City of Hope donors and local elected officials joined City of Hope leadership, faculty and staff members to dedicate the Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center Expansion building on March 15. Officials marked the event as a symbol of City of Hope’s growing commitment to diabetes research.
|Leslie Gonda, seated, along with members of his family, administrators, faculty and staff members and supporters, dedicated the new research building that bears his name. (Photo by AmyCantrell.com)|
The four-story, 41,000-square-foot structure will double research space and host teams of researchers investigating the origins of and treatments for type 1 and 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases and the increasingly evident connections between cancer and diabetes.
Numerous individuals gathered for the ribbon-cutting festivities including Leslie Gonda and his children, Louis, Lucy and Lorena, longtime City of Hope volunteer and supporter Lillian Zacky and President and Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Friedman, M.D., who hosted the event.
“For more than four decades, City of Hope scientists and physicians have made important contributions to the field of diabetes care and research,” Friedman said. “With the opening of the Gonda Center Expansion today, we formally begin the next era of City of Hope’s contributions to the field of diabetes. This milestone event reflects our increasing commitment to advancing our understanding of diabetes and its associated complications.”
City of Hope researchers have made seminal biomedical research discoveries that have transformed the treatment of diabetes. In the 1940s, the late Rachmiel Levine, M.D., first identified the role of human insulin in glucose metabolism. Two decades later, Samuel Rahbar, M.D., Ph.D., discovered that hemoglobin A1c could serve as a marker for controlling blood glucose in patients with diabetes. In 1978, Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., genetically engineered bacteria through a technology known as recombinant DNA. This technology led to the development of synthetic human insulin and human growth hormone. Today, City of Hope is a leader in islet cell transplantation, an investigational procedure for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
The expansion will support cross-disciplinary research, including studies that explore the links between cancer and diabetes. Some research teams will focus on islet cell transplantation, while other teams will explore the molecular roots of disease to develop drugs targeting molecules associated with diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
|The Gonda Center Expansion bolsters diabetes research at City of Hope. (Photo by Walter Urie)|
This research could uncover the genetic causes of type 2 diabetes and produce new therapies that target the mechanisms responsible for metabolic disease.
The building’s innovative design aims to promote collaboration. Its modular laboratories can easily be reconfigured, enabling fast, cost-efficient adaptation to meet the evolving research needs of scientists.
Laboratories pursuing similar studies are located near one another, and the new facility connects with the original Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center building, enabling researchers from different disciplines to interact more easily.
The first floor houses the laboratory of Fouad R. Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, and fellow researchers working on islet cell transplantation. The second floor will house the laboratories of Wendong Huang, Ph.D., and Janice Huss, Ph.D., both assistant professors in the Division of Gene Regulation and Drug Discovery, and Hsun “Teresa” Ku, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research.
Before inviting event attendees to tour the building, Friedman singled out a longtime partner of City of Hope.
“I would like to acknowledge one of the pioneers in diabetes research and one of City of Hope’s most dedicated and accomplished faculty members: Art Riggs, director emeritus of Beckman Research Institute,” Friedman said. “For decades, Art has brought his passion, intellect and vision to advancing basic science at City of Hope and has been a key architect in the many seminal discoveries that have originated here — included synthetic human insulin. Not only has his work revolutionized diabetes care, it has truly changed the lives of millions of people across the globe.”