Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Kozmetsky Family Gives $1 Million to Support ALS Research at Burnham Institute for Medical Research

LA JOLLA, Calif. , January 13, 2006

A $1 Million gift from the Kozmetsky Family of Austin, Texas will enable scientists at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research to incorporate human stem cells as a resource in their work on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ("ALS"). The gift, which originates from Ronya Kozmetsky and Cindy and Greg Kozmetsky, will provide seed funding to investigate the potential of stem cell therapy replacement as a potential treatment for ALS.

"We are grateful to the Kozmetsky Family for their generosity and for placing their faith in Burnham's researchers," said Dr. John Reed, President and CEO. "The stem cell field, in its infancy, holds great potential for ALS and other diseases. The Kozmetsky Family's vision and courage makes it possible for us to move forward without delay."

"We know that important work on ALS is being held up for lack of funding. Our family is proud to be able to give in a way that makes such a difference", said Cindy Kozmetsky, Vice President and Secretary to the Kozmetsky Family Foundation and Trustee at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research.

ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease", is the most aggressive of neurological diseases, claiming the lives of its victims within five years of diagnosis. Approximately 8,000 new cases of ALS are diagnosed each year, and 30,000 people throughout the U.S. currently have the disease. Nearly 100% percent of ALS patients die within three to five years; there is no cure for this disease and treatments are limited.

Despite the horrific suffering endured by ALS patients, pharmaceutical companies categorize ALS as an "orphan" disease because of its relatively small patient population, and generally do not invest in the basic research needed to lay the foundation for new treatments and, ultimately, a cure. The Burnham, together with other not-for-profit research organizations, performs high-risk discovery research needed to drive progress for ALS and other orphan diseases.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

Sanford-Burnham can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @sanfordburnham.

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