$1 million gift will support UCLA research on advanced lung disease

Philanthropists Michael and Linda Keston have made a gift of $1 million to the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The donation will support research into advanced lung disease and the UCLA Lung Health Research Initiative, which was launched in November. The initiative is focused on developing new treatments for lung disease and finding a way to prevent the body from rejecting donor organs — a major challenge for people who have received organ transplants.

“The Kestons’ contribution will enable our faculty to pursue innovative research that will eventually lead to new treatments to the benefit of countless patients,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health.

The gift will support a five-year study by the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in chronic organ transplant rejection. The research will focus on the function of chemokines, proteins that send signals that stimulate cells to attack a foreign body such as a transplanted organ. The subject is a key question in organ transplant medicine because long-term survival after a transplant largely depends on preventing the body’s immune response from treating the new organ as a harmful foreign object.

UCLA researchers hope that a clearer understanding of chronic organ rejection will ultimately enable transplant patients to live longer, healthier lives without the prolonged use of immunosuppressive medications.

“Linda and I know the risks of lung transplants,” said Michael Keston, who received a lung transplant at UCLA in 2009. “Fortunately, we also know about the rewards. We are committed to helping UCLA researchers find ways to help a body accept a new lung so patients can have vital, productive lives.”

The donation is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

Michael Keston, a philanthropist and business leader, is chairman and CEO of KFG Investment Company, a privately owned real estate investment company that he joined in 1970. He serves on the USC Price School of Public Policy board of councilors. Linda Keston, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is a member of the Association of Child Development Specialists and serves on the board of Echo Parenting and Education. The Kestons have devoted significant philanthropic support to education, medical research and community organizations.

“It is the vision of philanthropists like Linda and Michael that lays the groundwork for breakthroughs,” said Dr. Steven Dubinett, professor and chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, and the Geffen School’s associate vice chancellor for research and senior associate dean for translational research. “This important donation will create new opportunities for discoveries that meet the challenges involved in advanced lung disease and transplantation.”

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