Press Releases

$10 Million Gift will Fund Research Center Focused on Finding the Genetic Causes of Childhood Brain Cancer

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Center Created within Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine

San Diego – March 28, 2016 – Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego announced today the establishment of the Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics within the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Made possible by a $10 million endowment, the Center aims to accelerate the translation of leading-edge genomic research into prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cures.

The Center adds an important research component to Rady Children’s full range of advanced treatment options for childhood brain cancer, chief among them proton therapy, provided at Rady Children’s Hospital at Scripps Proton Therapy Center. Proton therapy is the preferred form of radiation therapy for many childhood cancers, especially brain and spinal tumors, because it spares healthy tissue from potentially damaging radiation.

“The first instinct of parents who have a child diagnosed with cancer is to seek out the best treatments available,” said Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, President and CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. “That’s exactly what our team of scientists, researchers and physicians intends to provide. By sequencing the tumor, we can discover the genomic foundation of the cancer, and develop individualized approaches to treatment.”

The $10 million endowment will be divided into three specific programs:

  • The Joseph Clayes III Neuro-Oncology Research Fund that will accelerate research into the understanding of the genomic foundation of childhood brain cancers and help scientists to develop individualized approaches to treatment.
  • The Joseph Clayes III Endowed Chair in Neuro-Oncology Research, allowing Rady Children’s to invest in top leadership talent with the knowledge and skill to lead advanced genomics research.
  • The Joseph Clayes III Neuro-Oncology Research Fellowship and Education Fund, allowing the most promising young scientists to learn the best approaches in pioneering cancer research, and preparing them to be future leaders in genomic medicine.

“The establishment of the Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics is the latest step forward to fulfilling the dream that every child who comes to Rady Children’s for care will have the benefits of genomic sequencing,” said David Hale, Board Chair of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine.

“By accelerating research, investing in top talent and training future leaders in genomic medicine, this generous gift has the very real potential to benefit generations of children,” said Donald Kearns, M.D., President and CEO of Rady Children’s. “We thank the Clayes Trust for this inspiring example of visionary giving.”

The namesake of the new Center, the late Joseph Clayes III, was a successful real-estate investor, avocado rancher and philanthropist who valued the importance of education, the arts and helping children. Brendan Holmes, a former business partner of Clayes, and Clayes’ niece Trulette Clayes, are co-trustees of the Joseph Clayes III Charitable Trust. They jointly made the decision to invest in the Center.

“My uncle Joe had a passion for causes that help children – specifically those who face physical or mental challenges in their lives,” said Trulette Clayes. “This endowment has the potential to change the course of how children with cancer receive treatment.”

“Making a positive and lasting impact on the lives of children with cancer perfectly illustrates the mission of the Trust that Joseph established,” said Brendan Holmes. “There’s no better investment than in the lives of children.”

The $10 Million endowment is the latest investment in the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, following Ernest and Evelyn Rady’s $120 million gift in August 2014 to establish the Institute, and a $2.5 million investment by Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary in May of 2015 to fund the first endowed chair of the Institute, Dr. Joseph Gleeson.

World-Renowned Genetics Researcher Named to Lead Rady Pediatric Genomics Institute

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San Diego – Sept. 21, 2015 – The Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s announced today it has named pediatric genomics researcher Stephen F. Kingsmore, MD, DSc, to lead the Institute as its President and CEO.

Among his pioneering achievements, Dr. Kingsmore developed the 50 hour genome, a process by which doctors are able to decode and interpret a newborn baby’s genome in just two days. The genetic test, named one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2012 by Time Magazine, rapidly screens the DNA of babies for about 4,500 diseases known to be linked to single-gene mutations.

Dr. Kingsmore and his team also designed a software system for neonatologists to look for disease in specific regions of the genome based on the newborn’s symptoms and then guide doctors to where they should interpret results. These important advances toward rapid genetic sequencing for newborns promise to one day replace the traditional newborn screening blood test.

“Dr. Kingsmore’s impressive record of achievement and his stellar reputation as a world leader in pediatric genomics will serve him well as he endeavors to bring the Institute’s vision to life – to fundamentally change and improve healthcare for children in San Diego and around the world,” said David F. Hale, Board Chair of Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute.

Dr. Kingsmore comes to Rady Children’s from Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where he most recently served as Executive Director of Medical Panomics. He was the Founding Director of the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children’s Mercy, during which time he and his team decoded the genome of more than 1,700 children and parents. To maintain the continuity of his important research, Dr. Kingsmore will continue to collaborate with Children’s Mercy during the transition.

