Supporting Hope


City of Hope receives SCALE award to improve health of community

May 16, 2015 | by
Photo of Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa

City of Hope has been selected as a pacesetter community to join a national program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at accelerating the improvement of health and well-being. The City of Hope efforts are led by Kimlin Tam Ashing.

As public health experts know, health improvement starts in the community. Now, City of Hope  has been recognized for its efforts to improve the lives of residents of its own community.

The institution will receive funding from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement  to support promising community-based work on health improvement, as part of the SCALE (Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation) initiative. Made possible by a $4.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and led by IHI, Community Solutions, Communities Joined in Action and the Collaborative Health Network, SCALE will help communities further their ability to improve the health of targeted populations and develop ways to share and spread community-driven approaches across the country.

SCALE matches four “mentor communities” – those with a recent track record of achieving better health – with 20 “pacesetter communities” that are seeking to accelerate their pace of change.

City of Hope has been named a pacesetter community and will design and implement a multilevel plan to reduce chronic disease health inequities due to obesity and sedentary lifestyle, through community-based resources, supportive physical environments and businesses, policies for healthful eating and an emphasis on physical activity.

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Science festival will give kids an insider’s view of scientific research

May 13, 2015 | by

Take it from City of Hope researchers: Medical science isn’t just for scientists, but something the whole family can enjoy. From 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, the institution will offer a variety of educational and fun-filled science and healthy living activities at its second Community Science Festival.

Science Festival

Learn about science at City of Hope’s second Community Science Festival.

“We are very pleased to engage the local community to share how our researchers are leading the way in advancing knowledge about the causes and treatments for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases,” said Stephanie Neuvirth, chief human resources and diversity officer. “We will also offer valuable prevention and wellness information to our community members so they can be better equipped with tools to lead healthier lives.”

The free event, which is geared to the San Gabriel Valley’s sixth- through eighth-graders and their families, will feature hands-on science activities, educational lectures and demonstrations by scientists from City of Hope’s research facilities and laboratories.

Festival sessions will include:

Take Control of Your Health: Visitors will learn about the factors that can cause or contribute to disease, including genetics, lifestyle and environment. Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., and Jessica Clague DeHart, Ph.D., M.P.H., will help guests create a chart of their families’ medical traits and conditions, and explain how exercise and healthy foods, along with clean air and water, can reduce the risk of various diseases. » Continue Reading


UniHealth Foundation grant will help transform geriatric cancer care

May 9, 2015 | by
Photo of Arti Hurria

City of Hope researcher Arti Hurria was awarded a $733,951 grant from UniHealth Foundation to help transform geriatric cancer care.

Older adults, by far, represent the largest population of cancer patients globally. With the median age of U.S. citizens projected to increase sharply in the next few years, the incidence of cancer is expected to rise higher, as well. City of Hope is at the forefront of geriatric cancer care, and an important new grant will help transform how these older adult patients are treated.

Arti Hurria, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Cancer and Aging Research Program, garnered a $733,951 award from UniHealth Foundation. The grant is the largest ever obtained from the foundation by a City of Hope investigator.

Through previous research, Hurria and her team have developed a method to assess older adult patients’ risk of chemotherapy side effects and other complications. They will use the UniHealth Foundation award to integrate that assessment method into everyday care. In addition, they will establish a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals to rapidly address each patient’s needs, as indicated by the assessments.

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Bladder cancer patient has a mission: Cure metastatic bladder cancer

March 27, 2015 | by
Frank Di Bella, pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D., raised more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella (right), pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, has already helped raise more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella, 70, is on a mission: Find a cure for metastatic bladder cancer.

It’s just possible he might.

Although Di Bella isn’t a world-renowned physician, cancer researcher or scientist, he knows how to make things happen. For more than 20 years, he served as chairman of annual fundraising galas on behalf of muscular dystrophy research, and he’s successfully raised more than $10 million toward that cause.

