Newswise — LA JOLLA, Calif., and ORLANDO, Fla., January 28, 2014—Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) today announced that its Board of Trustees has approved a new 10-year strategic vision to accelerate the Institute’s impact on improving human health. The vision will fortify Sanford-Burnham’s leadership of an emerging 21st-century research model that encourages innovation by aligning basic biomedical research, translational research, and drug discovery and development.

“Our ultimate goal is to translate basic research discoveries into innovative therapeutics that have a tangible impact on people’s lives,” said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham president and interim CEO. “Our strategic vision will enable us to speed cures to patients through an expanded network of partnerships with organizations that share our mission to conquer disease.”

Sanford-Burnham will accelerate the pursuit of novel insights into the fundamental mechanisms of human biology and disease, and development of innovative, personalized therapeutic approaches past the conventional point where nonprofit institutes hand off their scientific discoveries. Existing and new partnerships with healthcare organizations such as Mayo Clinic, Florida Hospital, and Sanford Health will foster two-way communication between basic and clinical researchers to inform each partner’s research and ensure that basic science is grounded in clinical reality. Building on its 37-year expertise in basic research and human biology, the Institute will accelerate the pace of its biomedical discoveries and is exploring innovative team-based concepts—Integrated Disease Teams and Diversified Translational Laboratories—which bring together basic research and clinical investigators to address unmet medical needs. The goal is to rapidly gauge the relevance of laboratory findings for curing or preventing human disease.

Further, Sanford-Burnham will more vigorously pursue research breakthroughs into the realm of therapeutics development by leveraging its small-molecule drug discovery platform—the most advanced in the nonprofit research world. The Institute will refine drug candidates through pre-clinical validation to facilitate stronger partnerships with pharmaceutical companies such as those that currently exist with Takeda, Pfizer, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. This more robust therapeutics-discovery engine is expected to generate future revenue for the Institute by partnering with the commercial sector.

“Our independence, agility, and collaborative culture are especially attractive to partners who share our commitment to high-yield research,” said Gregory T. Lucier, chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees and chairman and CEO of Life Technologies. “The combination of expertise in human biology and state-of-the-art drug discovery technology under one roof sets Sanford-Burnham apart from its peer institutions.”

Another unique aspect of Sanford-Burnham’s approach is its increased emphasis on diversified funding sources, including reinvested drug discovery revenue, philanthropy, and grants. In support of its long-term strategic vision, the Institute also announced that it has received a $275 million pledge payable over 10 years, the largest philanthropic commitment ever received by the Institute. This gift, which was given anonymously, will propel the Institute toward achieving its goal of raising $500 million over the next decade. “This exceptional generosity sets our vision in motion, and cements the stature of Sanford-Burnham as a global leader in translational biomedical research,” said Lucier.

There has been a tidal shift in how medical research is funded, with increased dependence on the private sector. The $275 million pledge comes at a pivotal juncture when the potential impact of research has never been greater and the competition for limited public funding has never been more intense. This extraordinary gift enables Sanford-Burnham to be at the forefront of medical research innovation and provides the financial stability to pursue promising discoveries that will drive medical breakthroughs.


About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of diseases and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery and stem-cell technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs 1,200 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at