UCI gifted $200 million for Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences

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Frank LaFerla, PhD, Co-Director of UCI MIND, Dean of the Ayala School of Biological Sciences

Today, UCI announced a transformative gift of $200 million to create the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences (press release).  The

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Blood test for Alzheimer’s disease? UCI MIND investigator, Dr. Mark Mapstone comments

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by Mark Mapstone, PhD, Professor of Neurology

By now, most Alzheimer’s researchers have seen the writing on the wall. If we are to realize successful treatments or even a cure for Alzheimer’s disease we must turn our attention from the …

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Sheryl Crow to headline UCI Anti-Cancer Challenge Celebration Concert

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Nine time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow will headline the “Anti-Cancer Challenge Celebration Concert” to be held Oct. 21, 2017 at the UC Irvine Bren Events Center on the UC Irvine campus. The concert will cap the inaugural Anti-Cancer Challenge series of events to raise funds for the UC Irvine Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only place in Orange County where people with advanced-stage or treatment-resistant cancers can access early-phase clinical trials involving the very latest therapies.

The Anti-Cancer Challenge Weekend at Angel Stadium in June features a series of cycling events, a 5K run/walk and children’s ride and will bring together individuals and teams representing community groups, friends, families and companies for one common goal – to end cancer.  More than 6,000 people attended the Anti-Cancer Challenge Festival and 140 teams competed in 10-, 30-, 60- and 100-mile cycling rides across Orange County and a 5K run/walk through Angel Stadium

The inaugural event raised more than $600,000.

“This celebration concert featuring Sheryl Crow is our way of thanking race participants, sponsors and other donors,” said Richard A. Van Etten, MD, PhD, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Challenge participants will receive concert tickets based on their fundraising support. Those raising $500 or more will receive a ticket, $2,500 or more receive two tickets, and participants raising $10,000 or more will receive two floor tickets. In addition, top fundraisers, current and prospective sponsors will be invited to a VIP reception before the concert.

The UC Irvine Bren Events Center tickets for the concert are now on sale to the public.

Learn more about participating in the challenge here: www.anticancerchallenge.org

Anti-Cancer Challenge sponsors included: Monster Energy, Ambry Genetics, Hensel Phelps, Hyundai, Pfizer Oncology, Anaheim Ducks, FivePoint, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Angels Baseball Foundation, Brightview Landscape, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Critchfield Mechanical, DPR Construction, FPL and Associates, Jacobs, Geodesign, Genentech, Griffith Construction, Hologic, Lynn Capouya Inc., MA Engineers, Medline, Octapharma, Pacific Ventures Management, PIMCO Foundation, Purequosa, SCMS Sindoni Consulting & Management Services. 

Sponsors providing in-kind contributions include: Beacons Point, California Pizza Kitchen, The Cyclist, Full Psycle, Ruby’s Diner.

The Anti-Cancer Celebration Concert

Sheryl Crow is an American music icon. Her eight studio albums have sold 35 million copies worldwide; seven of them charted in the Top 10 and five were certified for multi-platinum sales. In addition to such No. 1 hits as “All I Wanna Do,” “Soak Up the Sun” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” Crow has placed 40 singles into the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Mainstream Top 40 and Hot Country Songs charts, with more No. 1 singles in the Triple A listings than any other female artist. Many artists have collaborated with her on special projects, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Smokey Robinson and Tony Bennett.

The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

One of only 48 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only such center serving more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County.

“Institutions lacking their own research base can quickly follow and adopt advances developed elsewhere, but they cannot lead in the same way comprehensive cancer centers that integrate research with clinical care can,” Van Etten said.  “It is our mission to translate the findings of basic research into treatments that can benefit patients.”

Established in 1989, the UC Irvine Cancer Center first achieved the NCI cancer center designation in 1994, followed by comprehensive designation in 1997. It was renamed in honor of the Chao family as the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and operates fully integrated research, prevention, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation programs. Since 2008, patient access to the center’s more than 300 clinical trials has increased 90 percent.  