Now his attention is focused on his own disease: metastatic bladder cancer. The certified public accountant recently held a black-tie gala titled “Let’s Be Frank about Cancer” to help raise funds for City of Hope’s bladder cancer research, led by Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D.

The gala was filled with distinguished leaders, such as Gov. Jerry Brown, and brought in more than $1.6 million for Pal’s research.

But for Di Bella, that’s just the start.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life raising money to help City of Hope and Dr. Pal,” Di Bella said.

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Garden of Hope: Here, healing takes place indoors and outdoors

January 30, 2015 | by

City of Hope has long known what researchers increasingly are confirming: Gardens and natural surroundings help seriously ill people recover from their treatment ordeals.

Garden of Hope

The Argyros Family Garden of Hope was made possible by the support of the Argyros Family Foundation, led by former U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros and his wife, Julia.

Already a trailblazer in the creation of beautiful natural spaces for cancer patients and their families, on Jan. 15,  City of Hope dedicated the newest in a series of healing landscapes: the Argyros Family Garden of Hope.

Supported by the Argyros Family Foundation – led by former U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros and his wife, Julia – the garden provides a natural space of light, water, trees and native plants designed to encourage emotional, mental and physical healing.

Strategically positioned between City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, where patients undergo treatment, and Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, where researchers work to find cures, the Argyros Family Garden of Hope provides patients with easily accessible places to walk and to rest – complete with new and mature trees, gurgling fountains and the soothing use of sand and rock – all artfully integrated into an intimate Southern California vignette. » Continue Reading


The profit: $17.35 from handmade bracelets. The donation: Priceless

January 8, 2015 | by
Aurora

Patient Gerald Rustad’s granddaughter Aurora helped raise funds for prostate cancer research by selling homemade bracelets.

Explaining a prostate cancer diagnosis to a young child can be difficult — especially when the cancer is incurable. But conveying the need for prostate cancer research, as it turns out, is easily done. And that leads to action.

Earlier this year, Gerald Rustad, 71, who is living with a very aggressive form of metastatic prostate cancer, found himself trying to explain his heath condition to 10-year-old granddaughter Aurora.

He told her that his cancer couldn’t be cured, but that scientists at City of Hope were busily conducting research so they could help patients like himself. His doctor, for example, Sumanta Pal, M.D., co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program, was working with other City of Hope researchers to develop a drug that could treat metastatic prostate cancer without targeting testosterone.

The targeting of testosterone is too arcane for most 10-year-olds, but the need for scientific answers isn’t. Aurora asked if there were any way she could help. » Continue Reading


Walk for Hope: Thousands come together to help cure women’s cancers

November 2, 2014 | by
Walk for Hope

Nearly 8,000 people walk to help end women’s cancers at the 18th annual Walk for Hope. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Thousands gathered at City of Hope on Sunday, Nov. 2, to participate in the 18th annual Walk for Hope, a unique event that raises money for, and awareness of, women’s cancers.

Together participants cheered, supported, honored and commemorated those who have been affected by breast and gynecologic cancers. With more than 600 survivors in attendance, the impact of City of Hope’s research and care was evident to all.

Walk for Hope is the only walk series that benefits research, treatment and education programs for all cancers unique to women, and all funds raised support City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program.

Most special about the walk is that it celebrates the collaboration between researchers, patients and the community to end women’s cancers. Further, it’s the only walk held on the grounds of an institution where the research occurs and where the care is delivered. Participants not only walked by buildings where the breakthroughs of tomorrow will be discovered, they walked by City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, waving to (and receiving waves from) patients watching from the windows.

“City of Hope’s specialized treatment of cancer, greater understanding of the causes of cancer and the research into survivorship after cancer have all been made possible by your support,” said Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer at City of Hope,  addressing the crowd. “You help us with our research, and our research helps the world.”

Beverly Austin, a 16-year breast  cancer survivor, shared her story during the opening ceremony, highlighting the community’s support and City of Hope’s care. “Because of people like you, I’m here today,” she said.

And because of people like Austin, every year, City of Hope hosts Walk for Hope so that we can one day live in a world without women’s cancers.

