An Inspirational Evening with Giants of Science and the American Cancer Society

Samantha Harris, Tarek El Moussa and Simone I Smith

Samantha Harris, Tarek El Moussa and Simone I Smith (Photo credit: Michael Bezjian)

They call them Giants of Science, the brilliant and talented people whose research work is the foundation of fighting cancer from all angles – including early detection programs and innovations in treatment. But of course, the ultimate goal is eradicating the disease.


The American Cancer Society’s Giants of Science gala, honoring seven such researchers, was a night of celebration, discovery and gratitude held at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills October 14.


Television personality Samantha Harris, who is also a cancer survivor, hosted the evening, which featured a silent auction and a live auction conducted by Andrew Firestone.


Among the items auctioned off to benefit the American Cancer Society were a Golden Globes gifting suite experience, an adventure to Shanghai, a Celine Dion meet and greet concert experience, a Will & Grace experience, a Mikimoto diamond and pearl necklace and earring set and a Dodgers luxury suite experience– for next season. (And, Go Dodgers in this post-season!)

Tarek El Moussa

Flip or Flop’s Tarek El Moussa (Photo credit: Michael Bezjian)

Just like LA’s hometown team, there were many moments of inspiration during the gala including a speech by Tarek El Moussa. At the age of 31, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when a viewer of his show, HGTV’s Flip or Flop, noticed something about his enlarged thyroid and advised him to get it checked out. If that diagnosis as a result wasn’t disheartening enough, testing also revealed that he had testicular cancer. Yet after a long healing process and adjusting his medications, Tarek told the audience he is cancer-free and feeling great. He looked great as well!


Another inspiration was Simone I. Smith, ACS’s global ambassador and the wife of hip hop legend and actor LL Cool J. After surviving a rare form of bone cancer in 2004,  she launched an eponymous jewelry collection, with a portion of the proceeds from every piece sold going directly to the American Cancer Society. Smith was honored with the Devotion Award.


The esteemed scientists, all PhD’s, that were honored were Inder M. Verma of the Salk Institute, Thomas Graeber of UCLA, Guillaume F. Chanfreau of UCLA, Sarah E. Reisman (California Institute of Technology) and  Mei Kong and Sunita K. Patel of City of Hope Medical Center.


Author: Hillary Atkin

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