L.A. Now Live: USC lures away some of UCLA’s top science minds


In a major case of academic poaching among cross-town rivals, USC is announcing Friday that it is hiring away prominent UCLA neuroscientists and moving an internationally renowned lab that uses brain imaging to research such diseases as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and autism to its medical school campus.

Join us at 9 a.m. as we discuss the scientific boon for USC with Times reporters Larry Gordon and Eryn Brown.

UCLA professors Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson said they will switch to USC’s medical campus next fall along with dozens of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staffers who now work at UCLA’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.


In establishing a new institute at USC, they will also move substantial federal and private grants that fund the lab’s current $12-million annual budget and some of the highly sophisticated equipment used to analyze imaging data on the brain’s workings — in healthy people as well as in patients with disorders.

The cross-town shift is another chapter in a long Los Angeles rivalry in sports and, increasingly in recent years, in academic prestige. USC uses its growing donation base to hire professors and researchers from other top universities and colleges nationwide.

It also raised concerns about the ability of budget-pressed public universities to fend off raids from private colleges. Scientists across the country described the move as “big news” in neuroscience.