Mission & History
We create hope and build healthier futures.
As a leader in pediatric academic medicine, we fulfill our mission by:
- Caring for children, teens, young adults and families
- Making discoveries and advances that enhance health and save lives
- Training those who will be the future of child health
- Supporting our communities, especially underserved populations
First at CHLA
Cancer and Blood Disease Institute
The Cancer and Blood Disease Institute pioneered treatments now used as the standard for acute leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.
The Heart Institute performed the first pediatric heart surgery on the West Coast in 1939.
Our Department of Radiology has changed the world of brain research for children with the development of a magnetic resonance-compatible incubator, making CHLA the first in the world to perform functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on even the tiniest babies. This powerful tool, which allows researchers to study how the developing brain processes information, will advance the understanding of brain function in both children and adults.
The Saban Research Institute
Researchers at The Saban Research Institute:
- pioneered a treatment that improved the survival rate of children with neuroblastoma from 15% to 55% (treatment combines bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy and retinoic acid)
- developed an innovative laser/chemotherapy treatment for retinoblastoma that is considered the most significant therapeutic advance in a quarter-century
- performed the world's first transfer of a healthy gene into the umbilical cord blood cells of a newborn to correct a genetic defect detected in utero in a baby with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, known in common parlance as “bubble baby” disease
- conducted the world’s first gene therapy clinical trial for children infected with HIV-1
- identified molecules that interact with genes to trigger the growth of lung stem cells into lung tissue, becoming the first to grow lung tissue in the laboratory
The history of Children's Hospital Los Angeles is an ongoing story of how exceptional leaders advance and even transform a community. Children's Hospital was founded at a time when few people thought a hospital for children was possible, let alone that it could -- or would -- evolve into one of the world's outstanding pediatric healthcare facilities.
Founded in 1901, Children's Hospital Los Angeles is a worldwide leader in pediatric and adolescent health. Children's Hospital is one of America's premier teaching hospitals, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.
Planning for the first Children’s Hospital begins at a town meeting at the YMCA Auditorium, in what is now Downtown Los Angeles. At the time, the city has a population of 102,479 residents.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is founded as a private charitable hospital on April 1, 1901, by the King’s Daughters, one of the first female philanthropic organizations in Los Angeles. Mrs. L.E.M. Brainerd serves as the first president.
Known as “the little house on Castelar Street,” in what is now Chinatown, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles admits 14 patients in its first year. The “surgery suite” opens in what was the house’s pantry. The hospital’s only doctor makes house calls on horseback.
Kate Page Crutcher becomes president, serving until 1946. Under Mrs. Crutcher’s tenure, the hospital grows from a small volunteer service in a house to a major pediatric facility.
A new hospital named Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles will be built on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Hollywood. Mrs. Emma Phillips bequeaths four acres to the Children’s Hospital Society for the project.
On Feb. 7, President Woodrow Wilson presides by telegraph from the White House over the official opening of the new Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He presses a button on his desk, “causing bells to ring and throws the building into a blaze of light.”
Kate Page Crutcher establishes the Hermosa Beach Auxiliary (later called the South Bay Auxiliary), the first of many Associate and Affiliate fundraising groups established to support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The group is still in existence today.
The Department of Physiotherapy opens for children in need of physical rehabilitation, many of whom are suffering from polio.
The Children’s Hospital School of Physical Therapy opens, one of only five accredited physical therapy schools in nation.
The first children’s heart clinic opens at Children’s Hospital, the only program of its kind in the western United States.
The Hermosa Beach Auxiliary presents the Hermosa Beach Convalescent Home to Children’s Hospital, providing for children who need longer term care after they leave the hospital.
The hospital becomes affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
The Kate Page Crutcher Building opens, housing a physical therapy gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and treatment rooms. It later becomes the Teenage Health Center.
The first successful ligation surgery in western North America for patent ductus arteriosus — a condition in which abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart — is performed at Children’s Hospital.
After years of inconsistency, lawyers for the hospital recommend using the name as it appears in the hospital’s original incorporation papers, without an apostrophe.
The Junior League of Los Angeles donates its Convalescent Home on Westmoreland Avenue to the hospital, providing a safer inland location during World War II for children needing long-term care.
Mary McAlister Duque joins the Board of Children’s Hospital. Mrs. Duque is the driving fundraising force for the hospital for the next 40 years. She serves as president of the Board of Directors from 1970 until her death in 1990.
The Hematology Program is established.
Pediatric Research Laboratories open.
The Michael J. Connell Clinic opens, a three-story building which provides much needed space for outpatient care, increasing the hospital’s bed count to 233.
