Sanford-Burnham News Archive

T. Denny Sanford Donates $50 Million to Burnham Institute for Medical Research

LA JOLLA, Calif. , January 26, 2010

Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) announced today that philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has pledged $50 million to support and further expand and accelerate the Institute’s leading-edge medical research. To honor Sanford, Burnham has been renamed the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. This is the second gift Sanford has made to Burnham. In 2007, he directed $20 million through Sanford Health to create the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at Burnham.

“Denny Sanford’s continuing generosity will help us make a greater impact on human health,” said John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO, professor and Donald Bren Presidential Chair. “Medical research is changing rapidly. This gift provides a base that enhances our ability to innovate, allowing us to create and maintain technological capabilities that empower great science and also providing seed funding for new ideas that generate promising pilot results so critical for competitive grant applications. At the other end of the spectrum, this remarkable gift provides much-needed support for translating our discoveries into novel strategies for prevention, diagnosis and therapy of diseases.”

The Sanford gift will significantly strengthen Burnham’s endowment. While Burnham has been extremely successful at winning grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), achieving eight consecutive years of double-digit growth in grant revenue and currently ranking fourth in the nation among similar organizations, philanthropy provides funding for initiatives not typically supported by the NIH and ensures stability in an increasingly competitive grant environment. The gift will be made in $10 million increments for five years.

“Since the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center was established, I have had the opportunity to observe the incredible research being conducted by Burnham scientists,” said Denny Sanford. “With this gift I have challenged others to join me in supporting this life-changing science.”

Malin Burnham, whose own gift catalyzed a similar transformation in 1996, welcomes the change and the challenge. “We are all honored by the confidence Denny Sanford has shown in the Institute,” said Burnham. “These additional resources will help our scientists address many of the world’s most devastating diseases faster, and that will benefit patients.”

In less than two and a half years, Denny Sanford has invested $100 million in San Diego life-science organizations. Sanford has given Burnham, both individually and through Sanford Health, $70 million. In 2008, Sanford donated $30 million to the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, now known as the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, to construct its state-of-the-art stem cell research facility. Burnham is a member of the Consortium.

“This gift will bring long-term benefits to our bicoastal Institute operating in California and Florida, our many collaborators, and millions suffering from disease,” said Greg Lucier, Chairman of the Burnham Board of Trustees and CEO of Life Technologies Corporation.

“California is home to the world's finest biotechnology businesses and institutions that are not only producing a healthier tomorrow but also providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating tens of billions of dollars in economic impact in our state today,” said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I applaud Denny Sanford for his generous donations to this industry and to the Burnham Institute’s cutting-edge research. Discoveries being made by our biomedical research community have already given millions help and hope, and I look forward to the life-enhancing results and new jobs created by this partnership."

About T. Denny Sanford
Denny Sanford was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the height of the Great Depression. He started working at the age of eight. He earned a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and began a career in sales and marketing management. In 1966, Sanford started Contech, a specialty chemical company which was sold in 1982 and followed by a career in private equity investments. In 1986, he purchased United National Bank, which was renamed First Premier Bank. Under his leadership, First Premier has grown its assets to almost $1 billion. Another business, Premier Bankcard Inc., which he started, has become a national leader in the credit card industry.

In 2001, Sanford formed the Sanford Foundation. He is now recognized as one of the most generous philanthropists in the country. In 2007, Sanford donated $470 million to South Dakota-based Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System to create Sanford Health. Later that year, he donated $20 million through Sanford Health to Burnham Institute for Medical Research to create the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center. The following year he donated $30 million to the San Diego Stem Cell Consortium, now the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. His newest gift to Sanford-Burnham brings his total philanthropic investment in San Diego to $100 million. Sanford is now a part-time San Diegan.

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 sanfordburnham.org.

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

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