A year-end note from David Brenner

| Written by David Brenner
David Brenner standing in front of Sanford Burnham Prebys logo

This past year — my first full calendar year as president and CEO of Sanford Burnham Prebys — has been exciting and immensely rewarding. We’ve accomplished a lot and, more importantly, laid the groundwork for a wealth of future achievements.

It begins with having a plan. We are in the midst of a biomedical revolution, one in which the old ways of thinking about and doing science no longer address the complexities of modern research or the greater needs in public health.

Sanford Burnham Prebys is particularly positioned to adapt and lead in this new world by combining distinct and powerful resources with a unified mission driven by ambitious goals that emphasize disease-focused centers combined with enabling technology programs.

Of course, doing so requires a brilliant faculty, one that boasts exceptional skills and vision not just in this moment, but in the years to come. Our faculty know what to do. Our newest faculty promise to further propel and elevate. In less than a year, we have hired eight early-career scientists and physicians, an unprecedented number in such a short time.

They are among the best and brightest, coming from elite labs and institutions across the country: Shengie Feng, Ph.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and UCSF); Kelly Kersten, Ph.D. (UCSF); Angela Liou, M.D. (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) Sanjeev Ranade, Ph.D. (Gladstone Institutes); Sanju Sinha, Ph.D. (National Cancer Institute); Xueqin Sherine Sun, Ph.D. (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory); Kevin Tharp, Ph.D. (UCSF); and Xiao Tian, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School).

A couple have already started their next chapters of their careers at Sanford Burnham Prebys, including already landing new grants! Others begin in January or March. Please welcome them.

These eight scientists represent the first wave. There are more to come, the benefit of Denny Sanford’s landmark gift early in 2023.

It has been a robust year in science at Sanford Burnham Prebys, too.

The Cancer Center received a merit extension from the NCI related to its support grant, a rare recognition of ongoing excellence. The Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics continues to be the go-to place for drug discovery, highlighted by a trio of recent awards totaling almost $25 million to pursue novel leads and promising therapies to treat all manners of addiction.

Sanford Burnham Prebys researchers are pushing boundaries across disciplines, from DNA loops in pediatric brain tumors and a sugar with anti-cancer properties to a heart attack study that could change regenerative medicine and discovering that an incurable liver disease might just be curable.

We’ve also welcomed two new trustees: Michael R. Cunningham, Ph.D. and Lori Moore.

It’s been a busy year. It’s been a good year.

With all of you, next year will be even better.

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