In honor of Beckman Research Institute’s silver anniversary, Hope News begins a series of articles highlighting institute scientists and their discoveries.
|Arnold Beckman (third from right) and City of Hope executives and board members at beckman Research Institue's formal dedication on Jan. 30, 1984.|
The scientific buzz was palpable. It was 1983, and two young City of Hope investigators, Arthur D. Riggs, Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., had just published their research on synthesizing and cloning human genes — work that effectively launched the biotechnology industry.
Prominent City of Hope scientists Ernest Beutler, M.D., and Susumu Ohno, Ph.D., D.V.M., recently had been named to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and another, Rachmiel Levine, M.D., was soon to be elected. That cast of scientific luminaries and their historic discoveries came together to attract a transformational honor: a $10 million gift from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation that founded Beckman Research Institute.
As contemporaries noted, the accomplishments helped convince the foundation to fund the new institute — but they were, of themselves, a product of years of scientific excellence at City of Hope. The quality of inquiry was not lost on Arnold Beckman, one of the world’s top inventors of scientific instruments and a man renowned for his love of science.
“You have to understand this place had a phenomenal run of luck assembling a group of extraordinary biological scientists” as early as the 1950s, said Joseph Holden, Ph.D., emeritus senior scientist, who was assistant director of research at the time.
City of Hope investigators, including future Nobel nominees Eugene Roberts, Ph.D., and Alfred Knudson, M.D., Ph.D., attracted other talented researchers and grew the institution’s reputation, according to Holden.
“These people were the spark that ignited City of Hope as a nationally recognized institution,” he said.
Holden, an accomplished scientist in his own right, also noted the importance of enthusiastic support from non-scientists at City of Hope, led by Ben Horowitz, then president of the institution. They understood the need to support researchers and allow them as much freedom as possible to pursue their investigations, he said.
That philosophy underpinned the relationship between City of Hope and the foundation that Beckman created — a relationship that recently resulted in a $20 million gift to establish the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology.
“Looking back, the relationship between the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and City of Hope could not be more fitting,” commented Michael A. Friedman, M.D.,
City of Hope president and chief executive officer. “Dr. Beckman’s dedication to science matched ours perfectly. The original gift that established Beckman Research Institute demonstrated that, and this most recent award clearly affirms that continued shared commitment.”
As City of Hope reflects on the accomplishments of the past during this anniversary year, the institution maintains a clear focus on the opportunities of the future and the lives that could benefit from continued scientific study.
“Research in Beckman Research Institute is an inseparable part of the ‘Hope’ in City of Hope,” said Richard Jove, Ph.D., Beckman Research Institute director. “It’s clear that the cures of today came from the research of yesterday. It stands to reason that the cures of tomorrow will come from research done now.”
Steve Novak and Susan Yates contributed to this article.