Sanford-Burnham Gift Will Expedite Institution's 10-Year Strategic Vision

Aug 12, 2015 at 04:11 pm by Staff

In June, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) announced receipt of a $100 million gift from Conrad Prebys, a prominent San Diego developer, philanthropist, and Sanford-Burnham honorary trustee. His gift marks the largest donation ever made by Prebys and will be used to further implement the Institute's 10-year strategic vision to accelerate the delivery of innovative new treatments that will have a tangible impact on improving human health.

"A gift of this magnitude is significant in many ways," said Sanford-Burnham CEO Perry Nisen, MD, PhD. "It enables us to conduct translational research to advance laboratory discoveries and clinic-ready drug candidates further along the development pipeline, progressing toward therapies, preventions, and cures for patients who desperately need them. We're profoundly grateful to Conrad Prebys for this extraordinary gift."

At this time, Prebys' gift will not come to Lake Nona, but to the entire institute. Exact plans for how the funds will be allocated have not yet been made, said

Patrick Bartosch, a spokesperson for the Lake Nona site.

In recognition of Prebys' contribution, Sanford-Burnham will now bear his name, along with the other institute namesakes, T. Denny Sanford and Malin Burnham. Effective June 24, the new name is Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP).

"We're honored that Conrad Prebys' name is now part of ours," said Kristiina Vuori, MD, PhD, president of SBP. "He has a longstanding relationship with the institute and believes strongly in our mission. Nearly a decade ago, his first gift helped establish the infrastructure for drug discovery research. Today, Conrad's generosity will take us even further. We're in the golden age of biology, where advances in molecular biology, robotics, imaging, and many other technologies allow us to ask and answer previously impossible questions. Now more than ever, we have the capacity to speed up the process of moving medical research discoveries from bench to bedside."

SBP's plan to form more pharma and clinical partnerships to advance translational research discoveries that will have a tangible impact on human health is critical to philanthropists like Prebys as they consider which organizations to fund.

"When it comes to finding cures, Sanford-Burnham is the engine that will drive innovation," said Prebys. "I've been involved with the excellent researchers at the institute for many, many years. They're the best there is, and that excites me. If, through my support, I can shorten people's suffering, or extend their quality of life, that would give me unlimited pleasure and joy."

A native of South Bend, Ind., Prebys was raised in a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood, where few aspired to go to college. When he was eight years old, he developed a heart condition and was informed that he would lead a sedentary life. He focused on music as a future career choice.

The turning point in his life involved an inspirational teacher who exposed him to the arts and encouraged him to further his education. He was the first of five brothers to attend and graduate from Indiana University. In 1966, Prebys co-founded Progress Construction and Management Company, a developer of real estate enterprises in California and Texas.

Recognized by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of the "25 Most Generous People in America," Prebys has given more than $260 million to a variety of causes since 2005. His generosity has included capital and operating gifts to the Boys and Girls Clubs, San Diego Zoo, Old Globe Theatre, UC San Diego Music Centre, La Jolla Music Society, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Salk Institute, San Diego State University, San Diego Museum of Art, Masterpiece Theater, and SBP.

Prebys previously donated $11 million to the institute, including $10 million in 2009 to support the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics.

His investment in the ultra-high-throughput chemical screening center helped establish the drug discovery platform that's critical to Sanford-Burnham's new emphasis on advancing laboratory discoveries to clinical study and gaining commercial interest in Institute assets.

Last year, SBP received a transformative $275 million gift from an anonymous donor. Including the Prebys gift, the institute has received more than $375 million toward a $500 million, 10-year fundraising goal.

Prebys' latest gift will help build sustainability for research and development, and further the institute's work in its focus disease areas of cancer, neuroscience, immunity, and metabolic disorders.

Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs more than 1,100 scientists and staff in La Jolla, Calif., and Lake Nona.


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