USC poaches UCLA brain research lab

The UCLA-USC crosstown rivalry took a new turn today with a major case of academic poaching. USC has lured away two prominent neuroscientists from UCLA with a promise to expand their internationally renowned lab.

uclabrainsTheir research uses brain imaging techniques to study Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism and other disorders. Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson will move to the USC Keck School of Medicine campus next fall, along with a team of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staffers who now work at UCLA’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

In establishing a new institute at the USC campus in Boyle Heights, they will also move substantial government and private grants that fund the lab’s $12 million dollar annual budget as well as some of the highly sophisticated equipment used to investigate the brain’s inner workings.

UCLA and the rest of the 10-campus University of California system has grappled with budget cuts over the last four years. Toga and Thompson told the Los Angeles Times that USC has pursued them for years with offers of larger facilities, additional financial resources and the chance to hire more researchers.

They said they were also were impressed with how quickly private universities can make changes compared with state schools.

LA Times education reporter Larry Gordon co-wrote an article today with Eryn Brown about the move, and joined KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis to discuss.