Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’


Helmsley Charitable Trust supports work of islet cell researchers

May 4, 2015 | by

Henry Ford said it well: “Working together is success.” For biomedical researchers, this is especially true. The challenges they face often require expertise from multiple fields to find answers and solutions.

Joyce Niland

Joyce Niland has received City of Hope’s first-ever grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, supporting diabetes research.

Scientists seeking cures for type 1 diabetes in particular must overcome biological, medical and technological barriers that make the disease particularly difficult to address. A breakthrough grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will help.

Joyce Niland, Ph.D., the Edward and Estelle Alexander Chair in Information Sciences, is principal investigator on the three-year, $228,000 grant — the first obtained from the Helmsley Charitable Trust by a City of Hope investigator. It will support and encourage the attendance of diabetes researchers at annual Human Islet Cell Research Network (HIRN) conferences.

The HIRN was recently launched by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to understand how human beta cells — the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin — are lost in people with type 1 diabetes. Chief among the network’s objectives is to find innovative strategies to protect or replace functional beta cells in those living with the disease.

The network focuses on research that will lead to a greater understanding of the early stages of the type 1 diabetes disease process in humans. The grant from the trust will help make it easier for members to learn, collaborate and advance their work by providing opportunities for exchange of scientific ideas, fostering collaborations, generating additional joint projects and supporting junior investigators who may not otherwise be able to attend.

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9-year-old Amanda, a bone marrow transplant patient, meets her superhero

May 3, 2015 | by

Superheroes are making plenty of headlines as the summer blockbuster season opens. At City of Hope, a 9-year-old girl wept as she hugged her own superhero: someone who had the superpower of healing her cancer.

bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplant patient Amanda Cooper, 9, meets her donor and hero, Lars Nijland.

He didn’t wear flashy armor or a cape, but rather a plaid shirt. He doesn’t have a secret hideout, a signal that blazes across the sky when he’s needed or a funny catch phrase. He did travel all the way from Germany, and over and over said he was just doing the right thing.

Bone marrow transplant patient Amanda Cooper, who was treated for acute myeloid leukemia at age 7, finally met Lars Nijland, the 24-year-old man who donated the bone marrow making her transplant and cure possible. They met at City of Hope’s 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion. Amanda, standing tall in red patent leather shoes – her companion Honey Buns the bear just out of sight – faced a crowd of her fellow cancer survivors and TV cameras to deliver the speech she wrote to welcome her donor. » Continue Reading


Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion: What patients and donors have to say

May 1, 2015 | by
BMT reunion 2014

On Friday, May 1, 2015, at the 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion, two patients will meet the donors who saved them. The moments are deeply personal but also universal in their expressions of gratitude and humanity. Shown here: Group reunion shot from 2014.

“Superheroes,” “grateful” and “lifesavers”: All are words patients have used to describe their bone marrow donors. For donors, “a great feeling” and “the right thing to do” seems to sum up their view of donating the stem cells used to save someone’s life.

Bone marrow transplants offer a second chance at life for people with life-threatening blood cancers and other hematologic malignancies. City of Hope performed its first bone marrow transplant in 1976. Since then, thousands of patients from virtually every state and dozens of countries have undergone bone marrow, cord blood or stem cell transplants at City of Hope.

But many recipients, though overwhelmed with curiosity and the need to express their gratitude, can only dream of meeting the strangers who helped them defeat their disease. Each year, City of Hope makes that dream come true for two patients at the annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

On Friday, May 1, at the 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion, two more patients and their families will meet the donors who saved them. Each experience will be unique and deeply personal, but the words of past donors and patients offer a glimpse into the power of the moment: » Continue Reading


Bone marrow donor Phil Ratcliff: Why wouldn’t you donate?

April 30, 2015 | by

Updated: May 1, 2015

More than a decade after joining the bone marrow registry during a blood drive at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Phil Ratcliff received a call that he was a match for a leukemia patient. By then, he’d left his military career to start his own financial business, married and had three children. One thing hadn’t changed, however – his worldview.

bone marrow donor

Bone marrow donor Phil Ratcliff and his family will meet the patient who received his donation at the Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

“Why wouldn’t you sign up to help somebody or help some kid?” said Ratcliff, 34. “I think the world would be a better place if more people helped each other out.”

On Friday, May 1, at City of Hope’s 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion, Ratcliff, who lives in Ohio, met the 16-year-old Los Angeles cancer survivor whose life he saved through his stem cell donation. Although she is a high school sophomore still contemplating her college options, and he’s the president of a finance company halfway across the country, they now have much in common. » Continue Reading


Bone marrow donor Lars Nijland: ‘No easier way to save somebody’s life’

April 29, 2015 | by

Updated: May 1.

For Lars Nijland, the reason to become a member of a bone marrow registry was simple.

“I always thought there would be no easier way to save somebody’s life,” said the 24-year-old student at Germany’s University of Goettingen, who signed up for the registry during a drive on his campus.

Nijland met the patient, Amanda Cooper, now 9, whose life he saved at the 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion at City of Hope on May 1. Germany has one of the largest bone marrow donor registries in the world, and in recent years, many of the donors who have visited the BMT Reunion at City of Hope have hailed from Nijland’s home country.

In fact, he has two classmates who have also been bone marrow donors. » Continue Reading


BMT patient Amanda Cooper, 9, has a ‘fun’ message for bone marrow donor

April 28, 2015 | by

Updated: May 1

No parent ever wants to see their child hurting or sick in any way. Joanne Cooper’s daughter Amanda wasn’t sick, though. She seemed healthy. Vibrant. A straight-A student whose only major health ailment had been bouts of stress-related nausea.

bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplant recipient Amanda Cooper and her teddy bear Honey Buns at City of Hope in 2013.

