A new 10-year vision, launched with a landmark gift

By Communications Staff
January 28, 2014
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Sanford-Burnham’s Board of Trustees today announced it has approved a new 10-year strategic vision to accelerate the Institute’s impact on improving human health. The vision will fortify our 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. “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.”

Our scientists 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 health-care 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 our 37-year expertise in basic research and human biology, we will accelerate the pace of our biomedical discoveries and are 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, we will more vigorously pursue research breakthroughs into the realm of therapeutics development by leveraging our 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 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 Sanford-Burnham’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 our approach is our increased emphasis on diversified funding sources, including reinvested drug discovery revenue, philanthropy, and grants. In support of our long-term strategic vision, we are also announcing that we have 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 Sanford-Burnham toward achieving our 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.

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