Caltech and City of Hope Formalize Collaboration

Caltech and City of Hope have signed a memorandum of understanding, formalizing a relationship that encourages researchers from the two institutions to collaborate and share resources in the interest of furthering both basic scientific research and translational projects—those with a medical application.

"Bringing together Caltech and City of Hope researchers will surely result in transformative science and hopefully also new approaches to medical care," says Jacqueline K. Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech.

"The complementary nature of this partnership is a natural fit between our two institutions," says David Horne, vice provost and associate director of the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope. "The translational opportunities in therapeutics and devices have never been greater, and this partnership comes at an opportune time to advance health care in oncology, diabetes, and HIV, which are City of Hope's major focus areas."

As a result of the new agreement, City of Hope researchers will have access to several unique Caltech facilities, including the Molecular Observatory, an X-ray crystallography resource with an automated beamline at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory; the Center for Catalysis and Chemical Synthesis, a synthetic-chemistry center that offers robotic instrumentation for high-throughput screening and analysis of chemical entities; and the Center for the Chemistry of Cellular Signaling, which analyzes the systems of molecules that dictate how cells behave and react to their surroundings.

Likewise, Caltech scientists and engineers will be able to access City of Hope's array of core research services, including resources such as the Pathology Core, a facility that provides access to preserved tumors and normal tissues; the Analytical Pharmacology Core Facility, which conducts pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies for chemotherapy clinical trials and peer-reviewed preclinical studies; the Animal Tumor Model Core, which creates various cancer models in mice for testing novel experimental therapies; and the Translational Research Laboratory, which helps with the design of clinical trials and basic research studies using samples from clinical trials.

"This is a very timely event, and I see it as building a bridge between Caltech and City of Hope that is natural both in proximity and in the way we complement each other," says Peter Dervan, Caltech's Bren Professor of Chemistry. "Caltech has always been very strong in basic fundamental research. But today, Caltech scientists and engineers are genuinely interested in taking the discoveries that we make in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and bioengineering to real-world practical applications. City of Hope is a renowned medical research center that is only 20 minutes away and can work with us collaboratively on these translational problems. This is going to be a win-win partnership."

The memorandum establishes the Arthur D. Riggs Distinguished Lectureship series, which will bring scientists from across the country to speak at Caltech and City of Hope on current projects in basic research as well as on efforts to predict, prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure such diseases as cancer, diabetes, and HIV.

The first lecture in that series will be delivered on Wednesday, November 19, by a distinguished molecular biologist who knows both Caltech and City of Hope well: Riggs himself. Riggs completed his doctoral work in biochemistry at Caltech in 1966; at City of Hope, he is now a professor of cancer biology and chair of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research as well as director emeritus of the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope.

"We are really excited that Art has agreed to be the kickoff lecturer," says Dervan. "By sharing interest in the lectures, researchers at Caltech and City of Hope will share ideas, and I think at the end of the day we're going to be sharing students—postdoctoral coworkers and graduate students—on collaborative projects."

Riggs's lecture, " Reflections on a Career of Collaboration, Mostly with Caltech," will begin at 4 p.m. in Gates Annex 22 at Caltech and is open to the public.

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier