publication date: Nov. 15, 2019

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Teitell: How immunotherapy became the fourth pillar of cancer care at UCLA


Michael A. Teitell

Director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology,

Professor, Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Bioengineering


As one of the cancer hospitals serving Los Angeles County, the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Center has to face the challenge of providing the most sophisticated—and most expensive—care to a largely underserved population.

“LA County is large and diverse. We have over 10 million individuals, and about 76% of the total would be considered as underrepresented groups,” said Michael A. Teitell, director, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Latta Endowed Chair in Pathology, and professor at the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Bioengineering.

“We really try to serve all patients from all walks of life who need specialized services,” Teitell said. “So, here we have financial assistance policies that we follow that are in compliance with our state law in California for patients who are in need of financial assistance. We have institutional staff in relation to CAR T therapy who work closely with commercial and governmental payers to try to obtain funding on a case-by-case basis.”

In a conversation with The Cancer Letter, Teitell spoke about the role of immunotherapy—including CAR T, which can cost over $450,000 for a single dose—in the care UCLA delivers at its hospitals and local practices within its catchment area.


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