Sanford-Burnham Joins Fold at Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute says today it’s joining the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), a global network that New York-based Pfizer established a year ago to foster collaborations between basic research and clinical applications.

The Pfizer network of drug discovery innovation centers includes academic medical centers in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and is expected eventually to extend overseas as well. When UC San Diego Health Sciences joined the network in August, it said its partnership agreement with Pfizer could be worth as much as $50 million from the pharmaceutical giant over the next five years.

The statement from Sanford-Burnham says nothing about funding, although an institute spokeswoman says its financial agreement with Pfizer is comparable to UCSD’s. The medical research institute says it will likely collaborate with UCSD when a research project reaches the clinical stage, and joint research projects would presumably draw from the same pool of funding at Pfizer.

The Sanford-Burnham also noted it is one of only two participating medical research centers in the CTI network that are not academic medical centers. (The other, Harvard Medical School, is not considered an academic medical center because it does not have its own research hospital with clinical trials and access to patient samples.)

Sanford-Burnham has expanded significantly in recent years. The National Institutes of Health awarded Sanford-Burnham a $97.9 million grant in 2008 to establish a high-throughput screening center. It was renamed as the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics in 2009 when San Diego philanthropist Conrad Prebys agreed to donate $10 million to the institute. Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford prompted a similar name change for the institute itself when he pledged $50 million and the research center became the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

The institute says working with Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation will provide scientists at Sanford-Burnham with access to additional resources, including select Pfizer compound libraries, proprietary screening methods, and antibody development technologies.