Chao Family Commitment

The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of just 48 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and the only one in Orange County. UC Irvine Health

Chao family fights cancer with $5 million gift to UC Irvine Health

Noted leukemia researchers to receive endowed chairs established by donation

The UC Irvine Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center will honor renowned leukemia researchers Richard Van Etten, M.D., Ph.D., and Susan O’Brien, M.D., with endowed chairs made possible by a $5 million gift from Chao family siblings Allen Chao, Agnes Kung, Phylis Hsia and Richard Chao and their spouses. The generous donation also provides for pioneering investigations into blood cancers and cancers with hereditary links.

“An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a faculty member can receive,” said Dr. Howard Federoff, vice chancellor of UC Irvine Health Affairs. “In the medical arena, the endowment can have global impact by providing time and resources for clinical research and trials. We are indeed grateful to the Chao family for their gift enabling this recognition of two very talented physicians whose work could very well lead to major breakthroughs in cancer care.”

Van Etten, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be awarded the Chao Family Endowed Director’s Chair in Cancer Research & Treatment. He is recognized internationally for groundbreaking research on chronic myeloid leukemia that spurred the development of drugs targeting an abnormal protein to address this disease. Previously, a bone marrow transplant had been patients’ main recourse.

As the cancer center’s associate director for clinical science and medical director of the Sue & Ralph Stern Center for Cancer Clinical Trials & Research, O’Brien oversees and coordinates clinical cancer research across UC Irvine Health. She will be named to the Chao Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Clinical Science. Her extensive expertise in clinical cancer research includes leadership roles in clinical trials that introduced many new treatments for chronic and acute lymphoid leukemia.

Research funded by the chairs will focus initially on supporting infrastructure for a new UC Irvine Health program in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a therapy for blood cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma and lymphoma. The program would provide Orange County residents convenient access to this critical treatment method and open the door to clinical studies designed to improve the HSCT process and outcomes. Read more.