Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D.

    Deputy Director, Institute for Precision Health at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

    Dr. Lajonchere is the Deputy Director for the newly-founded UCLA Institute for Precision Health. Although her background reflects a wide range of professional, clinical, and research experience across CNS disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, she has spent her career working on cross-cutting issues in psychiatric genetics. Over the course of her career, she has used a team science approach to bridge the chasm between the discoveries made in the laboratory and the development of therapeutics and interventions that have relevance for patients.   To this end, she has brought together cross-disciplinary teams of scientists, clinicians and patient advocacy groups to support large-scale collaborative research programs, training opportunities, and translational initiatives that have been transformative in the field of autism and psychiatric genetics.

    For over a decade, she served as the VP of Clinical Programs at Autism Speaks where she was responsible for building scalable programs such as the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), the Autism Tissue Program, the Autism Treatment Network (ATN), and several large-scale bioinformatic initiatives. She generated significant federal funding from NIH to support her own scientific programs and research activities through her academic research appointments at USC.  She has also worked closely with the Latino community in Los Angeles and has received significant federal funding to develop models for authentic inclusion of minority populations in biomedical research.  Two and a half years ago, Dr. Lajonchere stepped out of academia and the non-profit world to work in the Silicon Valley with a digital healthcare startup that used machine learning and mobile technology to identify children who may be at risk for developmental disabilities and autism using their mobile phones.

    Dr. Lajonchere received her formal training in experimental psychology at Washington University in St. Louis with a particular emphasis on cognitive neuroscience and child psychopathology. Dr. Lajonchere has held research appointments in pediatrics and the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC and Keck School of Medicine and will be joining the Neurology faculty at UCLA in the spring