Carlos Portera-Cailliau, MD, PhD, steps down as MSTP Director

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After eight years of amazing leadership, Carlos Portera-Cailliau, MD, PhD, has decided to step down as Co-Director of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program.

Dr. Portera-Cailliau has been instrumental in ensuring the success of this flagship program training future generations of physician scientists and maintaining our successful NIH funding of this important educational training program.

Dr. Portera-Cailliau received his Bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and his M.D.-Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He then completed his residency in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he was Chief Resident, followed by a movement disorders fellowship and a post-doc at Columbia University and a second post-doc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Carlos was recruited as faculty in UCLA’s Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology in 2005 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2015.  Dr. Portera-Cailliau became Co-Director of the UCLA-Caltech MSTP in 2013.  Under his leadership over the last 8 years, the Program grew in size by ~50%, became more diverse and increasingly engaged its students to help with admissions, education and mentorship.  Together with his fellow Co-Directors, Siavash Kurdistani (2013-2015), Leanne Jones (2015-2019) and David Dawson (2019-present), Dr. Portera-Cailliau successfully renewed the $1.5 M T32 grant that supports the Program, established a longitudinal clinical preceptorship for MSTP students in the last year of their PhD, re-instituted a biennial retreat, assembled an Internal Advisory Board, and expanded outreach to local colleges and high schools.

Most recently, he helped launch a new undergraduate summer research fellowship designed for students from under-represented groups to receive mentoring as they prepare to apply for MD-PhD programs.  Dr. Portera-Cailliau will now focus on his research program which investigates how disruptions of brain circuits lead to symptoms in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

We thank Dr. Dr. Portera-Cailliau for his outstanding leadership and service to our trainees and to our institution, and for his tremendous impact on the physician scientist community.