A Quarterly Publication of City of Hope | Volume 18 Number 3 | Summer 2007

Molecular biologist John Rossi named first holder of Lidow Family Research Chair

Kathleen O'Neil
City of Hope is using $3 million in gifts from Eric Lidow and the Lidow Foundation to establish an endowed chair to honor outstanding research. John Rossi, Ph.D., chair and professor of molecular biology and dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope, has been named the first holder of the Lidow Family Research Chair.

“These generous gifts highlight the way donors like the Lidow family help shape the future of research and discovery at City of Hope,“ said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. “John Rossi’s vision and commitment to scientific excellence have served as an example to researchers worldwide and to his colleagues at City of Hope. We are pleased that his leadership will be honored and look forward to his future scientific achievements as the first holder of the Lidow Family Research Chair.”

photo: Markie Ramirez

John Rossi at work.

Rossi is a world-renowned expert in the therapeutic application of short pieces of genetic material called small interfering RNAs that can silence genetic messages. He and his colleagues are investigating the use of small interfering RNAs to treat HIV. One of the investigators’ currently approved clinical trials would be the first to evaluate the use of gene therapy that targets three genes together with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to fight HIV and HIV-related lymphoma at the same time.

Rossi’s research interests include the use of modified genetic material to fight viruses and cancer. He led the research team that helped create ribozymes, short pieces of RNA that catalyze reactions, which can interfere with the growth and replication of HIV and chronic myelogenous leukemia.

In 1993, City of Hope bestowed its highest honor upon Rossi by naming him to its Gallery of Medical and Scientific Achievement for his pioneering molecular work in HIV/AIDS. He also was recognized with a 2002 Merit Award by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease for his work on AIDS.

The Division of Molecular Biology at City of Hope has made major contributions in the chemistry and applications of synthetic DNA in biology and medicine, including synthesizing the first recombinant human peptide hormone genes for human growth hormone and human insulin, which led to the development of the first synthetic insulin. Investigators in the division have a broad range of interests that center on understanding the mechanisms that control expression of genetic information. City of Hope is committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries in the laboratory into clinical treatments benefiting patients.

The Lidow family is proud to play a role in science with such promise and impact. “We are pleased to support outstanding research and make a meaningful contribution to fighting serious diseases,” said Eric Lidow. “We hope this gift will support City of Hope in continuing its track record of research accomplishments.”

Lidow and his father, Leon, founded International Rectifier (IR), a semiconductor design and manufacturing company based in El Segundo, Calif., in 1947. The publiclytraded company now employs 5,800 people worldwide, and posts more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The IR power chips and electrical subsystems are applied to make laptop computers run longer and vehicles more efficient, among other uses. In 2006, Eric Lidow was awarded an Elektra Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his profound and lasting impact on the electronics industry.

The Lidow Foundation was established in 1957 to support services for the elderly, Jewish organizations, medical research and the arts. Eric Lidow serves as president of the foundation, and his wife, Elizabeth, and sons, Alan, Alexander and Derek Lidow, serve as officers or directors of the foundation.

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