The Santa Anita Foundation Research Building is dedicated, allowing for expansion of research programs.
Children’s Hospital researchers publish findings on the treatment of acute lymphatic leukemia with the drug Prednisone, establishing the drug as the standard of care for treating this form of leukemia.
The Division of Hematology is established.
Nearly nine acres of land surrounding the hospital are acquired, paving the way for expansion.
The name is legally changed from Childrens Hospital Society of Los Angeles to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
The Division of Adolescent Medicine is established.
The Development Fund Campaign is announced. Mary Duque supplements the talents of her women’s fund-raising corps with a broad-based group of community and business leaders.
The Division of Nephrology is founded, becoming one of only two programs in the U.S. performing dialysis on children.
The first kidney transplant is performed at Children’s Hospital.
The Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism is established.
The new 282,000-square-foot, nine-story hospital building opens. In 1973 it is named in honor of Mary Duque.
The first pediatric protective environment is developed, now known as the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, for children with resistant cancers undergoing intense chemotherapy.
The Division of Allergy is established.
The Divisions of Neonatology and Pediatric Pulmonology are established, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, now known as the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit.
The 165,000-square-foot McAlister Building opens. The building is made possible by a gift from Fern and Harold McAlister, brother of Mary Duque.
For the first time in Children’s Hospital history, a six-month-old patient on mechanically-assisted ventilation for a breathing disorder is discharged home while still on a ventilator.
The 85,000-square-foot George C. Page Building is dedicated, thanks to a pledge from Mr. Page, vice president of the hospital’s Board of Directors.
The first successful bone marrow transplant of a patient with Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome, a genetic immune system disorder that can lead to frequent infections and excessive bleeding, is performed at Children’s Hospital.
The Weingart Foundation Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is established, becoming the largest PICU in the western United States.
The Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Research Immunology is founded. The first bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital is performed.
The Immunology Program is established.
The Division of Plastic Surgery opens.
Children’s Hospital becomes a charter member of the Children’s Miracle Network.
Physicians at Children’s Hospital identify the first pediatric AIDS case in Southern California.
Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles discover the relationship between Type 1b glycogen storage disease and inflammatory bowel disease, leading to an innovative treatment.
Children’s Hospital establishes the first formal pediatric AIDS program in Southern California. The Patient and Family Resource Center opens, an information and referral service center for patient families.
The ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) program accepts its first patients, offering heart-lung bypass support to infants in respiratory failure.
The 120,000-square-foot H. Russell and Jeanne R. Smith Research Tower is completed on Sunset Boulevard, named in honor of the person who guided the hospital through troubling financial times in the early 1980s as chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Smith also was an advocate for and supporter of pediatric research at Children’s Hospital.
Children’s Hospital is named among the top four pediatric facilities in the country in the first U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Hospitals” survey.
The “of” in Children’s Hospital’s name is dropped, renaming the hospital Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Physicians pioneer the development of limb implants to treat bone cancer, saving young patients from amputation or death.
1991 - Scientists at Children’s Hospital discover that bone marrow may be removed, purged of cancerous tumor cells and returned to the patient, proving a highly effective treatment for certain cancers.
A surgical team implants a miniature pacemaker into an 8-day-old premature infant weighing only 3 pounds, one of the smallest recipients ever to receive a pacemaker.
A 110,000-square-foot outpatient tower opens on the south side of the Children’s Hospital campus, allowing for expansion of needed clinic space.
Surgeons perform three firsts for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: a pediatric heart transplant, a pediatric lung transplant and, in worldwide first, a double-lobe lung transplant, using a lung lobe from each of the patient’s parents.
In a hospital first, Children’s Hospital and USC physicians perform a bone marrow transplant on a patient with sickle cell disease.
The world’s first transfer of a healthy gene into umbilical cord blood cells of a newborn corrects a genetic defect.
The world’s first gene therapy is performed on newborns with ADA-deficient severe combined immunodeficiency (Bubble Baby Disease).
Researchers at Children’s Hospital discover the key role that transcription factor TTF-1 plays in the formation of the embryonic lung, a major advancement in the quest to grow or regenerate organs for repair or transplant.
Physicians collaborate on a clinical trial using gene therapy for the first time on a child with HIV-1 infection, resulting in the world’s first gene therapy treatment for children with the disease.
On the front lawn of Children’s Hospital, Gov. Pete Wilson signs legislation creating the Healthy Families program, designed to provide comprehensive, affordable private health insurance to California’s low-income uninsured children.
Surgeons perform the hospital’s first liver transplant, and in that same year, its first living donor liver transplant. Lydia Hand is the recipient.
