The UCLA Tarjan Center is situated within the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and most of our faculty members hold appointments within the David Geffen School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. The Semel Institute is a unique interdisciplinary research and education hub, fostering research in modern behavioral neuroscience, social policy, and culture.

Our strategic location within the Semel Institute facilitates collaboration and knowledge-sharing with cutting-edge clinical and specialized clinics, research programs, such as the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART), the NIH Autism Center for Excellence (ACE), Center for Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES), and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), as well as highly-ranked training programs in psychiatry and psychology across the lifespan. Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, our Director, also serves as the Program Director for ACE Dissemination, Outreach, and Education Core, and as the Director of the UCLA Autism and Neurodiverse Disability Pre-Doctoral Psychology Internship, establishing direct connections with these programs.

The Tarjan Center is designated as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) by the Association for Community Living/Association on Disabilities. We are organized around the five core functions outlined in the Developmental Disabilities Act, which include Interdisciplinary Pre-Service Preparation and Continuing Education, Community Services: Technical Assistance, Community Services: Model Services, Research, and Information Dissemination, all designed to address the diverse needs related to health (both mental and physical), postsecondary education, and employment.

Since the inception of the network of such centers in the 1960s, the Tarjan Center has played an essential role in serving our community. In 2001, our program was renamed to honor the late Dr. George Tarjan, a prominent UCLA Child Psychiatrist. Dr. Tarjan's legacy dates back to 1961 when he served as the Vice Chair of the inaugural Presidents’ Panel on Intellectual Disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), an initiative established by President John F. Kennedy.