Thanks to the philanthropic vision of Stuart and Karen Tanz, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases have combined their strengths in a unique collaboration to find new treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s.
The couple discuss their motivation and why selecting Sanford Burnham Prebys as a partner in research and drug discovery will speed results.
What sparked your interest in neurodegeneration?
Stuart Tanz: It goes back to my father, Mark Tanz, who built one of the great research centers in Canada. That sparked my interest in medicine. I witnessed firsthand my grandmother Gertrude, or Gertie, as we called her, suffer and decline from Alzheimer’s disease. She passed away in June 1986, while she was in her early 80s. It was sad to see such a sharp, vibrant matriarch slowly and then very rapidly decline.
Karen Tanz: We’re doing this for the next generation. We have a granddaughter now who’s two years old. We want her to grow up in a world where there is hope—and treatments—for patients who are at risk of developing these devastating diseases.
Why did you select Sanford Burnham Prebys?
Karen Tanz: It was such an organic, complementary combination of strengths. The University of Toronto has strong research and clinical units. And Sanford Burnham Prebys is amazing. It’s known for taking it to the next level, that is, taking what we learn from research and turning it into drug discovery in the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (Prebys Center). The robotics technology is so impressive—thousands of drugs can be screened very quickly. I just love how this place works. It’s less bureaucratic than other research institutes. Stuart, being the businessman, wants results now.
Stuart Tanz: I posed the question—how are we going to get to the finish line? Sanford Burnham Prebys proposed that we combine the efforts of both organizations to get to the finish line faster. We’re taking the brightest from two world-renowned institutions and bringing them together with the Tanz Initiative.
What motivates your philanthropy?
Stuart Tanz: We’ve been so lucky in the business world, just being in the right place at the right time. We want to be able to give back and share our success with others. This initiative can achieve much more than the accomplishments of two great institutions separately. As they say in the world of Wall Street, one plus one can be greater than three.