Last year Hollywood unleashed woman of action Erin Brockovich, and won the Academy Award for its star, Julia Roberts.
Next month, the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) will honor the real Brockovich at the Sixth Annual Women of Action 2001 luncheon banquet on Aug. 8. Brockovich's boss, attorney Ed Masry, will present the woman who valiantly took on an entire corporation with ICRF's "Woman of the Year" award.
In addition to honoring Brockovich, ICRF will celebrate the achievements of four other individuals who have contributed to the betterment of both science and society.
The award ceremony will salute Dr. Alexandra Levine, medical director of USC/Norris Cancer Hospital and chief of the hematology division, who worked with Dr. Jonas Salk in the development of an AIDS vaccine; California Real Estate Commissioner Paula Reddish Zinneman, the first woman in the state to hold the position; Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel; and Israeli singer Hedva Amrani Danoff (wife of Dr. Dudley Danoff, an ICRF board member). The luncheon, along with an annual racetrack event and winter ball, is a major fundraising opportunity benefiting ICRF's cause. Overseeing the event will be Jacqueline Bell, chairwoman of the board of ICRF's L.A. chapter, and Dorothy Chitkov, its vice president.
The achievements of the ICRF itself are worth countless accolades. Since its inception in 1975, the New York-based ICRF, an organization with branches all over North America, has supported research at the 20 major institutions in Israel, including Bar-Ilan, Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv Universities, Hadassah, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Sheba Medical Center and the Technion. Over almost three decades, ICRF has raised $24 million toward cancer research.
Just this year, doctors supported by ICRF developed Gleevic, a wonder drug for leukemia and rare stomach cancers.
Past achievements have included the application of the p53 protein as an inhibitor of the proliferation of disease cells; the hepatitis B vaccine for the treatment of liver cancer; and Doxil, which helps patients with cancer and AIDS.
ICRF relies on a board of 100 doctors who meet and review applications presented by Israeli scientists to determine who will receive research money. Last year, more than $50,000 was raised toward two fellowships. Chitkov, who herself once suffered from Hodgkin's disease, said that 100 percent of the contributions sent to Israel by ICRF is spent purely on research.
Right now, ICRF has an eye toward propelling its work into the next millennium. The L.A. Chapter recently formed Visions - the Next Generation, a new fundraising group composed of young professionals, ages 20-40, and headed by attorney, and ICRF board member Greg Bell. Visions' first outing will be a Monte Carlo Night on Sept. 8 at the Park Plaza Hotel in the Wilshire District.
And this year, the L.A. Chapter plans to double the $1-million tally raised last year.
"I'm a former cancer patient, and I came to this because my doctor told me to get involved. I was told to do it for four weeks, and that was eight years ago," Chitkov said with a laugh.
For more information on Israel Cancer Research Fund and Visions - The Next Generation, call (323) 651-1200.