In recent years, UC Irvine cancer center members have led practice-changing research and clinical trials that have extended survival in lung cancercervical cancer and metastatic breast cancer and have called attention to the significant disparities that exist in access to the top treatments for ovarian cancer.  

In addition to its primary location at the UC Irvine Medical Center campus in Orange, UC Irvine Health delivers cancer care at the UC Irvine Health Cancer Center – Newport and UC Irvine Health Pacific Breast Care Center, both in Costa Mesa.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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Recent publication on chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players

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By S. Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD, MRCP

Assistant Professor, Neurology

In the recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from Boston University published seminal findings on the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American

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Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Lindsay Hohsfield wins AAIC Poster Competition

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Photo provided by the Alzheimer’s Association

Dr. Lindsay Hohsfield, postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Kim Green, was awarded first prize in the Basic and Translational Science Poster Competition at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. Her

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Dr. Claudia Kawas receives AAIC Lifetime Achievement Award

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UCI MIND congratulates Dr. Claudia Kawas, recipient of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Bengt Winblad Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Kawas was honored at the 2017 conference in London for her lifetime commitment and contributions to the field of Alzheimer’s disease

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Dr. Joshua Grill Addresses Corporations’ Role in Combating Alzheimer’s

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Co-Director Dr. Joshua Grill and his colleague from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Jason Karlawish, wrote an article for Forbes regarding the role companies must take to fight Alzheimer’s in our country.

“More than 5,000,000 Americans are living with Alzheimer’s

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Day 3: Alzheimer’s Association International Conference In London

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Co-Director, Dr. Joshua Grill, discusses important discoveries in biomarker testing (video).

Dr. Liz Spangenberg presents her research in Dr. Kim Green’s lab on the role of the brain’s immune cells, microglia, in the regulation of amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease

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AAIC 2017 Research Update: Stress raises risk of Alzheimer’s for African Americans

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An important presentation by UCI MIND’s Dr. Maria Corrada, delivered on July 16 at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, has generated substantial media attention.

The presentation discussed results of a joint study between UCI and Kaiser Permanente researchers,

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Chao family: silent partners in Orange County healthcare

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Their name may be on UC Irvine buildings, but members of the Chao family prefer working behind the scenes to improve the health of the community.

Since their first gift to the university in 1995, three generations of Chaos have given nearly $30 million to the campus, quietly reshaping cancer research and healthcare in Orange County and beyond.

Recently, the second-eldest of the four Chao siblings, Allen Chao, agreed to discuss the story behind the family’s philanthropy, but only because doing so might raise awareness of UC Irvine Health’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center as a community resource.

The tale he tells includes a brush with death, a tranquilizer that treats schizophrenia and a dash of motherly wisdom. It begins in the late 1960s, when the siblings — Allen, Agnes, Phylis and Richard — trickled out of Taiwan to attend colleges in the United States.

Allen Chao started his U.S. career at G.D. Searle, when it was still a family-owned and ‑operated pharmaceutical business. Eventually, he determined that he’d rather have his own family’s name on his business card.

In 1984, he co-founded a generic drug manufacturing company with brother-in-law David Hsia, Phylis’ husband and a fellow Purdue University alumnus. After being rebuffed by banks and venture capital outfits, they turned to relatives and friends in California for startup funding and launched Watson Pharmaceuticals — the maiden name of Chao’s late mother, Hwa, combined with “son” — headquartered in Corona.

Specializing in niche products, such as Loxapine for schizophrenia, and innovative delivery systems, such as skin patches and nasal sprays, the business flourished. By the time Chao and Hsia retired in 2008, Watson was a $3-billion behemoth. (It was later renamed Actavis and then Allergan, after acquiring those companies.)

Not surprisingly, the family’s health industry background influenced its charity choices. Patriarch H.H. Chao, who died in 1999, owned a generic drug firm in Taiwan before moving to California in the early 1970s. And three of his grandchildren — the sons of Agnes, Allen and Richard Chao — have medical degrees.

