Michael Jackson, Ph.D.

Michael Jackson, Ph.D. headshot

Michael Jackson, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery and Development
Associate Director, Translational Initiatives

Michael Jackson's Research Focus

Drug Discovery, Drug Delivery
Cell Biology

Dr. Jackson is senior vice president of drug discovery and development at Sanford Burnham Prebys, where he oversees the bicoastal operations of the Prebys Center, an approximately 80-person Drug Discovery enterprise embedded in the Institute. The center is equipped with state of the art ultra High Throughput Drug Screening (HTS) and lead discovery capabilities. His overall goal is to generate a pipeline of first in class small molecule therapeutics based on the break through discoveries on the molecular basis of disease made by investigators at the institute and collaborators.

Upon joining Sanford Burnham Prebys in 2009 Dr. Jackson managed and then lead as Principal Investigator, Sanford Burnham Prebys’ NIH-funded Molecular Libraries Probe comprehensive center which successfully executed over 100 HTS campaigns with collaborators across the Nation. Over a six year period the center generating >30 million screening data points and produced over 60 chemical probe reports published through the NCBI bookshelf. Since the Molecular libraries program ended the Prebys Center has continued to operate in a highly collaborative framework with investigators from many academic institutes and biopharmaceutical companies, it continues to conduct HTS screens against > 25 targets each year in search of drug leads to advance to therapeutics. Dr. Jackson is integrally involved in the center’s outreach and translational efforts that include over 35 ongoing collaborations, supported by grants, collaborations and contracts.

Dr. Jackson works closely with Sanford Burnham Prebys' senior leadership to seek new avenues of support for preclinical and clinical drug development initiatives to enable the overall mission of the Institute to translate basic research to new products.

Michael Jackson's Bio

Dr. Jackson brings many years of drug discovery and development experience to Prebys Center. Prior to joining Sanford Burnham Prebys in 2009, Dr. Jackson spent 15 years working within Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical research organization. He managed cross-disciplinary teams of scientists focused on discovering chemical leads and clinical candidates directed at novel first-in-class drug targets. In 1999, he took on the role of vice president of discovery research at Johnson & Johnson’s La Jolla, California location, where he establish a state-of-the-art drugs discovery institute. As site head, Dr. Jackson oversaw all aspects of the new institute, from building design to hiring the staff of 300 scientists. In 2001 Dr. Jackson’s responsibility was expanded and as senior vice president of drug discovery at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development (U.S.) he was responsible > 800 hundred drug discovery scientists spread over five sites in the United States. Under his leadership, this organization advanced many clinical candidates into development across 5 multiple therapeutic areas including CNS, Pain, Immunology, CV disease. In 2005, Dr. Jackson was appointed President of ALZA Corporation, a large biotech company acquired by Johnson & Johnson that focused on drug delivery. As president of ALZA, he was responsible for all aspects of a 1,200 person research and development organization, successfully gaining regulatory approval for multiple drug delivery products that leverage the Oros technology and a first in class iontophoretic patch for the treatment of pain. 

Prior to his industry career Dr. Jackson was an assistant professor at The Scripps Research Institute, where he published widely in the fields of cell biology and immunology. His work included identification of motifs that direct intracellular targeting of proteins to subcellular organelles, and the relevance of this and protein folding to antigen presentation and processing in the immune system. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Dundee in Scotland. 


