City of Hope has received $20 million from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to establish an innovative research center focusing on immunotherapy – a treatment that uses the immune system to fight cancer and other diseases. The naming gift establishes the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, a modern, 108,000-square-foot facility blending basic science with clinical studies.
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation gift accelerates City of Hope’s efforts to create a building that will house basic scientists focused on tumor immunology as well as translational researchers who turn scientific discoveries into diagnostic tools and treatments for patients. The dramatic, curving structure will rise five stories from the heart of the campus and is expected to cost $60 million. Groundbreaking is slated for early 2007.
Long a proponent of innovation, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is pushing for progress and continuing its longstanding commitment to scientific discovery and partnership with City of Hope. In 1983, the foundation invested $10 million to establish and endow Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope – the first of five such institutes nationwide. Its annual gifts have supported the continued growth of the institute.
“This generous and visionary gift will help enable major advances in the development of new and improved therapies for patients with cancer,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer, City of Hope. “The creation of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology demonstrates commitment by both the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and City of Hope to play a key role in an emerging field that holds great promise for patients facing life-threatening diseases.”
“The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is pleased to be able to continue our support of City of Hope and the new Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology,” stated Ambassador George L. Argyros, chairman of the Board of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. “The center will dramatically expand the scope of immunotherapy and translational research at City of Hope and will provide a framework for expanding government and private research support.
City of Hope continues to better mankind through its translational scientific research. Identified by Dr. Arnold O. Beckman in the early 1980s as one of the nation’s leading scientific research institutions, I am confident that he and Mrs. Beckman would be proud to recognize City of Hope with this gift.”
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center will provide laboratory space and resources for scientists in the recently formed Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology, or CITI. The new center’s prime location – across from City of Hope’s newly opened Helford Clinical Research Hospital at City of Hope – will help investigators quickly move discoveries from the lab to patients.
“We are pleased that the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is continuing its longstanding commitment to scientific discovery at City of Hope,” said Andrew Raubitschek, M.D., CITI chair. “This new facility will strengthen our basic science efforts in areas such as tumor immunology, while speeding the outstanding work of our scientists directly to the hands of physicians to benefit patients more quickly than ever before.”
Arthur D. Riggs, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute, said, “The generosity and vision of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in deciding to support this work is gratifying. This research building will provide the model for the fusion of basic research with transitional research and the preparation of biologicals for clinical trials.”
The wide array of disciplines represented at the center – from molecular biology to hematology –will promote collaboration and innovation. CITI researchers will bring together their expertise to focus on four key investigational areas: radioimmunotherapy, molecular immunotherapy, cellular immunotherapy and vaccine immunotherapy.
In radioimmunotherapy, physicians use genetically engineered monoclonal antibodies to carry radioactive isotopes directly to cancerous cells. Antibodies are proteins that seek out specific foreign invaders, such as bacteria, and help destroy them. The body creates its own antibodies, but scientists also can create special antibodies – called monoclonal antibodies – in a lab. These monoclonal antibodies, which are injected into patients and recognize a unique marker found on tumor cells, were developed using methodology created by Riggs at City of Hope.
Researchers studying molecular immunotherapy aim to take monoclonal antibodies a step further. They create designer proteins that fuse two key molecules: One is an antibody that seeks out tumors, and the other is a protein that further triggers the immune system to attack the tumors.
Cellular immunotherapy, meanwhile, encompasses the use of a patient’s own immune cells - cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to seek out and destroy cancers. City of Hope researchers were the first to conduct federally authorized clinical trials with reprogrammed T-cells against lymphoma, neuroblastoma and glioma.
Finally, through vaccine immunotherapy, City of Hope researchers try to rev up the body’s immune system to fight malignancies such as breast, prostate, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Within the center’s expansive space and clean, modern facade, scientists will put their expertise and creativity to work. The researchers will brainstorm, devise and develop new treatment ideas in so-called discovery labs, as well as refine their ideas for preclinical testing, manufacture biologic agents, manage clinical trials and scientifically evaluate those trials. The first floor will house the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, as well as conference and dining facilities for scientific staff.
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s $20 million gift hastens City of Hope’s push to raise funds for the new center. In making their gift, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation leaders pledged $15 million to match a $15 million gift already made by another donor who chose to remain anonymous, and an additional $5 million to spur additional gifts. Other recent support for the facility includes a bequest of $2 million from longtime supporter Norma Connick and a bequest of $1.5 million from longstanding backer Marcelle S. Schwartz.
The center will be designed by Ralph E. Johnson, a highly respected architect of science and technology buildings and leader of the architectural firm Perkins + Will, which created structures such as the Anschutz Cancer Center in Colorado and the Pearlman Cancer Center in Georgia, as well as the anticipated federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. City of Hope also has retained the laboratory planning services of GPR Planners Collaborative Inc. and program management services by Jensen + Partners; both companies are highly experienced with research and health care projects.