“As healthcare professionals aware of the pain and suffering caused by cancer, the idea was that we should do something to help,” Allen Chao says of the siblings’ original decision to donate to UC Irvine’s cancer center. It also reflected his mother’s longtime admonition to give back to the community. “Remember where you came from and who made you successful,” he recalls her saying.

Initially, the family had no personal ties to the university or the disease. But that soon changed. In 1999, Allen Chao developed stomach cancer. He sought the care of UC Irvine gastroenterologist Dr. Kenneth Chang, who was able to remove all signs of the disease.

Chao and his brother and sisters made a new gift that would continue the study of the relationship between genes and tumors and introduce research and education programs aimed at Asian Americans, who have the highest rates of liver and stomach cancer in the nation.

“The first donation was made from the outside looking in,” he says. “When I personally got a scare, I was more grateful for UCI and wanted to improve cancer prevention and outreach.”

The siblings’ father, spouses and adult children have also contributed to UC Irvine over the years, mostly to support medical research but also to launch a cancer lecture series and help fund innovative campus and hospital construction projects. “We get an idea, discuss it among ourselves and make a decision,” Allen Chao says. “Whoever wants to join can participate.”

The gifts have been a boon to cancer treatment and research, says Richard Van Etten, MD, PhD, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated facility.

UC Irvine Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only hospital where patients can find experts in every type of cancer and take part in early-phase clinical trials of experimental drugs, he says. It also runs a transgenic mouse program that creates genetically engineered rodents for tumor research at UC Irvine, UCLA and 30 other institutions.

In the late ’80s, around the time UC Irvine began to formalize its cancer center structure and pursue a National Cancer Institute designation, several other local hospitals offered similar cancer services, according to Chang, who leads the university’s H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center (CDDC). But — thanks in no small part to the Chaos — “nothing in Orange County now comes close to providing the level of care that cancer patients receive at UCI,” Chang says.

A spacious new CDDC opens to the public thanks in part to the Chao family’s largesse ›

The cancer center often offers techniques and treatments — from endoscopic ultrasound for early diagnosis to promising brain tumor therapies — before they’re available elsewhere.

One of the Chao family’s chief missions is improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. It inspired their generic drug business and also animates their new generic biologics firm, Tanvex BioPharma, which seeks to affordably mimic costly large-molecule pharmaceuticals that combat arthritis, allergies, cancer and psoriasis.

When asked about drug companies that have come under fire for astronomical price increases, Allen Chao says his father taught him a different approach. “The purpose of making pharmaceuticals is to help people,” he says. “Yes, you need to get your investment back so you can do more research and create more jobs, but some businesspeople love to create more money by doing more expensive drugs. I don’t think that’s the proper way to make a profit.”

Aiding the community also informs the family’s philanthropy, Chao says. For example, cancer patients often spend hours receiving infusions and other treatments, so it’s important that Orange County residents have care facilities nearby that means they don’t have to drive to Los Angeles, he explains. The family’s gifts further enhanced patient comfort by supporting a remodel of the cancer center that made the ambience of the infusion center more like a hotel than a hospital, say UC Irvine cancer center officials.

Most recently, the family has funded two endowed chairs at the cancer center, which improves its ability to win grants and recruit nationally known researchers, says Van Etten, recipient of the Chao Family Endowed Director’s Chair in Cancer Research and Treatment. It will also support investigations into blood cancers and hereditary tumor links.

Gastroenterologist Chang says the family’s generosity has ripple effects that span the globe. “The medical student training, the research publications and the treatment breakthroughs coming out of this place are helping countless patients,” he says. “The Chao donations are the proverbial gift that keeps giving. I don’t think they even know the full impact. They’re so unassuming and down-to-earth.”

Van Etten echoes that assessment, adding, “Their gifts help give us the resources to conduct transdisciplinary research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer – and to serve our Orange County community.”

Allen Chao sees the impact in simple terms: “Cancer is so debilitating. Anything we can do to help patients, doctors and families – we just think that’s the right thing to do.”

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