“Recruiting this brilliant person is a home run for Rady Children’s and for San Diego,” said Donald Kearns, MD, President and CEO of Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego. “We are building an outstanding team in pediatric genomics at the Institute. With Dr. Kingsmore joining the top experts we already have in place at the Rady Pediatric Genomics Institute, I have no doubt we are going to change the world for pediatric care.”

Dr. Kingsmore will begin his new position at the Rady Pediatric Genomics Institute on September 28, 2015.

About Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s

The Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s was launched in April 2014 with a $120 million gift from the Rady Family and a $40 million investment from Rady Children’s Hospital. The Institute brings together world-class scientists and clinicians into a shared research infrastructure, one that will enable them to accelerate the translation and implementation of research discoveries for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately cures for childhood diseases. For more information visit www.rchsd.org/research/genomics-institute/.

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego:

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is a 520-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all ten pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. Rady Children’s is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to support its mission. For more information, visit www.rchsd.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.

Media Contact: Carlos Delgado
Office: 858-966-4901
cdelgado@rchsd.org

Leading Pediatric Neurogenetics Researcher Named as First Chair within Rady Pediatric Genomics Institute

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Dr. Joseph Gleeson Will Build Program in Pediatric Neurogenetics

San Diego – July 20, 2015 – Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego has identified its first-ever Endowed Chair within the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute: pediatric neurogeneticist Dr. Joseph Gleeson. Dr. Gleeson’s pioneering work will be supported by a $2.5 million endowment for neuroscience provided by Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary.

Dr. Gleeson will build an innovative program in neurogenetics that seeks to understand the genetic basis of diseases such as epilepsy, autism and mental disability and develop new treatments. He comes to San Diego from New York City, where he was head of the Laboratory of Pediatric Brain Disease at The Rockefeller University and a scientific advisory board director at the New York Genome Center, a consortium of renowned academic, medical and industry leaders focused on translating genomic research into clinical solutions for serious disease. Dr. Gleeson will maintain access to the world-class scientific resources and collaborators at both institutions.

“The recruitment of a scientist of Dr. Gleeson’s caliber represents a major step in our vision to pursue pediatric genomics research at the highest level,” said David Hale, Board Chair of Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute at Rady Children’s. “Dr. Gleeson fully supports our goal that one day every child who comes to Rady Children’s for care will have the benefits of genomic sequencing.”

Among his recent findings, Dr. Gleeson’s lab has identified approximately 200 new causes for neurodevelopmental diseases that are not yet published.

“We’re excited to use these findings as a platform to diagnose kids at Rady Children’s,” said Dr. Gleeson. “We’ve already begun some pilot genome sequencing of patients at Rady Children’s neurology clinic and hope to find matches within that population for some of these newly identified genetic causes of disease.”

Another key initiative Dr. Gleeson is undertaking is searching for the genetic cause of intractable epilepsy in pediatric patients (epilepsy that does not respond to treatment with medication). Using samples of brain tissue obtained from a consortium of neurosurgeons around the world, Dr. Gleeson plans to sequence the part of the brain suspected of causing epilepsy with the goal of discovering the genetic origin.

Over the years, Dr. Gleeson’s lab has sequenced a defined population group of more than 3,000 patients, one of the largest groups in the world with recessive forms of neurodevelopmental disease. With this data, the lab has determined that some of these conditions previously thought untreatable have potential points of treatment.

“We are thrilled to welcome a true visionary in the field of Genomics research to lead our journey into the future of pediatric medicine,” said Dr. Donald Kearns, President and Chief Executive Officer at Rady Children’s.

Dr. Gleeson was previously a Professor at UC San Diego and a physician at Rady Children’s before moving his lab to Rockefeller. Dr. Gleeson will also be a professor of Neurosciences and Pediatrics at UC San Diego (pending Committee on Academic Personnel [CAP] approval), and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He will assume the role of Director of Neurodevelopmental Genetics in the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute.

On March 4, 2015, Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary created the Endowment for Neuroscience, a pool of funds to help researchers and clinicians at the Rady Pediatric Genomics and Systems Medicine Institute translate research discoveries into improved patient care. The Endowed Directorship created by this fund will support the work and vision of Dr. Gleeson.

Media Contact:
Ben Metcalf
(858) 966-8579
bmetcalf@rchsd.org

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego:

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is a 520-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial Counties. Rady Children’s is the only hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all ten pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. For more information, visit www.rchsd.org and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.