LA BioMed Honors Legends and Celebrates Life-saving Therapy – Event Recognized Drs. David Heber and Ronald J. Nelson

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) honored two of its legendary physician-researchers Wednesday night and celebrated the 10th anniversary of the federal approval of a life-saving therapy developed at the institute.

Guests at the 10th Annual Legends event at Palos Verdes Golf Club celebrated the lives and legacies of David Heber, MD, PhD, and Ronald J. Nelson, MD, both of whom remembered fondly their early years at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

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Guests also attended a reception to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the government’s approval of Aldurazyme® (laronidase), an enzyme replacement therapy developed at LA BioMed. Aldurazyme has saved the lives of hundreds of children born with a devastating genetic disorder, mucopolysaccharidosis 1, or MPS 1. The reception celebrated the role of Biomarin and Genzyme LLC in bringing Aldurazyme to market, as well as the contributions of the MPS I patients and families, laboratory staff and clinicians.

“This year’s Legends event was a very special one with the tributes to the extraordinary achievements of Drs. Heber and Nelson and to LA BioMed scientists, as well as honoring Biomarin and Genzyme for their contributions to a therapy that has saved the lives of young people born with MPS1,” said David I. Meyer, PhD, LA BioMed president and CEO. “We were privileged to have some of those young people join us Wednesday night, and it is thrilling to see the difference LA BioMed research has made in their lives.”

Colleagues shared their admiration for Dr. Heber, the founding director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and founding chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition in the Department of Medicine, and for Dr. Nelson, who retired in 1998 from his position as the director of cardiac surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

Dr. Heber has conducted extensive research into obesity treatment and nutrition for cancer prevention and treatment. He has written more than 225 peer-reviewed scientific articles and more than 80 book chapters. He’s also authored six books. Dr. Nelson had previously served as the chief of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he participated in many pioneering surgical procedures, including the first heart transplant in Southern California.

LA BioMed also honored two of its faculty members: Brad J. Spellberg, MD, an infectious disease specialist, and Harry B. Rossiter, PhD. Dr. Spellberg received the Richard E. Weitzman Memorial Prize for Meritorious Research in the Biomedical Sciences. He was recognized for his research into vaccines and immunotherapies to treat and prevent highly drug-resistant bacterial infections.

Harry B. Rossiter, PhD, received the LA BioMed Young Investigator award for his scholarship and research, which is seeking a better understanding of the control and limitation of oxygen transport and utilization during exercise.