Torrance research institute celebrates scientific discoveries, saving lives with Rose Parade float

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- For the first time, the Lundquist Institute will have a float in the Pasadena Rose Parade. The local research institute is celebrating its 70th anniversary of using scientific discoveries to save lives.

The volunteers decorating the float will also be riding it. Their lives were saved by Lundquist and doctors like Emil Kakkis.

"I think it's a great opportunity to show how amazing things and how positive things happen in medical research to save patients," said Dr. Kakkis.

According to Dr. Kakkis, he helped save volunteer Ryan Dant. Dant was three years old when he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and was told he wouldn't live past 12. But thanks to Dr. Kakkis and Lundquist, Dant is now 33.

"Kids like Ryan are missing a gene that expresses an enzyme ... since he couldn't make that enzyme for himself we built that enzyme," said Dr. Kakkis. "So, basically it's enzyme replacement therapy."

Dant said he is grateful for Dr. Kakkis and Lundquist.

"It's amazing to see how far my life has changed since then," said Dant. "I am really happy with where my life is at. My wife and I, we recently just got married in July of this year. Our future is very bright for us."

Both Dr. Kakkis and Dant will be riding on the Lundquist Institute float side-by-side, along with other doctors who saved other patients' lives.

"I think it's amazing to get on a world stage with Ryan," said Dr. Kakkis. "The kid that inspired me to work on this research and to show the world that we can take on these impossible projects."

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never be able to thank him or the Lundquist Institute enough for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this parade," said Dant.

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