DUARTE, Calif. — City of Hope has received a $2 million gift from leading furniture wholesaler Samson Holding Ltd., Samuel Kuo and Grace Liu to advance surgical oncologist Yuman Fong, M.D.’s pioneering liver cancer research. With more than 700,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year, the family’s investment will accelerate novel treatments and surgical innovation to improve the lives of people around the world.
“We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary gift from Samuel Kuo, Grace Liu and Samson,” said Robert Stone, president and chief executive officer at City of Hope. “It demonstrates their commitment to accelerating cures for liver cancer, as well as their confidence in City of Hope’s delivery of the next generation of cures and care.”
Samson Holding, Samuel Kuo and Grace Liu have supported City of Hope for nearly 20 years. In 2018, the couple received The Spirit of Life® Award for their personal, professional and philanthropic achievements.
“Samson Holding is proud to make this gift on behalf of our employees, friends and family,” Kuo said. “We have every confidence in our partnership with City of Hope and in Dr. Fong’s ability to make a difference for those confronted with this terrible disease.”
Leading to more than 600,000 deaths each year, liver cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men globally, and the sixth-leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. Incidence rates of liver cancer are especially high in the Southeast Asia region as well as in parts of Africa.
Yuman Fong, M.D., The Sangiacomo Family Chair in Surgical Oncology and director of the Center for International Medicine at City of Hope, is leading a team focused on a suite of liver cancer studies with the aim of transforming how liver cancer is treated, including efforts to employ genetically modified viruses to destroy cancer cells. He is widely recognized as an expert in cancer of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts, as well as in robotic surgery.
“City of Hope is in a unique position right now. Our doctors and researchers are on the forefront of changing the way liver cancer is treated worldwide,” Fong said. “Samuel and Grace believe in the promising work being accomplished in my lab. There has never been a more exciting time to invest in potential new discoveries, and we are incredibly grateful that Samson has continued to support City of Hope so generously.”
Fong leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers and physicians pursuing novel strategies to improve treatment for patients with advanced or recurrent liver cancer. Under his guidance, researchers are evaluating new methods of killing cancer such as gene therapies that stop liver cancer cells from replicating or that target the blood vessels which nourish liver tumors.
Highly collaborative in his approach to drug development and innovation, Fong is also partnering with experts across City of Hope’s campus to design chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells that target “alpha fetoprotein,” a highly expressed protein in liver cancer. His goal is to create a combination treatment that unites a virus with checkpoint inhibitors to prevent cancer cells from proliferating. Additionally, Fong is determined to make certain liver cancer surgeries an outpatient procedure, reducing the length of hospital stays and returning patients to their families and lives more quickly.
Funding from the Kuo family will significantly accelerate Fong’s research and enable his teams to pursue multiple avenues of research simultaneously and deliver cures more quickly.
“Samuel and Grace are remarkable business people whose daring and strategic investments have contributed to Samson’s more than two decades of growth and success,” said Kristin Bertell, chief philanthropy officer at City of Hope. “They reflect City of Hope’s values of innovation and bold risk-taking in all that they do. They are also incredibly compassionate and generous people. We couldn’t be more proud to partner with them.”
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hope’s translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope is ranked one of America's "Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
About Samson Holding Ltd. (“Samson”)
Samson is one of the world’s leading furniture wholesalers and manufacturers for major retailers and brands around the world. With a mission to continue to build a sustainable business by manufacturing and marketing premium furniture for better living so that long-term values can be created for both their customers and shareholders. And a vision to become a global leader in the furniture industry supported by their success in meeting customers’ needs to deliver top quality furniture at affordable prices and caring customer service.