Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica announced Wednesday, January 17th, that actress Michele B. Chan, her husband Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and their family have committed $35 million to complete the building of an inpatient life science center and to begin development of a new Center for Translational Sciences. Translational science involves the conversion of basic science discoveries into the practical applications that benefit people.
Dr. Soon-Shiong is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Abraxis BioScience.
Saint John’s Health Center is naming the facility the Chan Soon-Shiong Center for Life Sciences to honor a $25 million grant from the couple to the Saint John’s Challenge to Lead Campaign.
An additional $10 million grant will be designated to develop a master plan for the hospital’s South Campus and the Chan Soon-Shiong Center for Translational Sciences, which will be developed subject to requisite approvals.
“We are extremely pleased to not only receive such a generous gift, but the recognition from such a prominent and accomplished medical researcher and surgeon and his family of the quality of our patient care and our commitment and leadership in translational medicine,” said Lou Lazatin, president and chief executive officer of Saint John’s Health Center. “Dr. Soon-Shiong’s work in cancer research is world renowned.
“The nano-technology behind Abraxane, the drug he developed for treatment of breast cancer, could revolutionize the way cancer is treated.”
Lazatin added that Soon-Shiong has agreed to add his expertise to the Health Center by serving as a trustee.
“There is an urgent need to address the serious health care issues facing our country and implement evidence-based treatments for life-threatening dis- eases such as cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart disease,” Soon-Shiong stated. “The campus at Saint John’s presents a unique opportunity to establish a platform to integrate cutting-edge, scientific breakthroughs with world-class patient care.
“With the explosion of scientific knowledge at the molecular level, it is now possible to identify biomarkers which are predictive of outcomes both in terms of prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases.
“The opportunity of executing an evolutionary change in the practice of medicine by converting the clinical decision making process from a reactive, empiric and qualitative approach to one of a quantitative, predictive, personalized nature, is currently at hand. “To expedite this transformational change in medicine, there is an urgent need to converge at a single campus multidisciplinary basic scientists, including computer scientists, engineers, physicists and molecular biologists with world-class physicians and surgeons.
“The opportunity to execute such a personalized medicine approach by converging the best of bio-informatics, with nano-technology, molecular biology, biotechnology and medicine may transform how new technologies are discovered and indeed may transform the delivery of health care in our country.
“With Saint John’s mission of compassionate care for their patients and their commitment to translational medicine — rapidly moving discovery from the bench to clinical practice — it is a privilege for Michele and me to make this gift.
“It is Michele’s hope and mine that through our gift, Saint John’s will be able to expand and continue its efforts in these important areas and ultimately create a model which will, in Santa Monica, combine the medical prowess of world-class physicians and surgeons with the technological strengths of bio-informatics.”
Lazatin added, “The research initiative spearheaded by Dr. Soon-Shiong, Michele B. Chan and their family will enable us to bring world-class faculty, basic scientists, surgeons and clinicians who are proud and honored to be associated with Saint John’s.
“An important aspect of this bold vision will be development of a dynamic venue for translational research, including the groundbreaking work of the John Wayne Cancer Research Institute.
“Once realized, this venue will be the nerve center of collaborations with great academic institutions throughout Los Angeles and the world.
“Together we will create the Chan Soon-Shiong Center for Translational Sciences at Saint John’s that we believe will be unparalleled anywhere in the world. In doing so, we will create new modalities for treating disease and establish a model for other translational initiatives in bioscience medicine,” she said.
“Thanks to Michele and Patrick’s extraordinary generosity, Saint John’s will be able to unite its healing ministry of providing compassionate care to the whole person with today’s medical imperative of rapidly translating innovation from the scientist’s laboratory to the patient’s bedside.”
Chan said, “As the wife of a physician for some 28 years now, I know first-hand that the attitude of patients can profoundly affect the outcome of medical treatments.
“In the future, the synergy between the Center for Translational Sciences and the warm, caring and dignified setting of the inpatient Center for Life Sciences, with its gardens, and welcoming atmosphere, will be an important part of the patient healing process.
“Patrick and I feel blessed that we can make this gift to help improve care and find new ways to cure disease. Saint John’s is a wonderful facility, staffed by outstanding doctors, nurses and others. We are thrilled to become part of their family.”
In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Saint John’s Health Center is rebuilding the entire health center campus, which includes inpatient and medical buildings, surgical centers and research facilities.