Stepping into a scientist’s shoes at the Cancer Center Open House

| Written by Monica May
Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center Open House poster presentation

Cancer research has led to new insights and novel medicines that have transformed the lives of parents, grandparents and children around the world. Yet cancer remains the number-one cause of death in San Diego (nationally, it is the second-leading cause of death). The quest for new and better treatments—and a world free of the disease—remains urgent. 

On June 13, 2019, the San Diego community—including many cancer survivors and their loved ones—had a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a cancer researcher and see how cancer drugs are discovered at the open house of our NCI-designated Cancer Center. The facility is one of only seven National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated basic research cancer centers in the nation. 

Following an introduction by Garth Powis, D. Phil., professor and director of the NCI-designated Cancer Center, guests embarked on guided lab tours. Attendees discovered how we’re working to find better ways to combat cancer, viewed highly specialized equipment—such as machines that model the low-oxygen environment surrounding a tumor—and donned lab coats to catch a glimpse of our ultra-high-throughput drug screening robot in action at our Prebys Center for Drug Discovery. The state-of-the-art technology at the Prebys Center can screen hundreds of thousands of potential drug candidates in one run, accelerating the time it takes to find new, promising compounds that may become tomorrow’s cancer treatments.

Guests also learned how San Diego, with a multitude of world-class research institutes, universities and biotech companies, is shaping the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment. And our Community Advisory Board, comprised of cancer research advocates and cancer survivors, were on hand to share the importance of factoring in patients’ perspectives as breakthrough science moves from “bed to bedside.”

See the science in action in these event photos.

Missed the event? We hope you can join us at our next open house in November. The event is free and open to the public. Check for more details at

Many thanks to our Community Advisory Board (CAB), the host of the open house. Comprised of nine cancer research advocates, including many cancer survivors, this committee strives to create a dialogue between our scientists and the community. We are grateful for CAB’s efforts surrounding the event, which included helping our scientists prepare lay-friendly presentations and posters that were critical to the event’s success.

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