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S A N F O R D - B U R N H A M




Join Us Be a part of the quest to cure disease.

A Designation of Distinction The Spirit of Competition: Dr. Carl Ware A Timeless Friendship: Pauline Foster



Welcome to Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute


Dr. William H. and Lillian Fishman

A Designation of Distinction


A Message from Dr. John Reed


Recruiting the Best and the Brightest


Give the Gift of Medical Research


Upcoming Events


Talking with a Scientist


Talking with a Donor



Roberta and Malin Burnham Joe Lewis Conrad T. Prebys T. Denny Sanford TRUSTEES AND OFFICERS

Gregory T. Lucier CHAIRMAN

Recent Events


John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D.

Scientists of Tomorrow



Partners in Science

Back Cover

Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D.


Blair Blum


Gary F. Raisl, MBA, Ed.D.


Elizabeth Birlet, M.A. Stephanie Boumediene, M.P.H. Edgar Gillenwaters Philip Graham, M.B.A. Chris Lee, M.B.A.

Margaret M. Dunbar SECRETARY

Arthur Brody Shehan Dissanayake M. Wainwright Fishburn, Jr. Pauline M. Foster David F. Hale Jeanne Herberger, Ph.D. Brent Jacobs James E. Jardon II Robert J. Lauer Sheila Lipinsky Robert A. Mandell Nicolas C. Nierenberg Douglas Obenshain Peter Preuss Stuart Tanz Jan Tuttleman, Ph.D, MBA Andrew J. Viterbi, Ph.D. Carl Ware, Ph. D. Bobbi Warren Allen R. Weiss Gayle E. Wilson Diane Winokur EX-OFFICIO



Elizabeth Gianini


Kristina Meek, M.A.



Sanford-Burnham CEO, Dr. John Reed and President, Dr. Kristiina Vuori confer near their offices at the Institute’s La Jolla campus.

Creative Fusion

Toll-free: 1-877-454-5702


Sanford | Burnham Medical Research Institute 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037 • 858.646.3100 Sanford | Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona 6400 Sanger Road, Orlando, FL 32827 • 407.745.2000 Sanford | Burnham Medical Research Institute at Santa Barbara 2324 Life Sciences Building, University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 93106 • 805.453.0259

Welcome to

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and to our Premier Issue of


If you have ever been curious about what scientists are doing to find the cures of tomorrow, or how you can help, keep reading. Look inside, meet our scientists, and get involved. Portal is just the beginning—the way in. If you are intrigued by what you see here, we invite you to learn more. Visit our website, subscribe to our blog,, attend an event, schedule a tour, follow us on Twitter, or remember us in your end-of-year giving. This is a place for you. Sanford-Burnham researchers are working toward treatments and cures that may one day impact your life directly. Your support can help make it happen.

A wonderful time was had by all, and more than $2 million was raised at the SanfordBurnham gala, Speakeasy: Hidden in Plain Sight on Saturday, October 23. Seen here are the three honorary cochairs, T. Denny Sanford, Malin Burnham, and Conrad Prebys (far right) celebrating with next year’s gala chairs, Jeanne and Gary Herberger. Turn To Page 10 For More Event Photos. | PORTAL



a Designation of Distinction In September, Sanford-Burnham received unprecedented news. Not only was the Institute’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation renewed, but it received its greatest increase in grant money ever—21 percent. The NCI gave the Sanford-Burnham Cancer Center their highest rating of “outstanding.” What does that mean for you, our supporter? It means your contributions are in the best of hands, according to the highest authority in the cancer research world. “This endorsement confirms that your philanthropic dollars are highly leveraged at Sanford-Burnham,” says CEO Dr. John Reed. “At a time when NIH funding is extremely limited, high scores matched with an increase in funding reflect the NCI’s confidence in our ability to translate discoveries into new therapies for cancer patients.” Sanford-Burnham is one of only seven basic cancer research centers with the NCI designation, which it has held continuously since 1981. The NCI conducts a rigorous peer-review process to determine which organizations will receive this coveted distinction, with a renewal required every three to five years.



