October 28, 2014 | by Tami Dennis
Cancers of the blood and immune system are considered to be among the most difficult-to-treat cancers. A world leader in the treatment of blood cancers, City of Hope is now launching an institute specifically focused on treating people with lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma, as well as other serious blood and bone marrow diseases.
Through this institute, laboratory and physician investigators will expand their work and develop new therapies and possible cures for leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. The Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope is built upon a foundation that was created by City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, and the leader of the institution’s Hematologic Malignancies Program, and Steven T. Rosen, M.D., the provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope.
Both are known worldwide for the vision, discipline and compassion with which they approach some of the most complex and difficult diseases that afflict men, women and children. Both are committed to continuing to make scientific breakthroughs while caring for patients in the uniquely patient-centered environment for which City of Hope is known.
“Over the years we have seen the development of therapies that, had we known then what we know now, could have saved more lives. The institute will create a collaborative culture of research and individualized care that will accelerate our research breakthroughs for the patients and families who come to us for help,” Forman said.
The institute will be composed of six cornerstone centers. Three will be committed to conducting research that will lead to improved treatments for, respectively, lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia. A fourth will be focused on T cell immunotherapy, with its potential to harness the power of the immune system to treat cancer. A fifth will be on stem cell transplantation, building on the international reputation of City of Hope as one of the leading transplant programs in the world for curing people who have cancers of the blood and immune system. A sixth will be dedicated to gene therapy.
Two of the centers have already been named: The Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, named by Emmet and Toni Stephenson and their daughter, Tessa Stephenson Brand, and the Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research, named by the Gehr Family Foundation, including Norbert Gehr and his children, Crystal Gehr, Robert Gehr, Max Gehr and Andrew Gehr.
“City of Hope has already developed a number of new treatment approaches that are now followed by cancer specialists worldwide,” Rosen said. “We are known for being the only center to achieve superior survival outcomes for our transplant patients for nine consecutive years. With the institute, we will be able to do even more for those patients.”
Institute attracts bold scientists and visionary leaders
The move to institute status has already led to the recruitment of several internationally recognized clinical and scientific leaders to City of Hope, including:
New clinical trials now underway
The institute is currently launching several T cell immunotherapy clinical trials for treatment of leukemia and lymphoma, with others being developed for myeloma and novel transplant studies to improve the cure rate for people who need this therapy.
“The institute’s launch is a reflection of City of Hope’s commitment to research and care that changes lives, and the choice of Dr. Forman to lead the institute is a reflection of his remarkable contributions to the field of hematologic malignancies,” said City of Hope’s president and CEO, Robert W. Stone.
“At City of Hope we sincerely believe we have an obligation to transform the lives of as many people as possible. This institute, supported by the generosity and commitment of donors like the Gehr family and Emmet and Toni Stephenson, and their daughter, Tessa Stephenson Brand, will give us the ability to do just that.”
Read an interview with Jasmine Zain, M.D., in which she explains the impact of research, better treatment options and collaboration in the treatment of cutaneous T cell lymphoma.