06/22/2011 06:00:00

$6 Million Gift To Spur Innovative Research Collaborations Between Caltech, City of Hope

PASADENA, Calif.—As part of a program to foster innovative biomedical research projects, an anonymous donor has pledged $3 million each to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and City of Hope to strengthen scientific collaborations between the two leading research institutions.

The gifts to Caltech and City of Hope will build upon support for research projects featuring partnerships between Caltech and City of Hope investigators. They will carry forward a program of collaborations between the two institutions that began in 2008 and has since helped start several promising projects in cancer, AIDS, and diabetes research.

“By combining the intellect, creativity, and passion of researchers from both of our institutions, we hope to accelerate the speed at which potentially game-changing discoveries in medical science are moved from the laboratory to patient care,” says Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau. “Private support is absolutely critical to achieving this goal, so we greatly appreciate this generous gift.”

The biomedical initiative is meant to support those original, interdisciplinary, early-stage translational medical research projects that do not yet qualify for traditional sources of funding. Translational medicine is also known as bench-to-bedside research, in which basic science discoveries are developed into new therapies or treatments. Through the Caltech–City of Hope program, investigators will be able to leverage their unique strengths by working together. Eventually, these projects could lead to a clinical-trial phase with patients, which could then lead to new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or other treatments.

“When we effectively apply the strengths of both City of Hope and Caltech to scientific research, we can more easily leverage groundbreaking discovery into the development of improved therapies for people facing serious illness such as cancer, HIV or diabetes,” says Michael A. Friedman, president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. “We are very grateful for the generosity of donors who support our combined efforts to help patients everywhere.”

Some of the Caltech–City of Hope projects that have already received seed funding include the investigation of a chemical compound that has been unexpectedly effective in reducing breast cancer tumors, the study of a gene that plays a role in tumor suppression, and a novel method of selectively killing HIV-infected cells using synthetic RNA molecules.

The gifts to the two institutions also provide support for an annual public event. The most recent event was held May 17 at Caltech. It featured presentations by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, president emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech; and John A. Zaia, the Aaron D. and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy; Chair and Professor of Virology; and Deputy Director for Clinical Research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at City of Hope.

As part of the pledge, Caltech and City of Hope have been challenged to raise an additional $3 million each toward their collaboration. The Caltech challenge is eligible for the Gordon and Betty Moore Matching Program, which, for a limited time, will contribute $1 for every $2 raised by Caltech.

Caltech has an extensive history of discovery in the biological sciences, and its faculty and alumni have won nine Nobel Prizes in medically related fields. City of Hope is a leading research, treatment, and education center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.

Written by Michael Rogers