Then a blood test revealed that Amanda – now 9 years old – had myelodysplastic syndrome – her blood stem cells were not maturing into red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. She needed a bone marrow transplant, and none of her family members were a match.

“I remember Dr. (Stephen J.) Forman saying to me, ‘What do you want?’ I looked at him and said I wanted a miracle,” Cooper said. “I just wanted the thing to be gone.”

Forman told her that a matching donor for her daughter could be found. Amanda had her transplant in February 2013. As Cooper recalled: “‘This is the miracle,’ he said. “And it really was.”

That miracle came from a young man in Germany named Lars Nijland. Amanda and her parents Greg and Joanne Cooper thanked him in person at City of Hope’s 39th annual Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion. The Coopers were among the 4,500 patients and family members who celebrated survival and second chances. The festivities kicked off with Amanda and another patient, Yesenia Portillo, meeting their unrelated donors for the first time.

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Gut microorganisms could influence outcomes of bone marrow transplants

April 26, 2015 | by
van den Brink

Marcel R.M. van den Brink will deliver the annual Karl G. Blume-Gerhard Schmidt Memorial Lecture, titled “Intestinal Microbiota and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.”

Some of City of Hope’s most high-impact achievements have arisen from City of Hope’s globally recognized bone marrow transplant (BMT) program. The annual Karl G. Blume – Gerhard Schmidt Memorial Lecture in Transplantation Biology & Medicine — commemorating two of the most influential and revered figures in the program and in the field as a whole — highlights current topics in transplantation research and treatment.

This year’s much-anticipated lecture takes place April 29 at 4 p.m. in Argyros Auditorium on the Duarte, California, campus. As always, the event precedes the annual Bone Marrow Transplantation Reunion, which this year occurs on May 1.

Marcel R.M. van den Brink, M.D., Ph.D., Alan Houghton Professor in Immunology and head of the Division of Hematologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will deliver the talk, titled “Intestinal Microbiota and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.”

“Research into the role of microorganisms in our health is rapidly expanding, and Dr. van den Brink’s work is some of the most innovative in the country,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. “I’m very happy to have him present his work as our honoree for this year’s lecture.”

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Hematologist-oncologist Guido Marcucci wants ‘a society free of cancer’

April 25, 2015 | by

Guido Marcucci, M.D., wants to put himself out of business.

Marcucci Guido

Renowned hematologist-oncologist Guido Marcucci is co-director of the Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research within our Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

A respected clinician and esteemed basic and translational scientist, Marcucci joins City of Hope as co-director of the Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute. In this position, and as director of the Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research, Marcucci will guide research into improved treatments, and even cures, for leukemia and other hematologic malignancies.

“For a physician-scientist like myself, City of Hope is an ideal place to work because both the research and clinical missions are fundamental and equally important for pursuing a society free of cancer,” he said.

Marcucci said he has a long-held passion for cancer research, and in particular for understanding its root causes. “I have always been interested in answering the fundamental questions of what events initiate cancer, and I believe that leukemia can be used as a model to answer these questions,” he said.

Ultimately, Marcucci hopes his work will make cancer — and in particular, leukemia — a footnote in history. “I know what a devastating disease leukemia can be for patients and their families. I would love one day to be able to say that I helped to alleviate their suffering.”

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BMT reunion celebrates lives saved on the frontiers of science

April 20, 2015 | by

Updated: May 1


Each year, City of Hope patients given another chance at life gather to pose for a picture like this one. Going on its 39th year, the celebration of patients free of blood cancers thanks to bone marrow or stem cell transplants has grown such that a photographer has to scale a cherry picker just to get them all in.

bone marrow transplant

City of Hope has performed over 12,000 hematopoietic cell transplants, and has the best outcomes in the nation. Here are some of our survivors at the 2014 BMT Reunion.

“Imagine this space if we didn’t have this program,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “There wouldn’t be any people. Just trees.”

Forman can remember when there was no such picture to take, when the first Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion consisted of a single patient and his donor – his brother. Since then, the event has expanded dramatically. Now, beloved Dodger baseball players offer their well-wishes to current patients and survivors, renowned musicians and comedians – cancer survivors themselves – perform for an empathetic audience, and patients meet their stem cell donors from across the globe.

The heart of the celebration is more than 4,500 patients and family members who celebrate their personal anniversaries, each wearing a button proudly proclaiming how long it’s been since their transplant, which ranges from months to decades. This year, the reunion was Friday, May 1. There – amid the cupcakes, barbecue, music and festive atmosphere for patients – physicians, nurses and other caregivers find the motivation that carries them to the next reunion. » Continue Reading


$6.8 million NCI grant will improve palliative care in clinical trials

April 18, 2015 | by
City of Hope's Betty Ferrell

City of Hope’s Betty Ferrell is testing a new palliative care model on patients in a phase I clinical trial.

Cancer patients who are participating in early-stage clinical trials need extra emotional and physical support due to their additional stress and often unique symptoms. Now an effort by researchers at City of Hope to create a model for such support has received a $6.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The grant will support work by City of Hope’s Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., and another institution to test a palliative care intervention program for cancer patients with a solid tumor who are also participating in a phase I clinical trial. The intervention aims to improve patients’ quality of life and symptoms and to promote the use of a hospital’s palliative care resources.
“The patients who are going on phase I clinical trials tend to be very sick,” said Ferrell, director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope and leader in the field of palliative care nursing and research. “Yet, they are volunteering to help us advance science by participating in our clinical trials and helping us advance treatments for the future. We want to make sure they are well-taken care of during the process and getting the best support possible.”

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