The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute said today it will use a $100 million gift from San Diego developer and philanthropist Conrad Prebys to speed up its drug discovery efforts.
The institute is also renaming itself as the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute to honor Prebys, who is also an honorary trustee. The institute’s other namesakes are businessmen-turned-philanthropists T. Denny Sanford and Malin Burnham.
“When it comes to finding cures, Sanford-Burnham is the engine that will drive innovation,” Prebys said in a statement. “If, through my support, I can shorten people’s suffering, or extend their quality of life, that would give me unlimited pleasure and joy.”
The institute said Prebys’ latest gift will help build sustainability for R&D, and further its work in its focus disease areas of cancer, neuroscience, immunity, and metabolic disorders.
Prebys’ gift “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,” added Sanford-Burnham CEO Perry Nisen, M.D., Ph.D. “We are profoundly grateful to Conrad Prebys for this extraordinary gift.”
Prebys has previously gifted the institute $11 million—including $10 million donated in 2009 to support an ultra-high-throughput chemical screening center that bears his name, the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics. The center helped establish the institute’s drug discovery platform, which emphasizes advancing laboratory discoveries to clinical study and gaining commercial interest in Institute assets.
“Nearly a decade ago, his first gift helped us establish the infrastructure for drug discovery research. Today, Conrad’s generosity will take us even further,” stated Kristiina Vuori, M.D, Ph.D., the institute’s president.
Before giving the $100 million gift, Prebys had donated a total of more than $160 million since 2005 to numerous organizations—from community groups to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and San Diego State University.
Prebys rose from a working-class childhood in South Bend, IN, to become the first of five brothers to graduate from Indiana University. In 1966, Prebys co-founded Progress Construction and Management Company, a developer of real estate in California and Texas.
Prebys’ donation is not the largest in the institute’s history. Last year, an anonymous donor gave Sanford-Burnham $275 million.
That donor and Prebys have propelled the institute to more than $375 million in gifts toward a $500 million, 10-year fundraising goal.