Joseph Najbauer, Ph.D., from the City of Hope National Medical Center as well as the Beckman Research Institute, spoke about stem cell-based therapies for cancer to a packed room in Steven G. Mihaylo Hall Wednesday.
One of the main organizers of the event was David Dyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Biotechnology Studies’ (CABS) Program for Applied Biotechnology Studies at Cal State Fullerton, which hosted the event.
According to Dyer, CABS is meant to provide tools for protecting intellectual properties made on campus and finding an industrial partner to help that development grow.
Dyer champions several researchers in the center who are conducting important studies on a regular basis, some of which pertains to Najbauer’s subject for the seminar.
“We have some great people working in the biology department,” said Dyer. “Some people working on neuroscience, stem cells and microbiology applications too.”
Dyer said he has known Najbauer for 22 years and that he is a good friend who will share expertise with biology students who want to know about this groundbreaking science.
His favorite theme is working on applications of stem cells to mediate cancer, Dyer said.
Najbauer is a senior investigator at the City of Hope National Medical Center, a non-profit clinical research center, hospital and graduate medical school. U.S. News and World Report ranked the facility in Duarte, Calif. in the top 20 best hospitals for cancer treatment in the country.
“I was very honored when Dyer called me a month ago and invited me to speak here,” said Najbauer shortly before the seminar began.
Najbauer used pictures and graphs during a slideshow to explain his studies, including ones involving the cancer known as Glioblastoma.
This cancer is particularly aggressive and invasive, according to Najbauer, as those diagnosed often survive less than a year.
Najbauer says that by using stem cells, treatments can be delivered to the doorstep of the cancer cells, leading to more efficient battles against cancers such as Glioblastoma.
Even though Najbauer spoke about stem cells, he has an interest in a broad field of science. He was actually originally trained as a physicist, and studied biophysics at the University of Budapest.
Eventually, he settled at the City of Hope nine years ago for his scientific pursuits.
“I’ve always been interested in cancer research, and working at City of Hope gave me a great opportunity,” said Najbauer. “There was a young faculty member coming from Harvard University. Her name is Dr. Karen Aboody. She was building a lab, basically from scratch, at City of Hope and I was looking for a job. I was the first she hired.”
Raul Perez, 21, a biology major, attended the seminar and said he was grateful that Najbauer made an effort to make the subject easy to understand for undergraduates as well as those more experienced on the subject.
“It’s very important that we have people like him,” said Perez. “Without research, physicians would not be like they are today. They wouldn’t be able to do anything but wrap wounds. We need the research behind it. That’s the backbone of what medicine is today.”
Najbauer has only visited CSUF twice, but is already looking forward to his next visit.
“What I’ve seen, I really like it. It seems to me there’s a vibrant student life here,” Najbauer said.