The NCI’s enthusiastic review was based largely on the expert leadership of Cancer Center Director and Sanford-Burnham President, Dr. Kristiina Vuori. Dr. Vuori has been part of the Cancer Center since she began as a postdoctoral researcher in 1992 under Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti. “NCI Cancer Center designation is a national benchmark, and our renewal with an ‘outstanding’ rating confirms the exceptional quality of cancer research at SanfordBurnham,” says Dr. Vuori. “The significant budget increase we received is a tremendous honor and a reflection of the hard work and dedication by faculty and staff throughout the Institute.” Cancer research at Sanford-Burnham aims to preempt cancer before it develops, detect cancer at its earliest point and eliminate its deadly spread.

This endorsement confirms that your philanthropic dollars are highly leveraged at Sanford-Burnham.

reported that the number of cancer deaths in the U.S. dropped by 17 percent from 1991 to 2007. Currently, two approved drugs and five experimental therapies for cancer in clinical trials can be traced to the work of SanfordBurnham scientists.

The need for improved cancer diagnosis and treatment is great. Cancer claims the lives of more than 500,000 Americans each year, with almost 1.5 million new cases of cancer diagnosed annually.

Even with this badge of honor and the accompanying grant money from the NCI, Sanford-Burnham can use your help. By making a donation to the Cancer Center, you can help ensure that progress continues, and that more effective treatments and even cures might be found. To support Sanford-Burnham right now, visit the “Support Us” section of our website, or contact Jane Langer at 858795-5288 or

Scientific advances over the past 30 years have resulted in enormous progress against cancer. The American Cancer Society

To learn more about the Cancer Center, visit our website or call 877-454-5702 to arrange a tour.

— CEO Dr. John Reed | PORTAL


biology and biochemistry for the decade 1999-2009. While some degree of scientific brilliance surely contributes to producing such breakthrough results that move the entire biomedical research community forward, it’s teamwork and collaboration that really pay off.

A Message from

Dr. John Reed

Welcome to Sanford-Burnham’s new magazine, Portal. Our goal with this publication is to give you a window into the workings of the Institute and the people who have dedicated their lives to discovering cures for the diseases that we confront today. At Sanford-Burnham, collaboration is an essential strategy for tackling daunting challenges such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Collaboration requires teamwork, where we bring together the talents of biologists, chemists, physicists, computer scientists and engineers, in what I like to call a symphony of scientific synergy. That means our scientists are chosen not only for their brilliance but also for personality types conducive to working as teams. The result is some pretty interesting people that you will get to know through the pages of Portal. You might ask whether this collaborative strategy works. Well, according to the Institute for Scientific Information, among all universities, research institutes, hospitals and companies engaged in life science research, Sanford-Burnham routinely ranks among the top 10 organizations in the world for the impact of our publications in scientific and medical journals. In fact, last year, SanfordBurnham achieved the #1 ranking worldwide for research publications in the fields of



Collaboration also pays off when it comes to competing for grants. Last year our scientists submitted 540 grant proposals, an incredible effort that brought in $105 million in revenue, breaking the $100 million mark for the first time in our history. What’s more, our scientists did this at a time when funding paylines at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (our main source of funding) are such that only the top six to eight percent of proposals win approval, the most competitive environment ever in the history of NIH. In fact, from 2001-2009, we posted eight consecutive years of double-digit growth in NIH grant revenue, and are the only organization in the nation to do so. What accounts for this success? Collaboration is a big factor, with more than half of our grant funding resulting from multi-investigator collaborative proposals. Our donors are also critical to this success. That’s because to generate competitive research grants, we must have preliminary data. Our scientists need seed capital to generate those early results that test whether their ideas are feasible. We’re asking you to provide that support. And, if you do, we offer an impressive return on your investment, because our scientists typically convert every philanthropic dollar you give into nearly ten dollars of research grant funding. I hope you enjoy your portal into our organization. Thank you for investing some of your valuable time to get to know Sanford-Burnham and the people behind the breakthroughs in medical science.

John C. Reed, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer Professor & Donald Bren Chief Executive Chair

Recruiting the Best and Brightest: Dr. Robert Wechsler-Reya The decision to move across the country and take a new job is a major one for anybody. But Dr. Robert Wechsler-Reya was excited to relocate to San Diego with his wife and children, to be close to family, and to take advantage of the resources offered at Sanford-Burnham. Dr. Wechsler-Reya was recruited to Sanford-Burnham from Duke University, in part, with the first ever Leadership Award—a $5.9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In November, Dr. Wechsler-Reya stepped into his position as professor and director of the Tumor Development Program at Sanford-Burnham’s NCI-designated Cancer Center. His laboratory studies how the brain develops and how brain cells turn into tumors.

