City of Hope awarded $2.5 million grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to launch nutrition initiative

March 31, 2016

Letisia Marquez
[email protected]

The grant aims to cut cancer risks by encouraging healthy eating and lifestyles

DUARTE, Calif. — Funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, City of Hope has launched a five-year initiative to reduce cancer risk in the Los Angeles area by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, particularly among school children. The long-range plan is to replicate the initiative’s successful strategies across Southern California and nationally.

The initiative aims to combat poor diets and obesity, two key risk factors for cancer. Approximately one-third of cancer deaths in the United States each year are linked to preventable causes such as excess body weight, poor nutrition and/or physical inactivity, according to the American Cancer Society. In coming years, cancer cases linked to obesity are expected to increase in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, where nearly 28 percent of children ages 2 to 11 are overweight and 23 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 are obese. Lung cancer was the fourth leading cause of death in the region in 2014.

“This generous grant will support vital collaborations to ensure underserved populations in Southern California will benefit from the latest cancer prevention research and strategies,” said City of Hope President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Stone. “By promoting improved health and well-being, the Hilton Foundation, City of Hope and our partners will help create scientific and medical approaches that will save lives in Southern California and beyond.”

“City of Hope deeply appreciates the Hilton Foundation’s investment in this important work,” Stone added.

Specifically, the initiative will focus on a number of community-based interventions:  

  • City of Hope will expand “Eat, Move, Live!” and K-12 outreach to local Duarte schools. Started in 2007 in Duarte, “Eat, Move, Live!” is a community-based nutrition and physical activity program that encourages physical activity and healthy eating among underserved programs, and will expand to Pomona and El Monte. It teaches families practical skills, such as reading food labels and preparing affordable, healthy meals. Program sessions also include such physical activities as dance and Zumba.
  • The institution will host two nutritional summits to raise awareness about the issue and share the initiative’s research.
  • City of Hope will partner with Seeds of Hope, a Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese program that turns unused land into productive gardens and orchards, to train 280 of its staff on the cancer institution’s “Hope Starts With Me.” The program educates participants on how the body processes food, how nutrition affects the pancreas, weight and health, and how to prepare healthy meals.
  • City of Hope also plans to open a 1,800-square-foot farm lab and teaching kitchen that will produce vegetables grown by community members and space for classes on healthy meal preparation. In addition, a City of Hope K-12 science education program – developed in partnership with the Duarte Unified School District and National Institutes of Health – will promote students’ interest in science and research careers with a focus on nutrition.

The initiative will also focus on research and policy. Two annual research grants will determine the best means to prevent cancer through dietary changes. Research will also be interwoven into the community projects funded by the grant, including collecting data on glucose levels in participants pre- and post-intervention.

In the area of policy, City of Hope will support school wellness policies and the adoption of city and/or state policy changes that promote healthy communities, especially around food policy and the environment.

“City of Hope’s ambitious initiative will bring together a diverse community of stakeholders to champion increased access to healthy foods and nutritional practices, and promote exercise,” said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., City of Hope’s provost and chief scientific officer, and the initiative’s principal investigator. “Making a few nutritional and lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on preventing cancer and other serious medical conditions.”

In addition, City of Hope will partner with Ludwig Cancer Research, an international community of distinguished scientists that also received a Hilton Foundation grant for colon cancer prevention. The two entities will work together to ensure minority populations use Ludwig Cancer Research’s findings on best practices for cancer prevention.

Over the five years, City of Hope anticipates reaching thousands of people directly through community programming and more people indirectly through research findings and policy changes.

The initiative’s co-principal investigators are Raynald Samoa, M.D., assistant professor of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism, and Victoria Seewaldt, M.D., professor and Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences. Kimlin Ashing, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education, and Susan Kane, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology, are co-investigators.

About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as one of only 45 comprehensive cancer centers, 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 world. City of Hope is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics throughout 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, diabetes and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs based on technology developed at the institution.

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About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. In 2015, the Humanitarian Prize was awarded to Landesa, a Seattle-based land rights organization. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.4 billion in grants, distributing $107 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2015. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.5 billion. For more information, please visit

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