City of Hope symposium honors work and legacy of Riojun Kinosita, M.D., Ph.D.

February 28, 2018
Letisia Marquez
[email protected]
The symposium on Wed., Feb. 28, honors Kinosita’s groundbreaking research on carcinogens and delves into new cancer research/treatment

DUARTE, Calif. – In honor of a pioneer in cancer research, a City of Hope symposium will focus on new research on the genetic and environmental factors that cause cancer on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the institution’s Argyros Auditorium from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

The special symposium on carcinogenesis honors Riojun Kinosita, M.D., Ph.D., one of the first researchers to identify carcinogens (cancer-causing substances); he also helped initiate cancer research at City of Hope. The symposium will include presentations by Japanese and American researchers who are leaders in cancer research and treatment, including Hitoshi Nakagama, M.D., D.M.Sc., president of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, Frank J. Gonzalez, Ph.D., and Curtis C. Harris, M.D., both of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and Koji Tamada, M.D., Ph.D., of Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine. The symposium will focus on such topics as how the environment shapes cancer genomes, precision medicine in lung cancer, the early origins of breast cancer and CAR T cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumors.

“City of Hope can think of no better way to honor the legacy of Dr. Kinosita than holding a symposium that reflects on his groundbreaking work with an eye toward the most promising cancer research and treatment of today,” said Yoko Fujita-Yamaguchi, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope, who organized the symposium with her colleagues Tim O’Connor, Ph.D., Binghui Shen, Ph.D. and John Termini, Ph.D.

Kinosita, the first leader of the then-newly formed City of Hope Cancer Research Institute in 1952, was the first scientist to report that butter yellow, a chemical used to color food, caused cancer in the liver of rats. In 1939, Kinosita was invited by the prestigious Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research to deliver a lecture titled “Studies on the carcinogenic compounds” at Yale University School of Medicine.

American newspapers covered Kinosita’s return visit to the U.S. in 1948 to present lectures about his cancer research. At the time, World War II had just ended and anti-Japanese sentiment was still strong. Despite those sentiments, Kinosita, president of the Japanese Cancer Society, was issued a visa to the U.S. to present his findings to cancer experts through a special arrangement made by the American Cancer Society.
In 1952, City of Hope and the UCLA medical school combined forces to launch a joint research effort at City of Hope’s Duarte, California, campus. Known as the Cancer Research Institute, the fledging operation quickly attracted progressive scientists such as Kinosita, who had worked at UCLA and came to City of Hope to lead research efforts.
Kinosita’s impact was immediate, according to Fujita-Yamaguchi. The small basic research unit that Kinosita helped start in 1952 has since grown and earned international renown. In 1983, it became the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute. Further growth in the basic research and clinical centers led to the designation of City of Hope as a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center in 1998.

“The important research by Kinosita that led to his founding cancer research at City of Hope had a major impact on understanding how cancer can arise and the development of treatments to combat the disease,” said Fujita-Yamaguchi, who has written a book about the history of Japanese-American scientists at City of Hope.
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 49 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 practice sites 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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