Career Highlights 

  • Managed (2009-2012) and then lead as P.I (2013-2014), Sanford Burnham’s NIH funded U54 grant Molecular libraries comprehensive screening center. 
  • Led the transformation of the Prebys center from a chemical biology and probe production organization to a full capable drug discovery operation generating first in class small molecule drug leads/NME’s. 
  • Instrumental in securing the Institutes first major multi-year, multi PI/project thematic translational collaboration with a pharmaceutical company. 
  • Instrumental in establishing the Florida Translational Research Program – a multi year contract from the department of health/State of Florida supporting Sanford Burnham Prebys translational drug discovery program in Orlando. 
  • Developed and executed “first of a kind” collaborative translational agreements with the Mayo clinic. 
  • Key member of the executive team that established a 10-year plan for the Institute that defined a path to sustainability. This plan was instrumental in securing an anonymous donation to the Institute of $275MM in January 2014. 
  • Established a pipeline of first in class therapeutics leads, the first product of this pipeline was licensed to Daiichi Sankyo in 2015. 
  • Key interface between the Institute and philanthropist Conrad Prebys, which resulted in a $100MM donation to the Institute in 2015
  • Instrumental is establishing a regional drug discovery effort for Alzheimer’s disease in collaboration with Alzheimer’s San Diego, Mayor’s office San Diego and SD County Supervisor.

CMSN Accessory


Cloning of cDNAs coding for rat hepatic microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferases.

Jackson MR, McCarthy LR, Corser RB, Barr GC, Burchell B

Gene 1985 ;34(2-3):147-53

Induction of UDP-glucuronyl transferase mRNA in embryonic chick livers by phenobarbital.

Jackson MR, Kennedy SM, Lown G, Burchell B

Biochem Pharmacol 1986 Apr 1 ;35(7):1191-8

Show All Select Publications

β-arrestin-biased Allosteric Modulator of Neurotensin Receptor 1 Reduces Ethanol Drinking and Responses to Ethanol Administration in Rodents.

Gereau GB, Zhou D, Van Voorhies K, Tyler RE, Campbell J, Murray JG, Alvarez-Pamir A, Wykoff LA, Companion MA, Jackson MR, Olson SH, Barak LS, Slosky LM, Vetreno RP, Besheer J, McElligott ZA

bioRxiv 2024 Apr 13 ;

Concentration and proteolysis of CX3CL1 may regulate the microglial response to CX3CL1.

Finneran D, Li Q, Subbarayan MS, Joly-Amado A, Kamath S, Dengler DG, Gordon MN, Jackson MR, Morgan D, Bickford PC, Smith LH, Nash KR

Glia 2023 Feb ;71(2):245-258

An Optimized Dihydrodibenzothiazepine Lead Compound (SBI-0797750) as a Potent and Selective Inhibitor of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax Glucose 6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase 6-Phosphogluconolactonase.

Berneburg I, Peddibhotla S, Heimsch KC, Haeussler K, Maloney P, Gosalia P, Preuss J, Rahbari M, Skorokhod O, Valente E, Ulliers D, Simula LF, Buchholz K, Hedrick MP, Hershberger P, Chung TDY, Jackson MR, Schwarzer E, Rahlfs S, Bode L, Becker K, Pinkerton AB

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2022 Apr 19 ;66(4):e0210921

Discovery of Orally Bioavailable Purine-Based Inhibitors of the Low-Molecular-Weight Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase.

Stanford SM, Diaz MA, Ardecky RJ, Zou J, Roosild T, Holmes ZJ, Nguyen TP, Hedrick MP, Rodiles S, Guan A, Grotegut S, Santelli E, Chung TDY, Jackson MR, Bottini N, Pinkerton AB

J Med Chem 2021 May 13 ;64(9):5645-5653

Optimization of a urea-containing series of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) activators.

Pinkerton AB, Sessions EH, Hershberger P, Maloney PR, Peddibhotla S, Hopf M, Sergienko E, Ma CT, Smith LH, Jackson MR, Tanaka J, Tsuji T, Akiu M, Cohen SE, Nakamura T, Gardell SJ

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2021 Jun 1 ;41:128007

Targeting eIF4F translation initiation complex with SBI-756 sensitises B lymphoma cells to venetoclax.

Herzog LO, Walters B, Buono R, Lee JS, Mallya S, Fung A, Chiu H, Nguyen N, Li B, Pinkerton AB, Jackson MR, Schneider RJ, Ronai ZA, Fruman DA

Br J Cancer 2021 Mar ;124(6):1098-1109

Show All Publications