UC Irvine Health’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center said two new leukemia endowed research chairs would be named through a $5 million gift from the Chao family.
The donation is from Chao family siblings Allen Chao, Agnes Kung, Phylis Hsia and Richard Chao and their spouses. The new endowed chairs honor researchers Richard Van Etten and Susan O’Brien.
Van Etten directs the cancer center and will hold the new the Chao Family Endowed Director’s Chair in Cancer Research & Treatment. Van Etten’s research on chronic myeloid leukemia spurred drug development targeting an abnormal protein involved in the disease; a bone marrow transplant had previously been primary treatment method.
O’Brien oversees clinical cancer research across UC Irvine Health as the cancer center’s associate director for clinical science and medical director of the Sue & Ralph Stern Center for Cancer Clinical Trials & Research. She gets the new Chao Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Clinical Science. Her research includes trails that led to new treatment for chronic and acute lymphoid leukemia.
The Chao siblings’ gift is also expected to go toward research into blood cancers and cancers with hereditary links. Future efforts will look at genetic links to cancer—such as how genetic mutations can lead to the disease and ways to spot potential conditions before symptoms appear.
Up to 10 percent of cancers come from inherited gene defects, or mutations, the American Cancer Society says.
UC Irvine Health is the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California-Irvine. It includes the 411-bed UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange and physician offices in OC.
Chao family members have given about $30 million to UC Irvine Health, beginning in the mid-1990s.
Allen Chao is chief executive of Tanvex BioPharma Inc. in Irvine and cofounded Watson Pharmaceuticals, a maker of generic drugs which, after a series of acquisitions and name-changes, became part of Allergan Plc; Allergan sold its generics division to Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in the first quarter of 2016 for $40.5 billion.