City of Hope has received a $5 million gift from Orly and Shmuel Cabilly, Ph.D., to support the new Cabilly-Riggs Academic Center.
The gift will be used to centralize the Graduate School of Biological Sciences. The new Cabilly-Riggs Academic Center will include dedicated space for teaching laboratories, classrooms and administrative offices, as well as a 150-seat auditorium for scientific seminars.
The center will be housed within the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, which is under construction. The center is named for Shmuel Cabilly and Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., director emeritus of Beckman Research Institute.
In 1981, Riggs and Cabilly, then a postdoctoral fellow in Riggs’ laboratory at City of Hope, collaborated with scientists at Genentech on a novel method of making antibodies through recombinant DNA technology, the process in which scientists “edit” DNA to form DNA sequences that do not appear in nature. That work led to patents on the production of novel antibodies and the development of significant cancer-fighting treatments including the drugs Herceptin, Rituxan and Avastin.
Cabilly is the first-named inventor of the Cabilly patent, the basis for numerous widely used drugs produced by the biotechnology industry. His wife, Orly, worked as a research technician in the laboratory of John Rossi, Ph.D., now Lidow Family Research Chair and dean of the graduate school.
“This gift continues the longstanding and collaborative relationship between Dr. Cabilly and City of Hope, which has enabled scientific advances that have significantly improved the lives of patients with life-threatening diseases,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer.
The couple has a rich history with City of Hope. “This gift represents our belief in the impact of City of Hope’s research and education programs,” Shmuel Cabilly said. “We believe strongly in giving researchers the freedom and resources to explore new scientific avenues, and to pursue innovative ideas to fight life-threatening diseases.”
Riggs, a researcher at City of Hope for more than 30 years, has developed techniques that have led to effective therapies for diabetes, cancer and other diseases. His work on products like synthetic human insulin helped develop a process for the large-scale manufacturing of protein drugs, which was a necessary foundation for the growth of an emerging biotechnology industry.
“Dr. Cabilly was trained in immunology. I have a long-standing interest in immunology, so it is most appropriate that the Cabilly-Riggs Academic Center is the ground floor of the new Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, which is largely devoted to research in immunology,” said Riggs. “This gift from the Cabilly family will support an array of new initiatives to improve human welfare through scientific advances while offering a robust learning environment for future generations of scientists.”
Noted Rossi: “This generous gift will have a long-lasting impact on our graduate school and the educational experience of our students by enhancing our ability to integrate clinical and academic programs.”
The Cabilly-Riggs Academic Center is slated to open in 2009.