UCLA experts on viral detection, therapies, epidemiology and immunology will be among the speakers participating in a webinar series dedicated to the latest research on the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Spotlight Series begins April 22.

The series is organized by the UCLA Technology Development Group, which manages UCLA’s intellectual property portfolio and relationships with private businesses that commercialize UCLA research. It is intended for members of the bioscience ecosystem including private industry, investors and researchers.

The webinars will be held in place of the Technology Development Group’s 2020 LABEST conference (formerly UCLA Bioscience Innovation Day), which had been scheduled for May as a live event. In light of the pandemic, TDG changed course and created an online platform that will share the expertise of UCLA’s researchers who are involved in the fight against COVID-19.

“The series will shine a spotlight on leading-edge research from UCLA that is making an impact in this critical effort,” said Mark Wisniewski, the Technology Development Group’s senior director of biopharmaceuticals. “We also want to drive awareness of UCLA research and engagement with the biopharma industry to foster the kind of collaborations  that will continue to advance Los Angeles as a leading ecosystem for bioscience.”

The first event in the series will be online from 3 to 4 p.m. on April 22, and the conversation will center on the multifaceted approach to tackling the pandemic.

The speakers are:

  • Ren Sun, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology who is developing saliva test strips to diagnose SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Dr. Otto Yang, a professor of medicine who has developed immunotherapies and nanoparticle vaccines against HIV and other viruses and is currently investigating their application to COVID-19.
  • Daniel Kamei, a professor of bioengineering who develops point-of-care diagnostic technology that could be applied to detecting COVID-19 detection.
  • Eran Halperin, a professor of computational medicine who is a co-lead on UCLA’s Stop Covid-19 Together initiative, which is crowdsourcing data from participants to help researchers understand how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting different communities.

”Future treatments and prediction tools for pandemics will come from research done in academic centers,” said Amir Naiberg, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for the Technology Development Group. “TDG’s motto is ‘Innovation that will change the world,’ and in this series, we are proud to present the type of innovation that will preserve our way of living. This is the time for all stakeholders to understand the importance of academic research and give it the support it needs.”

Future webinars are planned for May 6, on the topic of immunotherapy research, and May 20, when therapeutic screening assays will be discussed. Start times for the May 6 and May 20 webinars will be announced on the LABEST website soon.

The events are free, but attendance is limited to the first 500 participants. Registration in advance is required.