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Founder of Pasadena’s Panda Inn Gifts City of Hope $100 Million For Cancer Research

Published on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 | 5:19 am

Andrew and Peggy Cherng. Andrew opened the first Panda Inn restaurant in East Pasadena in 1973. The Cherngs are co-founders and co-CEOs of Panda Express. [Courtesy photo]
Andrew and Peggy Cherng, philanthropists, co-founders and co-CEOs of Panda Express, have gifted City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States, $100 million to establish the Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology, a first-of-its-kind, national integrative oncology program. 

Andrew founded the Panda Inn restaurant in East Pasadena in 1973 with his father, Ming Tsai Cherng.

The gift is the largest donation the Panda Charitable Family Foundation has made to any organization. 

 “Panda Restaurant Group began 50 years ago [in Pasadena] with a vision to bring the best of Eastern and Western flavors and cultures together through food. In the same spirit, we hope the Cherng Family Center of Integrative Oncology becomes a model of bringing the best of Eastern and Western medicine together to unlock holistic healing for our communities,” said Peggy Cherng, Ph.D. “At Panda, one of our core values is giving and we are grateful to help establish, through this gift from the Panda Charitable Family Foundation, pioneering integrated cancer care to not only save lives, but improve the quality of life for cancer patients.”  

The gift, which will establish the Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope, is the largest single philanthropic contribution for cancer care in City of Hope history.

Integrative oncology is a whole-person approach to cancer care that draws from diverse cultures, particularly traditional Chinese medicine and other Eastern healing traditions. Rigorous research on Eastern therapies could result in evidence-based insights that fuel the development of more effective cancer medicines and care. 

“We are grateful for this gift, which will allow us to lead the way in integrative oncology and continue to pioneer compassionate medical innovation as we have done at City of Hope for more than 100 years,” said Robert Stone, CEO of City of Hope and the Helen and Morgan Chu Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair. “Innovative and holistic care is part of our culture and mission; we are committed to supporting and treating the whole patient — not just the cancer. I am honored that our cancer expertise, world-class research environment, national patient population, robust clinical trials program and compassionate ethos have prepared City of Hope to lead this work.”

Beginning in Southern California and eventually spanning the City of Hope national system, the Cherng Family Center’s work will be led by Richard T. Lee, M.D., Cherng Family Director’s Chair for the Center for Integrative Oncology at City of Hope and one of the nation’s top integrative oncology experts. City of Hope has more than 15 years of national leadership in supportive care medicine with researchers who continue to bring forth new, evidence-based standards for preventing and managing the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.

The Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology will advance the research, education and clinical care needed to ensure cancer patients and their doctors have access to safe, proven approaches in the following ways:

  • City of Hope will accelerate research, therapy development and clinical trials so scientists and physicians can develop evidence-based practices for cancer patients nationwide.
  • Education and training programs will address the shortage of knowledgeable clinicians in this field. Within the next year, City of Hope plans to create one of the first integrative oncology fellowships created and led by oncologists.
  • Programs will be piloted at City of Hope campuses in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. Experts will build scalable infrastructure and develop platforms to track clinical data to further scientific discovery and improve cancer patient outcomes. The benefits of integrative oncology will then be extended to patients throughout City of Hope’s national cancer care and research system.

“The Cherng Family Center for Integrative Oncology will be the epicenter of translational research, new drug development and holistic care that meets a pressing need for patients and enhances our connection to the diverse communities we serve,” said Edward S. Kim, M.D., M.B.A., vice physician-in-chief, City of Hope National Medical Center. “City of Hope is creating a new standard of care through a scientifically rigorous process. Our vision is to create an international destination for integrative oncology that transforms the way people with cancer receive care.”

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