Robert Wechsler-Reya with his wife, Tannishtha, their son Remy, and daughter Nina.

During development, brain stem cells proliferate to generate hundreds of billions of neurons. But when this proliferation goes awry, cancer can develop. Dr. Wechsler-Reya studies how stem cells develop normally, and compares the normal processes with the abnormal ones that result in cancer. In 2005 Dr. Wechsler-Reya’s lab discovered a rare type of neural stem cell that is capable of generating all of the cell types in the cerebellum. Since then, they have been exploring how those stem cells decide when to divide and when to differentiate. Most recently, they have found that when those cells acquire certain mutations, they can give rise to medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.

We’re using a sledgehammer, and we need to be using a scalpel. “This is a disease that we desperately need to understand,” he says. When it was first discovered, medulloblastoma was almost universally fatal. Today, children with medulloblastoma are treated with an aggressive regimen of surgery, radiation and high-dose chemotherapy, and have a 70 to 80 percent chance of survival. Unfortunately, these treatments are associated with serious side effects. “Radiation is extremely effective,” Dr. WechslerReya reports, “but also extremely devastating.” Radiation damages many tissues of the body. Children treated with radiation often suffer severe cognitive impairment and endocrine disorders, and have an increased likelihood of developing other cancers later in life. Continued on Page 13 | PORTAL


Give the Gift of Medical Research Would you like to give a unique holiday gift this year? You can, by supporting the work of a young Sanford-Burnham researcher in the name of someone you care about. Young scientists and postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) are our hope for the cures of tomorrow! A postdoc is an individual who has received a Ph.D. and is engaged in mentored advanced training in the same way a young doctor engages in an internship and residency. The primary purpose of the postdoc experience is to broaden and deepen the research skills that are required for a significant contribution to science and medicine.


Supports a young scientist for a year.


Supports a young scientist for 6 months.


Supports a young scientist for 1 month.


Supports a young scientist for a week.

Call us today at 1-877-454-5702 or e-mail Jane Langer at to arrange your gift.

Your Portal We hope you are enjoying the premiere issue of Portal. This new publication will be sent quarterly and is available by mail or by e-mail. If you prefer to receive Portal by e-mail, please go to and opt-in. By choosing to receive Portal electronically, you will help us make the most of your financial contributions to Sanford-Burnham. If you have any questions please call us at 1-877-454-5702. Thank you!




JANUARY 8 & 9, 2011

Team SanfordBurnham at the Walt Disney World Marathon

Members of Team Sanford-Burnham have been training since August to complete the Walt Disney World Marathon (26.2 miles) & Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, January 8 and Sunday, January 9, in Orlando, Florida. Along with training for the race, each member of Team Sanford-Burnham worked to raise $2,500 to support breakthrough scientific discoveries. If you are in Orlando, please come out and support these dedicated athletes, which include Dr. John Reed and other Sanford-Burnham scientists. Can’t make it in person? Your financial contribution is much appreciated. You may contribute by visiting

APRIL 21, 2011

Bring It! La Jolla Long Live

To stay up-to-date about our events please follow us on Twitter: @SBI_Events.

“Rock On” for stem cell research! If you thought this unique event was fun last year, wait until you see what we have in store for 2011. If this is your first time, you better hold on to your hat. Sanford-Burnham and HeadNorth present a game show filled with laughs, costumes and outrageous behavior, all in the pursuit of cutting edge stem cell research. Learn more & buy tickets at | PORTAL



The Spirit of Competition

Dr. Carl Ware

“Donors are part of the research team,” says Dr. Carl Ware, Director of the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center (IIDC). “They need to know that they’re an important part of the scientific endeavor, to achieve the goals that we want to achieve, which are, in many cases, finding new medicines and therapies.” A lover of sports from baseball to surfing, Dr. Ware knows how the team spirit can lead to victory. Whether you cheer for the your hometown football team, challenge yourself to feats of physical endurance, or prefer pursuits of the mind, you know the thrill of achievement. It is that thrill that drives many scientists, including those at Sanford-Burnham, who work collaboratively, yet maintain a competitive spirit. As Dr. Ware recounts, “Many of the top scientists I know are quite athletic. I think it goes together with having a competitive drive, in this case not competing with someone else, but competing intellectually to solve problems. That’s where scientists translate that athleticism and competitive spirit into their own science. They take that same ‘go for it’ attitude.”

