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City of Hope’s Annual ‘Closing the Care Gap’ Event Underscores Commitment to Helping Eliminate Health Inequities

Music industry icons Lyor Cohen, 2023 City of Hope Spirit of Life® honoree, and Sylvia Rhone, 2019 Spirit of Life honoree, host leaders from across the music, film and entertainment industry to address the challenges underserved populations face in obtaining access to quality cancer care

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a leading research center for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses, held the third annual Closing the Care Gap event last night with its Music, Film and Entertainment Industry (MFEI) fundraising group. Hosted by music industry icons, Lyor Cohen, global head of Music at YouTube and Google, and Sylvia Rhone, chair and CEO of Epic Records, the event brought together industry professionals and influencers to inspire, educate and support opportunities to achieve access to the best treatment and care available for all people facing cancer.

“Too many people needlessly suffer due to lack of access to the latest medical innovations and systemic barriers that prevent them from getting the best cancer care,” said John Carpten, Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, director of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, chief scientific officer and the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair. “At City of Hope, we are working to carry out solutions that increase the likelihood that every person living with cancer — regardless of race or region — can get the best care.”

Only 20% of cancer patients in the U.S. are treated at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like City of Hope. In addition, economically disadvantaged and racially diverse communities face additional barriers that limit their ability to find and sustain specialized, lifesaving care.

The event, hosted at the Los Angeles home of real estate agent and TV personality Josh Flagg, fostered key interactions among health care experts, entertainment industry professionals, key leaders in the music community and past Spirit of Life honorees, including Kevin Liles, CEO at 300 Entertainment, Jody Gerson, CEO at Universal Music Publishing Group, past Spirit of Life honoree Rob Light, head of music at CAA, Debra Lee, former CEO at BET, Danielle Price Sanders, executive vice president at Republic Records, Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, CEO of 50/50 Music Group Management, and American songwriter Justin Tranter, among others.

The program was dedicated to addressing challenges patients face in obtaining access to quality health care, preventive mobile screening, early disease detection, and personalized or precision medicine.

With an introduction from Evan Lamberg, president at Universal Music Publishing Group and MFEI board president, Jonathan Azu, founder and CEO of Culture Collective and MFEI board member, set the tone for the evening, shedding light on his personal battle against cancer. After a baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, Azu was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 44 years old. Having grown up in a family of medical professionals, Azu recognizes he had resources and access to health care that many do not, so he wants to help people who are not as fortunate.

“I am one of the blessed ones − I remember that every day,” Azu said. “I am now dedicated more than ever to assisting the Division of Health Equities at City of Hope in more early screening education and better access to health care for people who look like me.”

Cohen took the stage next. Over the course of his 40-year career in hip-hop, Cohen, who was named this year’s City of Hope Spirit of Life honoree, has become familiar with the disadvantages that underrepresented populations face.

“The more you give, the more you receive. And today we are all in the business of giving – of our time, our influence, our connections and experiences,” Cohen said. “It’s our responsibility to do the work to close the care gap. We need to provide access to early detection with routine screenings and better treatment, and of course, resources and education that help increase health equity.” 

City of Hope is poised to treat more cancer patients across the nation and support the needs of a more diverse patient population through partnerships, policy efforts, continued clinical expansion across the country and innovative care delivery options.

Gail Mitchell, executive director of R&B/Hip-Hop at Billboard magazine, spoke with Carpten and Azu in a fireside chat-style interview.

“The music industry has the potential to make a monumental impact on the health of the Black community,” Mitchell said.

Added Rhone, “I’m grateful to have the privilege to help solve these challenges with our industry and give everyone fighting cancer the hope they deserve.”

Kristin Bertell, chief philanthropy officer at City of Hope, concluded the program. “You are part of the movement,” said Bertell of the guests. “Your philanthropic partnership supports us in removing obstacles to care for everyone. We cannot cure cancer if we don’t cure it for all.”

Closing the Care Gap continues a year-long fundraising initiative for City of Hope that will conclude with MFEI’s Spirit of Life Gala, which will honor Cohen for his noble contributions to the music industry community and profession. The gala will celebrate 50 years of philanthropic partnership with MFEI on Oct. 18, 2023, at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles.

Flagg, who housed the event, and his family are longtime philanthropic supporters of City of Hope. The event is supported by the Closing the Care Gap Event Committee, including Azu, event chair, Kathy Baker, Tuma Basa, Vivien Lewit, Danielle Price Sanders, Willie “Prophet” Stiggers and Michelle Williams.

For updates and sponsorship information, please email [email protected]

For photo highlights of the evening, please use the following link:
(Photo Credit: Getty Images for City of Hope)

About City of Hope
City of Hope’s mission is to deliver the cures of tomorrow to the people who need them today. Founded in 1913, City of Hope has grown into one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S. and one of the leading research centers for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. City of Hope research has been the basis for numerous breakthrough cancer medicines, as well as human synthetic insulin and monoclonal antibodies. With an independent, National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center at its core, City of Hope brings a uniquely integrated model to patients spanning cancer care, research and development, academics and training, and innovation initiatives. City of Hope’s growing national system includes its Los Angeles campus, a network of clinical care locations across Southern California, a new cancer center in Orange County, California, and treatment facilities in Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix. City of Hope’s affiliated group of organizations includes Translational Genomics Research Institute and AccessHope™. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram and LinkedIn.

About Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen is an American music industry executive who has helped shape the evolution of the music business over the course of his career and is currently the global head of Music at YouTube and Google.

As a 21-year-old living in New York City working for Rush Productions, Cohen felt the power and pull of the arts and the cultural movement being built around rap and hip-hop music; it was all about inclusivity, not exclusivity. From his time as road manager for Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, to developing the prestige of Def Jam Recordings and selling it to Universal, to managing Island, Mercury and Def Jam, which he merged to create the Island Def Jam Music Group, to becoming the chairman and CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group (WMG) and then co-founding 300, Cohen’s career has been dedicated to advocating for artists and songwriters, uplifting art and proving to the world that music brings us together more than it separates us. Along the way, Cohen has been intimately involved in the careers of over 100 artists from day one through superstardom.

Cohen sits on the board of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Independent Venue Association, and is an acting director for SCAN-Harbor, a New York-based charity.

About City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry Group
Inspired by the guiding humanitarian principles of City of Hope and motivated by the institution’s commitment to innovative medical research and compassionate patient care, a group of key industry executives founded City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry group in 1973.

In its 50-year history, the group has raised over $135 million for City of Hope and has honored some of the most important figures in the music and entertainment industry.

The Spirit of Life Award is City of Hope’s most prestigious honor and is presented to an esteemed community of industry leaders around the world who have made a significant commitment to improving the lives of others through the advancement of research and clinical innovation and the delivery of personalized, compassionate care.

Past honorees include Shelli and Irving Azoff, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Coran Capshaw, Eddy Cue, Clive Davis, Sir Lucian Grainge, Allen Grubman, Quincy Jones, Rob Light, Monte and Avery Lipman, Doug Morris, Mo Ostin, Bob Pittman, Jon Platt and Sylvia Rhone to name a few.

SOURCE City Of Hope

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