About the Vice President for Research

Research Administration

About the Vice President for Research and Health Affairs


Jay Vadgama, Ph.DDr. Vadgama is the Vice President for Research and Health Affairs at CDU. Prior, he served as Interim Executive Vice President for Research and Health Affairs at CDU from 2012 - 2015, and as Associate Vice President for Research and Health Affairs from 2011 to 2012. He is a Full Professor of Medicine at CDU and at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in the Department(s) of Internal Medicine. Dr. Vadgama has provided significant leadership in growing and sustaining research at CDU over the last two decades. Dr. Vadgama has several additional administrative responsibilities that include Chair of the Institutional Space Committee, Chair of the PhD Planning Committee, establishing the Intellectual Property/Patent Committee at CDU, Institutional Official for IACUC, and Chairing several Task Force committees.

Dr. Vadgama is the Chief of the Division of Cancer Research and Training; Director for the Center to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities; and Director of Molecular Oncology Program in the Department of Internal Medicine at CDU. Dr. Vadgama holds Endowed Chair for Cancer Research, and is the Director of the Cancer Cluster at CDU. He is a Principal Investigator of two of the largest center grants at CDU. He is also PI and Co-Investigator on several other projects. His academic career is in the area of Health Disparities and in particular oncology: basic, clinical and translational areas.

He grew up in Tanzania, East Africa and later studied in England. He obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees at University of London, and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan. He joined UCLA School of Medicine as a faculty member in 1986 and at CDU at the end of 1992. He has retained both of his CDU and UCLA appointments.

Leadership Experience: Dr. Vadgama continues to serve as Division Chief, Center Director, Vice President, member of the President’s Executive Team and the Provost’s Team in addition to several additional executive roles. He has over 30 years of direct experience in Academia and Research with a strong understanding of the processes, policies and procedures necessary to attain academic excellence. He continues to provide significant support and leadership to Students, Faculty, Academic Senate, Division Chiefs, Department Chairs, Deans, Provosts, and University Presidents on matters relevant to research, academic processes, challenges, and growth. He continues to work with faculty, students and staff to strengthen clinical, basic, and translational research/programs and integrate them with academic programs across campus and develop strong partnerships with UCLA, Cedars and other institutions. At the request of the University President and Deans, he has represented the University at several national forums on cancer and health disparities and he serves in an advisory capacity to the President and the Executive Team for directing research initiatives at CDU in partnership with other institutions. 

Strength in Diversity: Dr. Vadgama has over 20 years of experience in working at Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and Hispanic Serving institution (HSI). In 1992/3, he was recruited to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science as Director of Laboratory Research and Development to develop research infrastructure in Biomedical Sciences that supported underrepresented and underserved undergraduate students, graduate students, medical residents, clinical fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. In addition, during these last 21 years and prior, he has had extensive experience working with underrepresented and underresourced communities in South Central Los Angeles and neighboring communities. Dr. Vadgama states “It continues to be an honor and privilege to be able to make differences in the day to day lives of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners”.

Translational Cancer Research Experience: Dr. Vadgama has extensive experience in conducting oncology research that integrates clinical, basic, and community-partnered research. The outcome of these efforts has resulted in the development of translational cancer research at CDU. Research programs in his division focus on: 1) genetics and epigenetics; 2) identification of cellular/molecular markers, and novel genes for early detection, prevention and management of breast, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancers; 3) mechanisms associated with bone metastasis from breast cancer; 4) role of mismatch repair proteins and microsatellite instability in colorectal cancer in minority populations; 5) identification and characterization of normal and cancer stem cells in breast and prostate cancers that contribute to drug resistance; 6) role of obesity, metabolism, and comorbidities in breast cancer; and 7) cancer outreach and prevention studies. His research team is providing significant leadership in understanding the role of comorbidities such Diabetes and Hypertension in the risk and prognosis for cancer diagnosis and treatment. His group has identified that Obesity contributes significantly to the risk for cancer development and poor clinical outcome. He has been a recipient of numerous extramural grants. Recent examples include: 1) Identification of novel biomarkers associated with risk for bone metastasis from breast cancer; and 2) Role of Mismatch Repair Proteins and Microsatellite Instability in Colorectal Cancer in African American and Hispanic patients. Currently, Dr. Vadgama is the Principal Investigator of several center grants in cancer at CDU in partnership with UCLA. The CDU/UCLA Cancer Center Partnership was recently refunded for over $12.6M (2015-2020) by the National Cancer Institute (U54CA143931) to enhance cancer disparities research at CDU and support programs in developing novel research, sustaining a biomarker identification repository, formal training programs for students, fellows, and faculty, as well as community engagement activities, and clinical research studies. In addition, Dr. Vadgama was the PI of a program funded by the Department of Defense to develop a center of excellence in breast cancer research, education, and treatment at CDU. He is also currently the Principal Investigator of the AXIS grant funded by NIH-NIMHD (U54MD007598). This program was re-funded with an outstanding score and at $16M over five years (2014-2019). He has several additional grants and extensive collaborations with renowned cancer investigators at UCLA, Cedars, Harbor-UCLA, and some international groups. Dr. Vadgama has been funded by federal grants for over $20M between 2009 and 2015. In addition he has contributed to over $50M of federal funding since his arrival at CDU.

Other Professional Experience : Dr. Vadgama serves as reviewer for grants submitted to the NIH, DOD, VHA, and EPSRC. He is Editor-In-Chief of IJBS, and serves on the editorial board of 9 journals and an ad-hoc reviewer for 23 peer- reviewed journals. Dr. Vadgama has participated at national and international cancer meetings as chair, co-chair, invited honorary and keynote speaker. In addition, he has served on several community-partnered panels and conferences and was recently honored with a Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and Community Partnership award.

Teaching and Training Experience: Dr. Vadgama has extensive experience in training students, residents and fellows in basic, clinical, and translational cancer research. His training programs have been funded from the NIH since 2004 and he serves as mentor and reviewer for several training programs including the CTSI and Susan G. Komen Foundation. To date, Dr. Vadgama has mentored 32 postdoctoral fellows, 13 clinical residents, >15 graduate or medical students (mostly underrepresented), >80 undergraduate students, and several high school students. Dr. Vadgama continues to serve as a mentor for several funded early stage investigators at CDU and the UCLA School of Medicine. In addition, he mentors several underrepresented trainees from schools such as CDU, UCLA, UCI, UCR, CSUDH, USC, and others.

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