Caltech Grad Donates $100 Million to City of Hope’s Research Center

Dr. Arthur Riggs

City of Hope announced it has renamed its preeminent diabetes research center the Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute, in honor of its longtime director and research pioneer, who recently donated $100 million to the world renowned cancer treatment facility in Duarte.
Riggs’ scientific achievements include developing the technology that led to the first synthetic human insulin — a breakthrough that enabled mass production of insulin for people with diabetes. That discovery, which jumpstarted what is now a $500 billion global biotech industry, was followed by numerous firsts in the field of biomedical science. Today, synthetic insulin is used regularly by hundreds of millions of people.
Riggs, who earned his Ph.D from Caltech and is the Samuel Rahbar chair in Diabetes & Drug Discovery, also developed recombinant DNA technology capable of producing humanized monoclonal antibodies that are the foundation of modern treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, blindness and a host of other diseases. These therapies include trastuzumab (commercial name: Herceptin), rituximab (commercial name: Rituxan), pembrolizumab (commercial name: Keytruda) and many others that are some of the world’s most widely used cancer drugs.
“Arthur Riggs is a true visionary and a scientific giant,” Robert Stone, president and CEO of City of Hope and the Helen and Morgan Chu Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair, said in a news release. “Dr. Riggs has been essential to the institute’s growth and accomplishments over five decades, as a researcher, discoverer, mentor and major donor. His contributions to biomedical research have transformed the lives of countless people living with serious diseases and his mark on City of Hope is an indelible one that will continue on in the institute that now bears his name.”
At City of Hope, in addition to dedicating himself to scientific pursuits, Riggs has quietly contributed nearly all of the wealth from his discoveries to support leading-edge research toward the development of new treatments for the betterment of human health.
Over the past 30 years, Riggs has donated more than $310 million to City of Hope. His generosity culminated in a gift of $100 million in January that will help fund the continuation of research that has been his passion for more than half a century.
Until now, Riggs has insisted that his gifts remain anonymous so that any attention would not detract from his work. He elected to make his philanthropy public now in the hope of encouraging other donors to join City of Hope’s fight against diabetes and cancer, especially at a time when new therapeutic discoveries are needed more than ever.
“I came to City of Hope because the environment here offers exactly that — hope for people with diabetes, cancer and many other serious diseases,” Riggs said in a release. “I believe in the promise of our work at City of Hope so strongly that one day, probably sooner than most think, we’ll create a world without diabetes. Yet, we will realize the full potential of this important work only through the generosity of many other donors who will choose to join us.”
The Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute is one of the world’s foremost scientific organizations dedicated to investigating the biology of diabetes and its treatment.
“It has been a humbling honor to assume responsibility for this institute that Dr. Riggs so purposefully and painstakingly built,” said Debbie C. Thurmond, the institute’s recently appointed director. “It’s entirely fitting that it should carry his name as we carry on the work he began — for the benefit of people with diabetes. His philanthropy is an extension of the generosity of spirit he has shown to me and everyone else who has ever walked through these doors, and his impact will be with us for many years to come.”