Tight employment a sign of resilience: Interview with David Brenner

| Written by Miles Martin
David A Brenner, M.D.

Sanford Burnham Prebys recently received a substantial gift from namesake benefactor T. Denny Sanford, specifically to hire 20 new faculty positions in research areas including cancer, neurodegeneration and computational biology.

For president and CEO David A. Brenner, M.D., the gift provides the opportunity to bring the very best and brightest to the Institute. It is also a sign of how resilient and successful the biomedical research sector is in the San Diego region.

“Our goal is to recruit the smartest, most innovative scientists from the best laboratories in the top institutions in the world,” said, David Brenner. “In addition, this new gift will be used to invest in our current faculty and research infrastructure.”

The success of life science as an industry has made finding talented researchers harder over the years. According to a report published by CBRE, the number of researchers working in life sciences grew 79% from 2001 to 2021. Yet despite that growth, life science occupations had the second-lowest unemployment rate of all U.S. occupations at just 0.6%.

“There is an incredible demand for researchers and scientists, and shortage of biomedical skilled labor in general. This tight labor market and competition for talent is linked to the success of institutes and need for world-class scientists,” Brenner said, adding that to help meet the demand, Sanford Burnham Prebys doubled the size of its entering class of its graduate school this year.

Research institutes like Sanford Burnham Prebys compete against for-profit private and public companies for talented graduates to come work for them, which is why philanthropic donations like the one from Sanford are important to nonprofit research enterprises.

“If you look at how nonprofit biomedical research institutions get support, there are not as many avenues for funding. Competitive grants do not provide project startup funds,” Brenner said. “T. Denny Sanford’s recent gift will allow Sanford Burnham Prebys to attract the most promising scientists from around the world and support them as they develop into world-class scientists. In addition, the donation will allow Sanford Burnham Prebys to invest in our research infrastructure and technology, imperative when recruiting the brightest minds in biomedical research.”

This story was adapted from a special report in the San Diego Business Journal

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