$1.5M gift from The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation creates professorship at City of Hope

July 14, 2015
Chief of Head and Neck Surgery, Ellie Maghami, M.D., selected as first recipient

A $1.5 million gift from The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation will establish an endowed professorship within the head and neck program at City of Hope. The professorship will be used to advance research, education and clinical activities in support of head and neck cancer treatment.

The first professorship will be awarded to Ellie Maghami, M.D., F.A.C.S., chief of head and neck surgery at City of Hope. The professorship recognizes the significant contributions Maghami has made in developing an outstanding clinical surgery program at City of Hope, and provides a foundation for her future research and treatment advances.

As the holder of The Norman and Sadie Lee Professorship in Head and Neck Cancer, Maghami will continue to collaborate closely with scientists and clinicians at City of Hope and elsewhere to conduct research into the underlying causes of head and neck cancer. She will also further develop promising experimental therapies, with an emphasis on molecular targets to make head and neck cancers more sensitive to therapy.

“Dr. Maghami is a nationally recognized expert in all areas of head and neck cancer, and we are pleased to be able to support her work to improve the treatment options, and change the future, for people with head and neck cancer,” said Paul A. James, president and director of The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation.
Well-known philanthropists Norman and Sadie Lee were longtime supporters of City of Hope, with Norman Lee serving on the institution’s board of directors from 1985 to 1987. The couple also were instrumental in the visit by the Queen of England to the City of Hope campus in 1983 for the official dedication of the Sadie and Norman Lee British Pediatric Research Center on the Duarte campus.

“City of Hope is extremely grateful that The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation has chosen to extend the Lees’ legacy of philanthropic support for City of Hope,” said Robert W. Stone, president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. “This generous gift will enable us to improve the health, well-being and survival of head and neck cancer patients around the world.”

That commitment to helping as many people as possible was central to the Lees’ philanthropic legacy and led them to support a variety of pre-eminent institutions and causes emphasizing biomedical research and its potential to transform the future.

“We are proud to further the legacy of Norman and Sadie Lee in their determination to shape the future for the better,” said Bryan Isaacs, director of The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation. “Dr. Maghami’s already remarkable accomplishments in the treatment and research of head and neck cancer ensure that the Lees’ wishes will be fulfilled.”

Maghami has already developed a retroviral gene therapy targeting a novel cancer gene that is overactive in nearly half of head and neck cancers of the mucous membranes, and her current research using molecular targets is intended to develop more effective treatments for head and neck tumors.

“The Norman and Sadie Lee professorship is a tremendous honor, and I’m both proud and humbled by the confidence of the foundation in making this commitment,” Maghami said.

A graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Maghami completed a residency in otolaryngology at UCLA and a fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She has authored more than 21 peer-reviewed publications and has won numerous awards, including the 2004 ASCO Young Investigator Award. She is councilor-at-large for the American Head and Neck Society and also serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Committee on Head and Neck Cancer.
Tami Dennis
About The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation
Established in 1978, The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation supports organizations focused on medical research and services, culture and the arts, and education. The foundation is named in honor of the late Norman and Sadie Lee, Los Angeles philanthropists. Norman Lee was a member of the City of Hope board of directors and board of trustees.
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics in southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.