of the UC system to facilitate the kind of novel multi-site clinical trials that can transform health care and delivery
  • Optimizing the collaboration between basic, translational, clinical and data scientists to bridge the discovery and delivery components of UC’s health care enterprise

Michael Kurilla, MD, PhD, NCATS director of the Division of Clinical Innovation, emphasized the strength and capabilities of regional networks like UC BRAID. “The more utility that networks like UC BRAID can demonstrate, the more that will allow us to answer bigger and bigger questions,” explained Kurilla during the question and answer portion of his talk.

Carrie Byington, MD, new EVP of UC Health, noted the tremendous opportunity UC BRAID and the UC CTSAs have to strengthen the unique brand for the UC system. “[UC Health] has the academic health centers to provide excellent health care and maintain a commitment to discovery,” she noted, referring to UC BRAID as a ‘shining example of systemness’.

UC BRAID is currently engaged in a strategic planning process and the strategies discussed at the breakout sessions will help inform the consortium’s direction as it enters its next decade.

Day 2 of the retreat included updates on several critical UC BRAID projects from the Industry Contracts, Participant Recruitment and UC IRB workgroups. In addition, UC BRAID partners were invited to share insights. Elizabeth Engel, UC Health Chief Strategic Officer, provided a global snapshot of UC Health’s strategic objectives and discussed opportunities to collaborate with UC BRAID to improve patient care and outcomes. Atul Butte, UC Health Chief Data Scientist, provided an update on the UC Clinical Data Warehouse (UC CDW), a central database combining the Electronic Health Record from all UC medical systems and its new research cohort builder and browser function.

Dan Cooper, MD, UC BRAID Chair, summed up the potential that came from the retreat by saying “This year, UC BRAID has fully embraced UC’s guiding principle, Fiat Lux. We are embarked on a transformative journey for clinical research that harnesses the unparalleled talent and creative genius of this great university. Our goal is simple: to support novel clinical research that tackles the toughest biomedical problems and improves health for all the people of our diverse state and beyond.” IMG_2097.JPG

Click here to see presentations from the retreat.

Original article on the UC BRAID website