Scientific Research Priorities

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is dedicated to advancing basic, translational, clinical and outcomes-based research.  With access to one of the largest and uniquely diverse pediatric populations in the United States, physicians and scientists have the opportunity to research and develop innovative treatments that are relevant to children here and across the globe.  The Institute’s interdisciplinary research is organized around three synergistic areas of focus that together fully explore the developmental origins of health and disease and address the most pressing national child health issues:

The interdisciplinary, interdepartmental work at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles centers on these major scientific priorities to address child health and disease susceptibility:

Cancer and Blood Diseases

Basic and translational cancer research primarily focuses on neural tumors, acute leukemia and sarcomas. Hematology investigators are conducting pioneering research into iron overload, the pathology of sickle cell disease, and the treatment of childhood bleeding and clotting disorders. The CBDI is home to more major, multi-center clinical trials and research consortia than any other program of its kind in the country.

Community, Health Outcomes and Intervention

This program works to promote the health and well-being of families through interventions designed to reduce health disparities and barriers to healthy living. Community-based research examines areas ranging from obesity and diabetes to teen births, HIV/AIDS, child abuse and neglect.  The program is also engaged in research on the early identification and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Developmental Neurosciences

Focused on understanding the developing brain, the Neurosciences research program uses a molecular genetics and cellular imaging approach to provide novel insights into the developmental origins of neurological disorders. Researchers also seek to understand how genes and environmental factors influence memory, attention, language, social communication and behavior during critical developmental periods.

Diabetes and Obesity

Researchers are exploring the mechanisms contributing to the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes in children, and developing strategies to reduce the burden of these conditions. Studying metabolic syndromes and their impact on obesity, cancer risk and cardiovascular disease, researchers also aim to improve treatment and prevention of these disorders.


The focus of the Children’s Health Imaging research program is to advance the use of imaging technology in the study of pediatric disease in the laboratory and in clinical practice. Its goals include providing a specialized imaging core facility to develop biomarkers and outcome measures, and to study the biological and metabolic determinants of musculoskeletal development.

Immunology, Infectious Disease and Pathogens

In research ranging from studies of bacterial meningitis to the transmission of HIV in breast milk, scientists strive to understand the mechanisms by which bacteria, viruses and fungi colonize, invade and evade immune response. They also seek to define the role of innate, adaptive and intrinsic immunity in studies that serve as the basis for antimicrobials, vaccines and public health interventions.

Regenerative Medicine

The goal of the program is to impact unmet medical needs through advancements in basic stem cell biology, applied stem cell therapies and tissue engineering. By investigating the basic mechanisms of human organ development, repair and regeneration, scientists aim to discover novel targets for cellular therapies and understand how to generate tissue engineered organs.

Other important research areas at Children's Hospital Los Angeles include:


Researchers in the Heart Institute are studying the role of genetics in pediatric heart disease; working to improve the odds of transplantation success; advancing imaging capabilities; and developing new therapies, surgical techniques and novel medical devices. They are also developing sophisticated technologies, such as fetal stents and pacemakers, for treating babies for congenital heart conditions in the womb.


Orthopaedic surgeons participate in clinical research to identify underlying causes and improve surgical treatment options for conditions such as bone and soft-tissue tumors; hip disorders; scoliosis and spinal deformities; and neuromuscular disorders, including cerebral palsy and spina bifida. They also conduct clinical studies in sports medicine, hand surgery and microsurgery.  

Personalized Medicine and Genomics

The Center for Personalized Medicine brings together physicians and scientists with expertise in genomics, clinical genetics, bioinformatics and molecular diagnostics, working in collaboration with specialists throughout CHLA. Research is focused on three broad categories with the greatest potential to impact children’s health: oncology, inherited disease, and infectious disease.

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