San Diego Developer/Philanthropist Gives $100M to Sanford-Burnham

Xconomy San Diego — 

The San Diego-based Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, which also operates in Orlando, FL, has been renamed the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute following a $100 million gift from the developer and philanthropist Conrad Prebys.

Prebys, a real estate developer and owner of San Diego-based Progress Construction and Management, was identified as one of America’s top donors earlier this year in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Prebys donation follows an anonymous $275 million pledge made in early 2014, and gets the institute to three-fourths of its $500 million goal in just the second year of a 10-year fundraising campaign. In a statement yesterday, the institute says the $100 million gift will be used to help fulfill elements of the 10-year strategic plan adopted last year. The plan establishes a new research model that encourages innovation by aligning biomedical research and translational research with commercial drug discovery and development.

The donation “enables us to conduct translational research to advance laboratory discoveries and clinic-ready drug candidates further along the development pipeline,” CEO Perry Nisen said, according to the statement. “We are profoundly grateful to Conrad Prebys for this extraordinary gift.”

“We are 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,” institute president Kristiina Vuori said. “Now more than ever, we have the capacity to speed up the process of moving medical research discoveries from bench to bedside.”

The institute has an annual operating budget of about $152 million and ranks among the top U.S. research centers for National Institutes of Health grants. As I reported last August, federal research grant funding provides more than half of the institute’s operating budget. State support accounts for 17 percent, while philanthropy amounts to about 13 percent. Funding from licensing, other grants, and other revenue sources makes up the remaining 14 percent.

The institute also has established strategic partnerships with such big pharmaceutical companies as Takeda, Pfizer, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals to carry out pre-clinical research to validate prospective drug candidates. The institute plans to establish more pharma and clinical partnerships to advance translational research discoveries.

Prebys previously donated a total of $11 million to the institute, including $10 million in 2009 to support the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics. The institute said his latest gift would “help build sustainability for research and development” and further the institute’s core research and development efforts in cancer, neuroscience, immunity, and metabolic disorders.

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute