UCLA Neurosurgery Honors Sidney Kimmel for Advancing Cancer Research

The Visionary Award Will be Given at the Annual Fundraising Gala

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| Source: UCLA Department of Neurosurgery

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 16, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sidney Kimmel, a nationally renowned philanthropic leader in cancer research, will receive the Visionary Award at the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery annual fundraising gala. Kimmel's lifelong mission and contributions of more than $550 million have supported cancer research centers and scientists pushing the boundaries in their fields to help millions of people battling cancer.

Each year, the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery selects luminaries in their respective fields to be recognized at the annual Visionary Ball that will take place this year on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Proceeds from the event will benefit neurosurgical research and education.

Kimmel is the chairman and founder of The Jones Group, a producer of such well-known brands as Jones New York, Nine West, Anne Klein and Stuart Weitzman. His dedication to philanthropy is equaled by a passion for arts and entertainment. At the helm of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, he brought recently released evocative films such as "The Kite Runner", "United 93" and "The Lincoln Lawyer" to the silver screen.

"We're honored to cast the spotlight on a behind-the-scenes visionary of cancer research," said Dr. Neil Martin, Chairman of the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery. "Sidney Kimmel's support has made medical miracles happen through building new research centers across the country and seeding researchers like our very own Dr. Linda Liau, who is now renowned for her work in developing promising brain cancer vaccines."

Dr. Liau received a grant from the Kimmel Scholars Program in 2003 to advance her research at UCLA into novel therapies for treating brain cancer. Today, Liau is using vaccines to extend the lives of patients with a terminal prognosis of less than a year. Her patients have been living with the help of the vaccine treatment for more than six years. As director of UCLA's Brain Tumor Program, she heads a leading research team using cellular immunotherapy that trains the body's own immune system to destroy brain tumors. Her team is also experimenting with cutting-edge technologies such as vault nanoparticles for use as non-invasive delivery methods of customized treatments. These non-toxic therapies don't destroy healthy tissue or disturb function in the brain like conventional cancer treatments.

Kimmel has given birth to the next generation of cancer researchers. The Kimmel Scholars Program has supported nearly 220 scientists to date. Each year 15 promising researchers, in their first post-training investigations, receive funding from the program. The scholars are selected by a panel of world-renowned researchers and leaders in the field of cancer research. In addition to Dr. Liau, Kimmel Scholar awards have been given to four other UCLA researchers: Daniel Kamei, Roger Lo, Kathrin Plath and Dinesh Rao.

His philanthropic vision has shaped how our country deals with cancer. Kimmel has lobbied for government funding in the 1998 March to Conquer Cancer in Washington and given charitable donations that led to building some of the most prominent research and patient care centers across America. Leading research centers for cancer at Johns Hopkins University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Thomas Jefferson University honor his gifts by bearing his name. More recently, he has set an example by pledging $25 million to the Stand Up to Cancer campaign.

Closer to his hometown of Philadelphia where his parents taught him how to give during the Great Depression, Kimmel honors their legacy with critical donations to arts and cultural organizations and Jewish education and continuity programs. His lead gifts brought to life the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the new National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall. Kimmel is a titan in the world of cancer research; his vision, leadership and support can be felt throughout the country.

To purchase tickets or make a donation, please contact Grant Associates at (323) 904-4400. For all other inquires, please contact Elaine Schmidt at eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu or visit www.visionaryball.org.

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Gemma Cunningham
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