Team name: Fight Like Mami Chela at City of Hope's Walk for Hope

The “Fight Like Mami Chela” team joins thousands of other Walk for Hope participants to help find cures for women’s cancers.  (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Walk for Hope

Breast cancer patient Becky Stokes, shown here at the 18th annual Walk for Hope, celebrates a milestone. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)


For low-risk prostate cancer, he chose ‘active surveillance’

March 6, 2014 | by

When Ralph Richardson discovered that his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reading was a 6, he told his primary care physician that he wanted to go to City of Hope. “I felt I was better off in a City of Hope environment, where it’s a cancer treatment specialty hospital. This is what they do,” Richardson said.

At City of Hope, Richardson met with Jonathan Yamzon, M.D., clinical professor in the Prostate Cancer Program. “After Ralph’s biopsy revealed prostate cancer, we discussed the parameters used to stratify his risk of disease progression, and he fell into the ‘low-risk’ category. With that, we discussed his options, including treatment with robotic-assisted surgery or radiation therapy, versus active surveillance. Since his cancer risk was low, I recommended active surveillance as the most appropriate treatment,” Yamzon said.

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Brain tumor research: 3 foundations back neural stem cell work

February 18, 2014 | by




Despite gradual improvements over the years, brain tumors remain particularly tricky to treat. Treatment can affect normal brain tissue, which can cause physical and cognitive impairment. One particularly challenging obstacle is the blood-brain barrier, which prevents cancer drugs from passing into the brain and attacking the tumor. Gutova is an assistant research professor of neurosciences . She may have found a way to get through that barrier — using neural stem cells.

But Margarita Gutova, M.D., assistant research professor in the laboratory of Karen Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and the Division of Neurosurgery, in collaboration with Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., director of the tumor initiation and maintenance program at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, may have found a way to bypass this barrier using neural stem cells — self-renewing cells that can later differentiate into neurons and other nervous system cells.

“Neural stem cells offer a novel way to overcome this obstacle because they can cross the blood-brain barrier and selectively target tumor cells throughout the brain,” Gutova said.

In this visualization, neural stem cells (red) are gathering around the brain tumor cells (green), showing its potential to selectively deliver treatment at the tumor site.

In this visualization, neural stem cells (red) gather around the brain tumor cells (green), showing the potential to selectively deliver treatment at the tumor site.

In the video above, Gutova explained how this ability can be harnessed to help treat brain tumors. Used as a delivery vehicle, neural stem cells can be engineered to target and deliver anti-cancer agents specifically to brain tumor sites. This method results in concentrated therapy at the tumor sites, while minimizing harm to surrounding normal tissue.

Additionally, Gutova is investigating whether the neural stem cells can be delivered intranasally, or through the nostrils and nasal cavity. This novel delivery method, if proven effective, is much less invasive, and could reduce the number of complicated procedures — and their associated risks — that these young patients must often endure. » Continue Reading


Lymphoma changed Emmet and Toni Stephenson; now they want to change it

February 12, 2014 | by

During their 46-year marriage – an attraction begun as kindergarten sweethearts – entrepreneurs Emmet and Toni Stephenson have worked together to build diverse businesses ranging from portfolio management to Internet publishing. When Toni was diagnosed with T cell lymphoma last spring, the couple refocused their energies into restoring her health.

Stephensons

Emmet and Toni Stephenson with their daughter Tessa Stephenson Brand

“Cancer became the center of our life,” Emmet said. “Our priorities really got changed and turned upside down almost instantly.”

“It did change us,” Toni said. “It was quite a summer.”

Toni is currently in remission following treatment at City of Hope, and the couple and their only child, Tessa Stephenson Brand, recently gave City of Hope $10 million to create the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center. That center is the cornerstone of City of Hope’s new Hematologic Malignancies Institute. 

Here, the couple shares their life-changing experience – and how it led them to where they are today: trying to change the future for other people with lymphoma.  » Continue Reading