Helinet Aviation provides a $2 million Sikorsky S-76A helicopter to be used exclusively by the hospital’s Emergency Transport Program, ensuring 24-hour helicopter services at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Identical twins suffering from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare blood disease, are the first to receive a bone marrow transplant from the same donor.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles celebrates its Centennial with a full year of activities.
The 105,000-square-foot Gateway Building and the Bertie Green Bettingen Surgery Center open as part of the Centennial celebration.
Surgeons perform the hospital’s first “bloodless” liver transplant, performed without the transfusion of blood or blood products. The procedure honors religious beliefs that do not allow blood transfusions, and also reduces the risk of infection and immunological complications.
The Saban Research Institute opens; both the Institute and the 88,500-square-foot Saban Research Building are named with a transformative $40 million gift from Cheryl Saban, PhD, and Haim Saban, among the largest individual donors in the hospital’s history.
The Living Proof campaign is announced, which goes on to raise more than $1 billion and becomes the largest fundraising effort in the hospital’s history.
Surgeons perform the hospital’s first small bowel transplant.
A groundbreaking ceremony is held to celebrate construction of a new $636 million Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion, to be built next to Children’s Hospital.
Eight local high school students are the first to participate in LA-HIP (Latino and African American High School Internship Program), opening more opportunities in research to minorities.
The Vision Center, an international center for children with complex eye diseases, opens.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) grants Magnet status to Children’s Hospital, the highest recognition a hospital can receive for nursing excellence.
Surgeons perform the hospital’s first kidney/liver transplant.
The structural steel “Topping Off” ceremony is held for the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion.
Children’s Hospital creates the Center for Personalized Medicine, which coordinates, supports and expands basic and translational research in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, molecular genetics, molecular microbiology and cytogenetics.
Children’s Hospital’s 460,000-square-foot Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion is completed.
The hospital is named one of eight children’s hospitals in the nation — and the only on the West Coast — ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report, earning the facility a seat on the national Honor Roll of children’s hospital by the magazine.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles unveils a new logo and tagline, and also officially adds the long-lost apostrophe back into the hospital’s name.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of just seven children’s hospitals to be designated a “Top Hospital” for 2010 by The Leapfrog Group, and the only one in the western United States.
CHLA launches its very first outpatient specialty center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – Arcadia.
Marion and John E. Anderson announce a $50 million gift to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In their honor, the new hospital building is named the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion.
Once again, Children’s Hospital is ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report, earning a seat on the magazine’s national Honor Roll of children’s hospitals. It is one of only 11 hospitals in the nation to make the list, and the only one in California.
On July 17, 2011, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles officially opens the 317-bed Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion.
The hospital is again named to the prestigious “Top Hospital” list by The Leapfrog Group for 2011.
Children’s Hospital completes the Living Proof campaign, the most successful fundraising effort in the hospital’s history. It is the only single fundraising campaign by a freestanding, independent children’s hospital to raise more than $1 billion.
CHLA launches its second outpatient specialty center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – Valencia.
The hospital is again ranked among the top five children’s hospitals in the country, and is the only hospital on the West Coast to be listed on U.S. News and World Report’s Honor Roll of children’s hospitals for 2013-14.
CHLA earns Magnet redesignation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
The hospital opens two new outpatient specialty centers, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – South Bay (in Torrance), and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – Santa Monica.
The hospital continues its streak, ranking among the top five children’s hospitals in the country for the third year in a row, and is again the only hospital on the West Coast to make U.S. News and World Report’s Honor Roll of children’s hospitals.
For the seventh straight year, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s prestigious honor roll of children’s hospital. It is the only hospital in California to make the list.
CHLA opens its fifth outpatient specialty center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – Encino.
The hospital welcomes new president and CEO Paul S. Viviano in August 2015.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation on the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals for the eighth consecutive year. Ranking No. 7, it is the top ranked pediatric hospital in California as well.
CHLA is again ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation, gaining one spot at No. 6, on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals. The hospital is the top-ranked pediatric facility on the West Coast.
The hospital launched the CHLA Health Network, the first pediatric clinically integrated network in Los Angeles County.
For the third consecutive time, the American Nurses Credentialing Center bestows Magnet recognition for Clinical Excellence on Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
CHLA is again ranked the No. 6 children’s hospital in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals. The hospital is the top-ranked pediatric facility in the western United States.
CHLA jumps one spot to No. 5 on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals, making the hospital the No. 1 children’s hospital in California, No. 1 in the western U.S. and a top 5 hospital in the nation.
CHLA is again ranked the No. 5 children’s hospital in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals.
For the third straight year, CHLA is ranked the No. 5 children’s hospital in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals.