Philanthropist Conrad Prebys Donates $10 Million for Drug Discovery

Released: 1/29/2009 1:55 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
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Newswise — San Diego philanthropist Conrad Prebys will donate $10 million to Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) to support the activities of Burnham's drug discovery center, which is part of the world's largest public drug discovery effort. Previously known as the Burnham Center for Chemical Genomics (BCCG), the newly renamed Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (CPCCG) comprises a multi-disciplinary, collaborative group of scientists at Burnham, who are working with some of the most sophisticated drug discovery technology outside of the pharmaceutical industry.

"Conrad Prebys understands the power and importance of this highly productive public/private partnership. His gift will enable us to advance discoveries farther and faster," said Dr. John Reed, president & CEO, professor and Donald Bren Presidential Chair at Burnham.

Currently housed at Burnham's La Jolla campus, the center will soon extend its capabilities and operations with a new state-of-art facility in Orlando, Florida where Burnham's east coast campus will open in the spring. Burnham's bi-coastal drug discovery center will be known as the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at both locations. When both facilities are fully operational, CPCCG will be capable of screening more than two million chemical compounds per day in order to discover novel prototypes for the next generation of medicines.

"I want to accelerate moving discoveries through to the patient. The idea of saving just one life is remarkable, but the opportunity to use this technology to find cures that will affect millions of people, that's incredible." says Prebys, a successful real estate investor. "The thing that attracted me to Burnham is the organization. It seems like it's being run like a well-oiled machine."

In September 2008, Burnham was awarded a $98 million grant to establish one of four comprehensive screening centers as part of the National Institute of Health's (NIH) Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN). The network allows scientists from around the country to use the expertise and resources of the screening centers to identify possible drug candidates.

"I am personally grateful for Conrad's grasp of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research's mission and for his notably generous support of the Institute and many other deserving causes. It really shows what one man can do to help the human condition," said Malin Burnham, chair of the Institute's board of trustees.

About Conrad Prebys
One of San Diego's most generous philanthropists, Conrad Prebys is president of Progress Construction and Management Company, a real estate firm he founded in 1966. He develops, owns and manages apartments, condominiums and homes, as well as other facilities in San Diego County. A native of South Bend, Indiana, Prebys was raised in a neighborhood where most of the residents worked in local factories. Encouraged by an inspirational teacher, he was the first of five brothers to graduate from Indiana University. Prebys operated a pizzeria near the University of Notre Dame for several years before moving to San Diego and beginning his career in real estate. He had less than $500 and the clothes on his back when he moved here. Conrad Prebys has built a legacy of generosity throughout San Diego. The Prebys name is featured as part of the important work being done at the San Diego Zoo, Old Globe Theater, University of California - San Diego, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Boys and Girls Club of East County and now the Burnham Institute for Medical Research.

About the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics
Where do new medicines come from? In the past, large pharmaceutical companies were solely responsible for most drug discovery. Due to high costs and pressures to "fill the pipeline" faster, pharmaceutical companies frequently move away from drug discovery efforts that are deemed risky, especially for "orphan" diseases that are unprofitable for investors. In 2005, the NIH announced a nine-year initiative to bridge the gap between basic research carried out in academic research laboratories and FDA approval of new medicines. The first step in the drug discovery process involves screening small molecules (chemicals) to determine their potential to produce innovative tools for use in biological research. The Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (CPCCG) at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research screens chemical compounds by the millions to find the few that could potentially be developed into new medicines. All of the results from CPCCG's activities are placed into a public database called PubChem, made available to all researchers, in both the public and private sector, for their use in studying biology and disease.

About Burnham Institute for Medical Research
Burnham Institute for Medical Research is dedicated to revealing the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Burnham, with operations in California and Florida, is one of the fastest growing research institutes in the country. The Institute ranks among the top four institutions nationally for NIH grant funding and among the top 25 organizations worldwide for its research impact. Burnham utilizes a unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, infectious and inflammatory and childhood diseases. The Institute is known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies. Burnham is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation.


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