LOS ANGELES — City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a leading research center for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses, today announced that its Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine received a $4.9 million grant to train the next generation of scientific leaders in basic stem cell research and its translation into novel, lifesaving treatments.
The award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) contributes to the more than $121 million in grants that Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope has received from CIRM to date, indicating the state-funded agency’s confidence in City of Hope’s long-standing leadership in stem cell-related therapies. As a biomedical institution, City of Hope has deep expertise in developmental and stem cell biology, resulting in strong clinical programs in bone marrow transplantation, cancer immunotherapy, gene therapy to correct genetic defects, and cell replacement and tissue regeneration strategies to treat diabetes.
“Our mission is to train predoctoral and postdoctoral CIRM scholars in basic stem cell and developmental biology, and the translation of this foundational knowledge into novel and effective therapies for patients with cancers, degenerative diseases, genetically caused conditions and other maladies,” said Michael Barish, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and program director of the CIRM-funded educational project.
The five-year grant will be used to mentor junior scientists with the help of City of Hope’s Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at Beckman Research Institute. The program will leverage City of Hope’s position as one of the few cancer centers in the United States with on-campus good manufacturing practice facilities capable of creating clinical-grade biologics and small molecules. Lastly, students will benefit from the fact that their classrooms and laboratories are within walking distance from where patients receive compassionate patient care.
City of Hope has an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to translating fundamental research findings into clinical practice for patients’ benefit. In addition to laboratory research, the CIRM scholars will learn how to implement cell-based therapies, engineer and manufacture cells, obtain regulatory approval and commercialize biomedical products. Instruction will come from scientific and clinical faculty, research nurses and experts in the ethics of stem cell research and its application to medicine.
Due to the program’s proximity to patient care areas, students will also have the unique opportunity to receive mentorship from both City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine and Division of Health Equities, where they will be exposed to experts in patient engagement and community outreach programs.
“This program originates from City of Hope’s longstanding expertise in conducting clinical trials and applying fundamental stem cell biology and gene therapy to the treatment of diseases. The program reflects City of Hope’s commitment to ensuring that future scientific leaders understand the varied needs of diverse patient populations, and the inequities that presently affect both biomedical research and the development of and access to innovative therapies,” said Nadia Carlesso, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and co-investigator of the CIRM project.
Other leaders in this CIRM-funded stem cell and regenerative medicine training program include City of Hope’s Yanhong Shi, Ph.D., Herbert Horvitz Professor in Neuroscience, Rick Kittles, Ph.D., M.S., professor and director of the Division of Health Equities, and Keely Walker, Ph.D., director of the Office of Faculty and Institutional Support.
The new program is one element of City of Hope’s broad commitment to education, including the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at Beckman Research Institute, which offers doctoral programs in biological sciences and translational medicine, as well as master’s programs in regulatory affairs and translational medicine. City of Hope also supports a portfolio of National Cancer Institute-supported training programs in cancer metabolism, DNA damage and pathways to cancer, as well as training programs for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds (supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases).
# # #
About City of Hope
City of Hope’s mission is to deliver the cures of tomorrow to the people who need them today. Founded in 1913, City of Hope has grown into one the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S. and one of the leading research centers for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. As an independent, National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, City of Hope brings a uniquely integrated model to patients spanning cancer care, research and development, academics and training, and innovation initiatives. Research and technology developed at City of Hope has been the basis for numerous breakthrough cancer medicines, as well as human synthetic insulin and monoclonal antibodies. A leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy, such as CAR T cell therapy, City of Hope’s personalized treatment protocols help advance cancer care throughout the world.
With a goal of expanding access to the latest discoveries and leading-edge care to more patients, families and communities, City of Hope’s growing national system includes its main Los Angeles campus, a network of clinical care locations across Southern California, a new cancer center in Orange County, California, scheduled to open in 2022, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. City of Hope’s affiliated family of organizations includes Translational Genomics Research Institute and AccessHopeTM. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.