Monday, November 4, 2013

$100 million donation to speed stem cell research in San Diego

Stem cell research in San Diego got a $100 million boost today from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who is a long-time donor to research in the San Diego area. He is the  namesake behind the Sanford Consortium stem cell research building, to which he donated $30 million. He also donated $70 million to the renamed Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, which is one of the consortium members.

The donation will create the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego and will enable the school to hire 20 to 25 scientists and recruit patients for clinical trials. Sanford lives in South Dakota but owns a home near San Diego and has been a long-time supporter of advancing medical research.

Sanford has said that before he dies he wants to give away all his money, which he earned as the owner of credit card companies. With this recent donation, Sanford says he hopes to speed attempts to turn stem cell discoveries into cures.

The San Diego Union Tribune ran a story today about the donation, quoting Sanford:
“There’s a unique opportunity to do that here because we have a great university — UCSD — working with four other participants: the Salk Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology. There’s nothing like this anywhere else.”
UCSD stem cell scientist Lawrence Goldstein played an important role in securing this gift. He said that it's time to move beyond testing therapies in mice and move on to human clinical trials. In the Union Tribune story he said:
“We need to do experiments on people. We’re not just big mice. ... This center will set up the pipeline, set up the methods, help us recruit patients and begin testing.”
The need to have world class centers like this one for testing stem cell therapies in human clinical trials is something CIRM is addressing with our alpha clinics initiative. Many stem cell research projects started in the past decade will soon be ready to test in people. Without clinics that have expertise in carrying out specialized stem cell clinical trials, those therapies might have a much slower path to reaching patients who need them. A request for applications to our initiative has been posted on our website, with awards due to be approved by our governing board next summer.

Amy Adams

1 comment:

  1. No one who lives with or cares for a nearly blind person can know how it feels to slowly lose one's independence. Please speed up the stem cell research so that my husband and others like him may one day regain all or part of their sight.