Six of City of Hope’s most recognized and accomplished researchers were inducted into the institution’s Scientific Research Portrait Gallery on Oct. 19 in a ceremony melding reverence, jubilation and institutional pride.
|Stephen Forman (All photos by Walter Urie)|
The event in Cooper Auditorium acknowledged Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Marcia Grant, R.N., D.N.Sc., Theodore G. Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D., John J. Rossi, Ph.D., and John A. Zaia, M.D. The researchers were honored with photographic portraits that will be added to those of 14 prominent City of Hope research leaders already displayed in the auditorium.
Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president, chief executive officer and Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Chair, thanked each of the researchers for “the incomparable contributions they have made not just to our organization, but to knowledge and to humankind.”
About 200 City of Hope faculty and staff members, as well as members of the inductees’ families, cheered their approval for each of the six honorees:
|Marcia Grant |
• Forman, the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and professor and chair of the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT), joined City of Hope in 1978. A world-renowned leader and pioneer in HCT and hematologic oncology research, Forman is credited with growing the HCT scientific and clinical research program to international prominence.
• Grant, professor and director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education, helped launch the nursing research program in the late 1970s and established nursing research as a discipline recognized nationwide for its impact on patient care. She conducts a nationally-recognized program on research in quality-of-life issues in oncology. She is the first woman honored in the gallery.
• Krontiris, professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine and director emeritus of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, co-discovered the activation of the RAS family of genes, which contribute to several cancers, and conducted some of the first large studies of the genetic causes behind cancer. He has served as executive vice president of medical and scientific affairs and directed the comprehensive cancer center, twice leading the institution’s successful cancer center grant renewals.
• Pfeifer, the Lester M. and Irene C. Finkelstein Chair in Biology and professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, published the first direct molecular evidence that cigarettes cause lung cancer in 1996, opening the door to subsequent successful legal actions against tobacco companies. Pfeifer has profoundly influenced efforts to understand how disease-causing genetic mutations form, as well as the role of epigenetics in cancer.
• Rossi, the Lidow Family Research Chair, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean’s Chair and professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is internationally known for his studies of ribonucleic acids (RNAs), including ribozymes and small interfering RNAs, commonly called siRNAs. His seminal research led to first-ever gene therapy studies using these RNAs to combat HIV infection, including the first clinical trial of the technique.
• Zaia, the Aaron D. and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy and professor and chair of the Department of Virology, has contributed significantly to clinical research programs and currently safeguards clinical trials standards as the organization’s institutional official. Zaia launched groundbreaking gene therapy studies aimed at giving HIV/AIDS patients lasting resistance to the virus. He also helped develop more effective methods for controlling cytomegalovirus, which can threaten the lives of patients with compromised immune systems.
Each inductee spoke briefly at the ceremony to express appreciation to colleagues.
“I come to work every day, grateful to work with talented and committed physicians, scientists and nurses at City of Hope, and I think much of what we accomplish is based on being surrounded by such wonderful people,” said Forman. “I’m also very humbled to be chosen to be honored today and to share the moment with my friends and colleagues from whom I continue to learn.”
The event was the first of several inductions over the next three years leading up to City of Hope’s centennial in 2013.