Dr. Steven Jonas
Dr. Steven Jonas and a patient at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital put their handprints on a Hyundai during a celebration of Dr. Jonas receiving a $400,000 research grant. (Photo by Todd Cheney/UCLA Health)

Steven Jonas, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist breaking ground in the development of new technologies for pediatric cancer at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, has received a $400,000 Hyundai Scholar Hope grant from Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to curing childhood cancer.

The grant brings the total awarded by the organization to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to more than $2 million since 2010.

Jonas accepted the grant at a July 20 ceremony attended by Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health, CEO of UCLA Hospital System and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences; Sherin Devaskar, MD, executive chair of pediatrics; Theodore Moore, MD, chief of pediatric oncology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital; and Hyundai leadership; as well as physicians, researchers and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital patients.

More than a dozen young cancer patients being treated at UCLA participated in the program’s signature handprint ceremony, where they dipped their hands in paint and placed their handprints on a white 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the doctor’s lab coat.

This award will support Dr. Jonas, who is also an assistant professor of pediatric oncology, and his colleagues, whose research targets the development of liquid biopsy diagnostic tools that leverage nanotechnologies to monitor how pediatric cancers respond to treatments and their ability to metastasize.

Dr. Jonas has won two previous research grants from the organization: $300,000 in 2019 and $150,000 in 2017.

“Grants from Hyundai Hope on Wheels allow physician scientists and researchers to think outside the box – and truly have been a vehicle for change in the way we study and treat childhood cancer,” said Dr. Jonas, who, as an engineer, brought together his multidisciplinary research team from experts at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as well as other departments across the UCLA campus. “This grant will help us propel cancer research forward in a way that is meaningful to patients and families at UCLA and across the country.”

Dr. Jonas’ research colleagues include Sarah Dry, MD, chair, UCLA Pathology & Laboratory Medicine; Noah Federman, MD, director, Pediatric Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma Progam at UCLA; and Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, professor, and Yazhen Zhu, MD,PhD, assistant professor, both of the UCLA Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology.

Dr. Jonas is a member of the UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the California NanoSystems Institute, and the Eli and Edyth Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

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