National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
June 1, 2010 • Volume 7 / Number 11

Cancer Center Profile

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Director: Dr. Judith Gasson • 8-684 Factor Building, Box 951781, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1781
Phone: 310-825-5268 • Web site: http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/

Background

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

In the late 1960s, a group of scientists and volunteers at UCLA came together to develop a cancer center they hoped would become renowned for excellence in research, education, and patient care.
           
Today, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) has established an international reputation for developing new cancer therapies, providing the best in experimental and traditional treatments, and expertly guiding and training the next generation of medical researchers. With a membership of more than 240 physicians and scientists, JCCC handles more than 20,000 patient visits per year and offers hundreds of clinical trials. The center was designated a comprehensive cancer center by NCI in 1976.

Research

JCCC researchers lead the way in research focused on cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship. JCCC physician-scientists have played key roles in the development and/or testing of trastuzumab (Herceptin) for breast cancer; bevacizumab (Avastin) for colon and lung cancer; rituximab (Rituxan) for lymphoma; erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) for lung cancer; imatinib (Gleevec) for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST); sunitinib (Sutent) for kidney cancer; dasatinib (Sprycel) for CML and breast cancer; panitumumab (Vectibix) for colorectal cancer; and lapatinib (Tykerb) for breast cancer.

The cancer center has partnered with outstanding scientists at UCLA to form a molecular imaging program that has resulted in compelling insights into cancer both in patients and animal models. Cancer center researchers have been able to track gene therapy at work in animal models and watch, in real time, the immune system’s first response to cancer.

JCCC leaders have also developed a focus on stem cell biology, including the study of cancer stem cells, which are thought to be the driving force behind the development and persistence of cancers. This effort also includes the UCLA Human Gene Medicine Program, which is developing and testing novel cell-based therapeutics to treat cancer.

Cancer center researchers also have been using nanotechnology to develop a localized and controlled drug delivery method that is invisible to the immune system, which could lead to newer and more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases. Nanotechnology is additionally providing novel ways to detect the presence of cancer cells and biomarkers in patient samples.

Community Outreach

JCCC researchers have a long history of disparities research and outreach to the Los Angeles community. To aid the underserved, JCCC created the UCLA-Avon Cares for Life program at Los Angeles County’s Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. This program helps low-income, underinsured, and uninsured women, many of them from minority populations, to navigate their way through breast cancer treatment. The women are guided by bilingual case workers from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. Cares for Life also includes a program designed to follow patients at high risk for developing breast cancer, to provide survivorship services, and to offer clinical trials for breast cancer.