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 unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is especially known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies.

Sanford-Burnham is a U.S.-based, non-profit public benefit corporation, with operations in San Diego (La Jolla) and Orlando (Lake Nona) in Florida.


  • Sanford-Burnham ranks #3 worldwide among all research organizations in citations per publication in the fields of biology and biochemistry for the most recent decade for which data are available.
  • Sanford-Burnham ranks #3 in the nation among all laboratory-based life sciences research organizations in NIH grant funding.
  • In 2012, Sanford-Burnham researchers published 366 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
  • For every dollar of philanthropic support, the Institute has generated about $8 dollars of grant funding, thus effectively leveraging gifts 8:1. That’s the most efficient research operation among the Institute’s peer group of leading independent biomedical research institutes in the U.S.

Research Centers and Programs

Cancer Center

The Cancer Center has been supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1981. It is one of only 7 NCI-designated basic science cancer centers in the country, with programs in:

Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research

The Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research was established in 1999 with the aim to develop novel strategies for either protecting existing cells or replacing cells lost due to disease. The research programs in this center focus on:

Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center

The Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center was founded in 2004 to address the global population's increasing vulnerability to emerging pathogens and to counter threats of deadly diseases intentionally introduced by bioterrorists. The center also seeks to discover new ways to treat chronic inflammatory diseases, some of which are linked to dysfunctional host responses to pathogens. These questions are the subject of the following research programs:

Diabetes and Obesity Research Center

The Diabetes and Obesity Research Center is headquartered at Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida. Research programs related to diabetes, obesity, metabolism and heart disease are being developed. Current programs include:

Sanford Children’s Health Research Center

The Sanford Children’s Health Research Center works in collaboration with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Its aim is to combine collaborative scientific talent with state-of-the-art technology to conquer childhood diseases. The center has one program currently, with additional programs under development:

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Impact Through Translational Research

Research by Sanford-Burnham scientists has contributed to tangible medical benefits.

  • 3 FDA approved drugs for treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • 2 drugs for treatment of cancer and 1 device for tissue repair in Phase III clinical trials.
  • 3 drugs in Phase II clinical trials for various cancers along with 1 for a rare bone disorder.
  • 3 drugs in Phase I clinical trials for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cancer.

Facts and Figures

  • Faculty (full time): 89
  • Faculty (adjunct): 43
  • Scientific staff: 960
  • Total staff: 1,200 (approx.)
  • Centers: 5
  • La Jolla and Lake Nona Campuses: 671,798 sq. feet
  • Annual operating budget: $153 million
  • Peer-reviewed scientific publications in 2012: 366
  • Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization

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