A $2.5 million gift from Morgan and Helen Chu will establish the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean’s Chair for the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope. John J. Rossi, Ph.D., dean of the graduate school, will be the first holder of the chair.
The gift was announced June 11 during the graduate school’s commencement.
|Helen and Morgan Chu (Photo by Walter Urie Photography)|
It is the latest in a series of generous contributions from the Chus and the Los Angeles-based law firm of Irella & Manella LLP, where Morgan Chu is a partner. Recent gifts include a $3 million gift from the firm to endow the cancer center director’s chair, a $5 million gift (matched by an additional $5 million) endowing and naming City of Hope’s graduate school, a $2 million gift to create a visiting professorship and a $2.5 million contribution from Morgan and Helen Chu to endow the directorship of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope.
Morgan Chu, J.D., Ph.D., is considered one of the most accomplished trial attorneys in the nation and a pioneer in the areas of technology and intellectual property law. The National Law Journal recently named him one of the 40 “Most Influential Lawyers of the Decade” in all areas of practice. He and his wife are longtime supporters of City of Hope.
“Morgan and Helen Chu’s contribution to our graduate school further guarantees the distinction of our institution and supports our efforts to guide our students to become the next generation of scientific pioneers. We are most grateful for their foresight and generosity,” said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., City of Hope president, chief executive officer and director of the comprehensive cancer center.
Chu joined Irell & Manella as an associate in 1977, became a partner in 1982 and has been a member of its governing board since 1985. He has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law and is a member of the Harvard University Board of Overseers.
“Graduate students are among the great assets of science. Helen and I are honored to support City of Hope’s graduate school and to support future researchers who will advance the institution’s tradition of scientific inquiry and excellence,” said Chu.
Rossi, who holds the Lidow Family Research Chair in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is an expert in the therapeutic application of small interfering RNAs, short pieces of genetic material that trigger destruction of harmful RNA messages. He is currently participating in a pilot study of what will 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.
His research interests include the use of modified genetic material to fight viruses and cancer. He led the research team that helped create synthetic ribozymes, another type of RNA that can be used to interfere with growth and replication of HIV.
City of Hope bestowed its highest honor upon Rossi in 1993, naming him to its Gallery of Medical and Scientific Achievement for his pioneering research on HIV/AIDS. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also recognized him with a 2002 Merit Award.
“Dr. Rossi is an outstanding scholar who has provided unparalleled leadership of the graduate school,” Friedman said. “With this endowed chair, we recognize his commitment to academic excellence and training future generations of talented scientists.”