Professor Donald Kohn to speak Jan. 18 on the use of stem cells to combat disease

Media Contact

Stuart Wolpert
Donald Kohn, a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, will present the first lecture in the "Year of the New Life Sciences at UCLA" series on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
 
His talk, titled "Bone Marrow Stem Cells: Developing New Therapies in the Fight Against Disease," will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the CNSI Auditorium at UCLA, between Boelter Hall and Life Sciences–La Kretz Hall.
 
To attend for free, please R.S.V.P. at www.lifescienceslectures.support.ucla.edu.
 
More than 1,000 diseases are the result of defects in just a single gene, according to Kohn. Can a normal gene be added to a patient's stem cells to address these defects? Can a damaged gene be repaired? Gene therapy, although experimental, holds great promise for the treatement of such diseases, he said.
 
Kohn and his research group focus on developing new therapies for genetic diseases of the blood cells using gene therapy methods to correct hematopoietic stem cells. His laboratory performs studies on gene transfer, expression and immune response and then translates the findings into clinical trials.
 
Kohn uses patients' own bone marrow stem cells to develop and apply gene therapy methods for disorders in which the immune system is severely compromised or does not exist. He is exploring gene therapy for sickle cell disease, immunotherapy to treat leukemia and cancer, and stem cell applications to address diabetes.
 
Kohn's group led the first clinical trial of gene therapy for newborns for a type of severe combined immunodeficiency disorder commonly known as "bubble-baby disease" and also led the first gene therapy trials for pediatric HIV/AIDS.
 
Kohn is former president of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.
 
"UCLA's Life Sciences are transforming the nature of discovery in the 21st century," said Victoria Sork, dean of the UCLA Life Sciences Division. "The 'new life sciences' provide the foundations for understanding biomedical innovations, applied human health problems and biodiversity challenges facing our planet, and this research will lead to improvements in how we live. At UCLA, we are analyzing systems as a whole, not just one piece of the puzzle."
 
For information on future lectures in the series, visit www.lifescienceslectures.support.ucla.edu.
Media Contact:
Stuart Wolpert