American Cancer Society honors Giants of Science

At the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills on October 14, the American Cancer Society held a lavish gala to honor

This year’s research honorees are Guillaume F. Chanfreau, PhD of UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center; Thomas Graeber, PhD, of UCLA; Mei Kong, PhD of City of Hope Cancer Center; Sunita K. Patel, PhD of City of Hope Medical Center; and Inder M. Verma, PhD of the Salk Institute. (Photo credit: Michael Bezjian)

the Giants of Science while raising money  for cancer research with a silent auction, dinner, and awards ceremony.

Giants of Science honored current research grant recipients whose work has been selected by a national committee for commendation, and individuals who have turned their private cancer experience into a public learning opportunity and furthered the Society’s attack on cancer from every angle. This year’s research honorees included Guillaume F. Chanfreau, PhD of UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center; Thomas Graeber, PhD, of UCLA; Mei Kong, PhD of City of Hope Cancer Center; Sunita K. Patel, PhD of City of Hope Medical Center; and Inder M. Verma, PhD of the Salk Institute.

Simone I. Smith, a thirteen-year cancer survivor and seven-year American Cancer Society global ambassador, continues to instill hope for all people suffering from cancer. Simone, wife to Hip Hop Legend LL Cool J, is making a difference within the cancer community by giving back through her jewelry collection. 

Samantha Harris, Tarek El Moussa, and Simone I. Smith attend the American Cancer Society Giants of Science Gala Honors at the Four Seasons Los Angeles. (Photo credit: Michael Bezjian)

The evening was chaired by Rachel Beller, MS, RDN, CEO and founder of Beller Nutrition Institute. California State Controller Betty Yee, honorary chair, and Emmy-nominated former Dancing with the Stars co-host Samantha Harris hosted the evening. Tarek El Moussa of Flip or Flop made a special appearance as the program’s Mission Speaker and Andrew Firestone fired up the room with his own passion for the cause by inspiring guests to raise their paddles and bid on grand prizes and research equipment for doctors’ labs in the fight against cancer.

Andrew Firestone and his wife. (Photo credit: Michael Bezjian)


The American Cancer Society is the nation’s largest not-for-profit investor in cancer research, second only to the federal government. Since 1946, it has funded more than $4.3 billion in cancer research, including the early work of 47 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Nationally, the Society currently funds 732 grants for more than $390 million, 95 of those – totaling almost $48 million – in California, including almost $21 million at five Los Angeles County institutions.

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