WESTWOOD—A $1 million donation has been gifted to UCLA’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine by philanthropists Michael and Linda Keston, announced the UCLA Health Department on December 22.
The donation is part of the $4.2. billion UCLA Centennial Campaign that is scheduled to conclude during UCLA’s 100th anniversary in December 2019.
“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.”
According to a UCLA Health press release, the donation is set to support research into advanced lung disease and the UCLA Lung Health Research Initiative that was launched in November. The initiative is centered on developing new treatments for lung disease and finding a way to prevent the body from rejecting donor organs, which tends to be a major challenge for individuals who have received organ transplants.
“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,” states the press release.
“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.
With a clearer understanding of chronic organ rejection, UCLA researchers are hopeful that transplant patients will ultimately be able to live longer and 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 Kestons have dedicated their lives to significant philanthropic support in medical research, community organizations, and education, including a $3.5 million donation to create the first endowed directorship position at USC Viterbi’s Information Science Institute to diversify its research portfolio.
Michael Keston is chairman and CEO of KFG Investment Company, a privately owned real estate investment company he joined in 1970. He also serves on the USC Price School of Public Policy board of councilors.
Linda Keston is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a member of the Association of Child Development Specialists, and serves on the board of Echo Parenting and Education.