Every day in their laboratories, UCLA health sciences researchers demonstrate dedication and determination in their quests for discoveries that will improve and save lives. What happens behind the scenes helps medical professionals and their patients get out in front of illness and disease.
The support for such life-changing work sometimes comes from behind the scenes, too. For example, thanks to a $5 million pledge from an anonymous donor, UCLA experts will be able to accelerate discovery and improve patient outcomes in cancer and neuroscience.
A portion of the funds will help Drs. Roger Lo and Antoni Ribas address challenges caused by resistance to melanoma treatments. Although targeted therapies and immunotherapies have made important headway in combating melanoma, many cancer cells develop a resistance to them. Despite being the least common skin cancer, melanoma causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. And in the U.S., more cases of melanoma occur in California than in any other state. Lo and Ribas are ardently exploring new options to provide the best long-term outcomes for patients.
Exploring the Brain
In addition, an aging population makes brain health one of the most important issues of our time. Accordingly the rest of the gift will support UCLA neuroscience. One recipient is Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael, who leads research in mixed dementia and cell communication during tissue repair in the brain. The most common form of dementia, mixed dementia shows that Alzheimer’s disease and small strokes interact in the aged brain.
Elsewhere in neuroscience, the work of Dr. Baljit Khakh also will benefit from the donors’ generosity. His groundbreaking research on astrocyte function in the central nervous system has vital implications with respect to understanding and treating injury and illness. “These new insights herald the concept that these astrocytes play significant roles in health and disease,” says Khakh.
Donors, even anonymous ones, play leading roles, too.
Published September 2017