Representatives from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and City of Hope held a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 10 for a new center that will support research into the cancer-fighting potential of the immune system.
More than 150 faculty members, elected officials, board members and other dignitaries attended the event on the Duarte, Calif., campus, ushering in construction of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology.
The five-story, 108,000-square-foot facility will serve as headquarters for investigators in the Division of Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology, or CITI. These scientists study how cancerous tumors avoid the immune system and, in turn, how to harness the immune system against cancer. The center also will house the Graduate School of Biological Sciences.
“None of this would be possible without the generous and visionary gift from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the institution, who noted the construction symbolizes an “era of growth and expansion for City of Hope.”
The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation donated $20 million in 2006 as the lead gift in a campaign to establish the center. 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 — and the foundation’s annual gifts have supported the continued growth of the institute.
“I think the whole foundation is excited to be a part of this,” said Patricia Beckman, daughter of Arnold and Mabel Beckman. “I know I am.”
Ambassador George L. Argyros, chair of the board of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, also spoke at the groundbreaking, praising City of Hope’s ongoing research efforts. “I know that my dear friends Arnold and Mabel Beckman would feel that their money was well-spent,” Argyros said.
During the ceremony, outgoing City of Hope board chair Phil Engel announced that Argyros and his wife, Julia, have pledged additional funds for the facility through The Argyros Foundation.
City of Hope research leaders are enthusiastic about the science the gifts will support. Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute and professor of biology, noted that some of the research projects under way by CITI faculty may seem like science fiction — such as tweaking T-cells to attack cancer — but they are already in clinical studies. “The center will promote absolutely outstanding research, both basic research and clinical trials,” Riggs said.
Theodore Krontiris, Ph.D., director of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and executive vice president of medical and scientific affairs, said the center and CITI represent the institution’s three most important missions: discovering biological disease mechanisms, speeding treatments to clinical trials and patient care and fostering future scientists.