City of Hope presented the first HIV/AIDS Desert Community Forum
On December 4, 2008, an audience of about 150 gathered at the first City of Hope HIV/AIDS Desert Community Forum held at Palm Springs’ Hotel Zoso. John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, was the featured speaker. He was joined by patient speaker Loring Leeds, who originally sought treatment for AIDS-related lymphoma at City of Hope 10 years ago, and by another HIV-positive patient who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant.
Rossi, dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, leads innovative studies of therapies that have the potential to cure HIV and AIDS. He and his colleagues harness the power of ribozymes — small genetic structures characterized as “molecular scissors” — to attack HIV. The gene therapy is delivered to patients through engineered stem cells in hematopoietic cell transplantation.
The forum was co-sponsored by Hotel Zoso and promoted by leaders of Palm Springs’ gay and lesbian community. The evening’s host was Brian Wanzek, a well-known cabaret performer in Palm Springs.