by Kathleen O’Neil
City of Hope will use $3 million in gifts from Eric Lidow and the Lidow Foundation to establish an endowed chair in the Division of Molecular Biology. John Rossi, Ph.D., chair and professor of molecular biology and dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, has been named the first holder of the Lidow Family Research Chair.
These generous gifts highlight the way donors like the Lidow family help shape the future of research and discovery at City of Hope,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. “John Rossi’s vision and commitment to scientific excellence have served as an example to researchers worldwide and to his colleagues at City of Hope. We are pleased that his leadership will be honored and look forward to his future scientific achievements as the first holder of the Lidow Family Research Chair.”
Rossi is a world-renowned expert in the therapeutic application of short pieces of genetic material called small interfering RNAs that trigger destruction of harmful RNA messages. He is currently participating in a pilot study that would be the first human trial to use small interfering RNAs in human hematopoietic stem cell-based gene therapy to treat patients with both lymphoma and HIV.
Rossi’s research interests include the use of modified genetic material to fight viruses and cancer. He led the research team that helped create ribozymes, another type of RNA that can be used to interfere with growth and replication of HIV and chronic myelogenous leukemia.
In 1993, City of Hope bestowed its highest honor upon Rossi, naming him to its Gallery of Medical and Scientific Achievement for his pioneering molecular work in HIV/AIDS. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also recognized him with a 2002 Merit Award for his work in the field.
“We are pleased to support outstanding research and make a meaningful contribution to fighting serious diseases,” said Eric Lidow. “We hope this gift will support City of Hope in continuing its track record of research accomplishments.”
Lidow and his father, Leon, founded International Rectifier (IR), a semiconductor design and manufacturing company based in El Segundo, Calif., in 1947. The publicly traded company now employs 5,800 people worldwide and posts more than $1 billion in annual revenue. IR’s power chips and electrical subsystems are applied to make laptop computers run longer and vehicles more efficient, among other uses. In 2006, Eric Lidow received an Elektra Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his profound and lasting impact on the electronics industry.
The Lidow Foundation was established in 1957 to support services for the elderly, Jewish organizations, medical research and the arts.
Eric Lidow serves as president of the foundation, and his wife, Elizabeth, and sons Alan, Alexander and Derek, serve as officers or directors of the foundation.