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City of Hope to Accelerate Immunotherapy Research & Treatment Innovation with $15 Mil Gift from Ted Schwartz Family

City of Hope lymphoma survivor supports one of the world's leading CAR T cell programs that achieved his remission

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City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States, announced today a $15 million gift from City of Hope patient and cancer survivor Ted Schwartz that will be used entirely to further accelerate immunotherapy research and treatment innovations, such as the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy that saved his life.

Ted Schwartz, who is now cancer free, achieved complete remission at City of Hope in 2020 with the center’s leading CAR T cell therapy after a 16-year battle with lymphoma, provided the gift to City of Hope to advance treatment options that offer better outcomes and quality of life for people living with cancer.

Schwartz made the gift in honor of the team at City of Hope and his trusted physician and friend Steven Rosen, M.D., City of Hope’s provost and chief scientific officer, and Morgan & Helen Chu Director’s Chair of the Beckman Research Institute, who will direct the research funds with a core committee. City of Hope, a global leader in CAR T cell therapy, has built one of the most comprehensive CAR T clinical research programs in the world. The Schwartz family gift will be used to establish two funds at City of Hope: the Accelerator Fund for Immunotherapeutics to provide immediate support for City of Hope’s immunotherapy teams and the Immunotherapeutics Research Endowment Fund, a planned gift to provide steady support for research teams to explore new potential therapies for decades to come.

In an expression of gratitude for the Schwartz gift, City of Hope is naming a planned 1.65-acre park in honor of the Schwartz family. The “Ted Schwartz Family Hope and Healing Park” will open in 2024 on City of Hope’s Los Angeles campus and offer a peaceful space for patients and visitors. “This garden will provide comfort, hope and inspiration to people who are battling cancer, and their families,” Schwartz said, “as I understand clearly what they are experiencing.” Schwartz continues to mentor and coach other patients receiving CAR T and other advanced treatments in an effort to extend hope.

“The CAR T treatment I received at City of Hope is what finally helped me conquer lymphoma after a long 16-year battle, including multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. I’m an early beneficiary of advances in this exciting immunotherapy, and I want the research to progress so more people can experience remission sooner,” Schwartz added. “My family and I provide this gift in honor of my friend and physician, Dr. Rosen. Dr. Rosen and his colleagues at City of Hope, who treat every patient with the utmost dignity and care, continue to lead the way in advancing world-class CAR T and other advanced treatments, and help others avoid some of the hardships and side effects associated with some current treatments and experience longer-lasting remission.”

City of Hope, a leader in blood cancer research and treatment and a pioneer of CAR T cell therapy, applies proprietary CAR T-cell technology across clinical and preclinical programs to address some of the hardest-to-treat cancers. City of Hope is conducting over 70 CAR T and other immune effector cell trials and to-date, approximately 1,000 patients have participated in those trials or have been treated with Food & Drug Administration-approved CAR T cell therapies. Due to City of Hope’s longstanding expertise delivering CAR T therapy, most CAR T treatments currently administered at City of Hope are provided in an outpatient setting.

“A century of leading-edge research centered around patients has positioned City of Hope at the forefront of groundbreaking discovery in CAR T cell therapy. We now have one of the largest CAR T cell programs in the world. CAR T treatment holds remarkable promise for so many patients, like Ted, who are battling difficult to treat cancers,” Rosen said. “The Schwartz family’s gift will allow us to continue advancing promising immunotherapy research in our City of Hope labs and produce meaningful options for patients in need of more targeted lifesaving treatments.”

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of patients’ own immune systems to recognize and fight cancer, often producing lasting results with fewer side effects compared to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. CAR T cell therapy is a powerful form of immunotherapy. CAR T cell therapy works by taking immune cells from a patient’s bloodstream, reprogramming the cells to recognize and attack a specific protein found in cancer cells, then reintroducing them into the patient’s system, where they can destroy targeted tumor cells.

“We are so appreciative of Ted’s commitment to accelerating the immunotherapeutics research at City of Hope so that more patients like Ted will benefit from our innovative work,” said Elizabeth Budde, M.D., Ph.D., executive medical director, City of Hope’s Enterprise Immune Effector Cell Therapy Program.

“City of Hope is at the forefront of developing personalized treatments that create hope where it was not possible before, and Ted knows firsthand that cancer patients cannot afford to wait. Philanthropic partnerships play a crucial role in accelerating the development of novel cancer therapies and cures,” said Kristin Bertell, chief philanthropy officer at City of Hope. “We are so grateful to Ted and his family for their courage, resilience and incredible generosity to ensure lifesaving therapies are brought more quickly to patients who need them.”

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