UCLA physician scientists awarded $500,000 for pediatric cancer research

Drs. Scott Nowicki and Steven Jonas during Hyundai Hope on Wheels event at UCLA
Dr. Theodore Scott Nowicki, left, and Dr. Steven Jonas, hold a $500,000 check from Hyundai Hope on Wheels, which will support each physician-scientist’s pediatric cancer research. (Photo: Nick Carranza/UCLA Health)

Two UCLA doctors have received grants totaling $500,000 to fund research into treatments for pediatric cancer from Hyundai Hope On Wheels.

These grants include a $200,000 Hyundai Young Investigator Award to Dr. Theodore Scott Nowicki and a $300,000 Scholar Hope Grant to Dr. Steven Jonas. Since 2010, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital has received $1.3 million in grants from the Hyundai organization.

Jonas, Nowicki, and members of hospital leadership accepted the grants at a ceremony with Hyundai leadership and children, who are patients at the hospital, and their families. During the event at the hospital on Sept. 16, children participated in the program’s signature handprint ceremony, where they dipped their hands in paint and placed their handprints on a white 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and the doctors’ lab coats.

Nowicki, a clinical instructor of pediatric hematology/oncology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, plans to use his grant to continue research on regenerative cell therapy.

Jonas, who is also a clinical instructor of pediatric hematology/oncology, plans to continue his development of a 3-D printer that would create patient-specific cancer models to make individualized treatment plans.

“This funding provides critical support for physician-scientists, like me, who are in their beginning stages of their research careers,” Jonas said.

Said Nowicki: “We have accomplished so much since Hyundai began investing in pediatric cancer research in 1998. Back then, no one would have believed we would be using cell therapy as a treatment option for pediatric cancer.”

Jonas and Nowicki also are members at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a non-profit organization started by Hyundai Motor America, was started in 1998 to find a cure for childhood cancer.