Sanford-Burnham News Archive

The Burnham Institute Awarded $500,000 Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb

LA JOLLA, Calif. , April 29, 2003

The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California, has received a five-year $500,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant to provide seed funding for the Institute's cancer drug discovery programs to accelerate the translation of results from basic cancer biology research into new therapies for the clinic. John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D., known internationally for his cancer research, will supervise the unrestricted grant and serve as its principal investigator. Dr. Reed is President and CEO of The Burnham Institute, and former director of the Institute's Cancer Center. He is credited with the discovery of numerous proteins that regulate the programmed cell death pathway (apoptosis) in cancer and demonstrating that resistance to anti-cancer drugs is linked to anti-death genes that cancer cells use to avoid being killed by chemotherapy.

"Dr. Reed has defined the relevance of the programmed cell death pathway (apoptosis) in cancer," said Robert Kramer, Ph.D., vice president, Oncology and Immunology Drug Discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

"We are extremely proud to honor his accomplishments in cancer research and look forward to his research providing further insights into the nature of the protein interactions that relay the death switch signal in cancer cells."

Burnham scientists have an established track record of making scientific discoveries that have contributed to a new generation of highly targeted anti-cancer drugs. Burnham discoveries have led to new treatments or diagnostics in clinical use or in advanced phase clinical trials for cancer. These results have been accrued through basic discovery research on cancer cell biology and genetics; identification and validation of drug targets, and generation of prototype drugs and therapies for cancer.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant will help expand the Institute's work in cancer drug discovery, which links knowledge from the Institute's basic discovery research with the ability to identify chemical compounds that bind to drug targets serving as a starting point for refining these chemicals into drugs that can be delivered into the human body. Through this effort, the Institute aims to shorten the time from discovery to pre-clinical research.

"Our cancer drug discovery effort brings together the talents of biologists, chemists, biophysicists, and computational biologists, to discover new ways of treating cancer. We use the latest advances in robotic drug screening and structure-based drug design to create molecularly targeted therapies for cancer that tap into our body's natural defenses against malignancy," said Dr. Reed. "With this grant, Burnham scientists will have the resources to move more of our discoveries into pre-clinical testing. We are grateful to Bristol-Myers Squibb for this funding."

The new grant will be administered by The Burnham Institute's Cancer Center, one of eight basic cancer research centers in the U.S. under the aegis of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The Burnham Institute is an independent, nonprofit, public benefit organization dedicated to basic biomedical research principally in the areas of cancer, aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Program offers the world's premier research institutions the opportunity to pursue new clinical and laboratory findings, support promising young scientists, or acquire new laboratory technology – with no strings attached. The unrestricted nature of the grants allows institutions to put the support where it is most needed and gives scientists the freedom to pursue uncharted paths.

The Unrestricted Cancer Research Grants Program is one of six such programs that support research in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, neuroscience and nutrition. Through the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Program initiated 26 years ago, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has committed over $100 million in support of 240 grants to 150 institutions in 22 countries worldwide.

Each of the six Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants Programs also consists of an annual award for distinguished achievement to an individual researcher. As supervisor of an unrestricted cancer research grant, Dr. Reed is a member of the independent Selection Committee that selects the winner of the annual $50,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research.

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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