Dr. Robert Reiter, a prominent prostate cancer researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), received an Early Translational Research Award totaling approximately $4 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state stem cell agency, recognizing his leading-edge, innovative research.
Reiter was among four UCLA researchers to receive one of the 12 total CIRM awards; no other applicant institution received more than one award. Joining Reiter were fellow JCCC members Dr. Jerome Zack, professor of medicine and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics; Dr. Donald Kohn, professor of pediatrics and microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics in the life sciences; and Dr. Gerald Lipshutz, associate professor-in-residence of surgery, urology and medicine.
The grants were announced at the meeting of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, CIRM’s governing body, in La Jolla, California, on August 28, 2013.
Reiter’s research focuses on developing a type of drug called a monoclonal antibody, which targets castration-resistant prostate cancer stem cells. Castration-resistant prostate cancer is a particularly aggressive, recurrent form of the disease. This potentially transformative treatment for cancer patients could eliminate the cancer stem cells responsible for recurrent disease and subsequently lead to long-term remissions.
The grants are part of CIRM’s Early Translational Research Initiative, which aims to fund and advance promising, innovative discoveries using stem cells. In this “early translation” phase, scientists are expected to do research that will result in the development of drugs or cellular therapies to be used in FDA-approved clinical trials, translating discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible.
CIRM was established in November 2004 by the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, a ballot measure that provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions. The bill received overwhelming approval from voters and called for establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research and facilities.
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2013, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 12 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 14 consecutive years. For more information on the Jonsson Cancer Center, visit our website at http://www.cancer.ucla.edu.