Dr. Ware joined Sanford-Burnham in August, bringing a research team focused primarily on the study of cytokines, a family of proteins involved in immune signaling. It was, in part, the ‘team spirit’ that drew him. “We’re really in an era of collaborative interactions and bigger projects. You can tackle bigger problems by collaborating. I think that’s where Sanford-Burnham steps ahead of everybody else—they really promote this in their culture.” Another attractive facet of Sanford-Burnham was the potential for diverse funding sources, including philanthropy. “SanfordBurnham has a fantastic track record of raising substantial amounts of resources through philanthropic means,” Dr. Ware Continued on Page 13




A Timeless Friendship:

Pauline Foster

Sanford-Burnham is fortunate to have incredibly generous friends involved in all aspects of its work. Whether they give of their time, their genius, or their financial resources, the people who care about the Institute are what make it great. Pauline Foster is one such benevolent individual, who became involved fairly recently. In September, she was named to the Sanford-Burnham Board of Trustees.

There is a desperate need for cures, especially for cancer. Last May, Mrs. Foster endowed the Pauline and Stanley Foster Presidential Chair when Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., was named president of the Institute. Dr. Vuori is also the director of the NCI-Designated Cancer Center, and cancer is an area about which Mrs. Foster is especially passionate. “There is a desperate need [for cures], especially for cancer,” she says. “Cancer is such an individual disease. It changes with each person.” She has hope that Sanford-Burnham will find a cure. Mrs. Foster has long been an active and highly respected philanthropist in the

At the September Board of Trustees meeting, Pauline Foster was presented with a Tiffany’s glass bowl as a thank you gift. On the left is Dr. Kristiina Vuori and on the right, Board Chairman Greg Lucier.

San Diego community. In November, the University of California, San Diego honored her with their Chancellor’s Medal. She serves on the boards of several local non-profits. Mrs. Foster first learned of Sanford-Burnham through her longtime friend Malin Burnham, and she also recalls her son-in-law speaking highly of the Institute. Supporting SanfordBurnham, she says, “seemed to offer an opportunity to potentially help a lot of people.” “We’re honored to have Pauline join the Board,” says Greg Lucier, Chairman of Sanford-Burnham’s Board of Trustees. “We look forward to the significant participation of our Trustees in advancing our quest to understand, cure and prevent disease.” As a new board member, Mrs. Foster looks forward to spreading the word about the Institute’s amazing work so that others in the community will embrace its healing mission.

Board of Trustees News Sanford-Burnham was pleased to welcome some high-profile additions to its Board of Trustees at the September 2010 Board meeting. The Board unanimously elected Roberta and Malin Burnham, longtime supporters of the Institute, as Honorary Trustees. They elected Pauline Foster, President of

Foster Investments, as a new Trustee. Finally, they welcomed back Trustee Nico Nierenberg, founder of Actuate Software Corporation. For a full list of the Board of Trustees, see the inside cover of this issue or visit our website. | PORTAL




Recent Events Sanford-Burnham supporters love to have fun while pursuing a common goal­­­­—raising funds to find the treatments and cures of tomorrow. Here are some of our recent events. Sanford-Burnham co-founder Lillian Fishman received the Distinguished Alumni

Award from the University of Alberta in September; her daughter, Nina, accompanied her to receive it. Jeanne and Gary Herberger hosted a dinner in September, honoring Denny Sanford for his Philanthropic Footprint on San Diego, which has included transformational support of Sanford-Burnham. Drs. David Castro, Gaurav Sharma, Stefan Grotegut and George Kyriazis received this year’s Fishman Fund Awards, which honor promising members of the next generation of researchers. Sanford-Burnham Lake Nona’s first major fundraising event, Bring It! Orlando, gave people a “rockin’” good time in the name of medical research. | PORTAL



Seeing Science Juliana Biersbach, a tenth grade chemistry and eighthgrade science teacher at The Preuss School UCSD, is a tireless advocate for engaging students in science. Her work helps shape the scientists of tomorrow, those who might one day make life-changing discoveries at research institutes like Sanford-Burnham. Juliana will be a regular contributor to Portal, giving you the tools and insights to share science with the youth in your life.

Each day I am inspired by my students, their stories, and their love for learning. What I have found is that the best way to help students grow in their understanding and interest in science is to help them see science around them. A student’s innate curiosity is a teacher’s greatest asset. Science, medical research, and engineering are constantly growing fields with tremendous opportunities for students to use their natural curiosity and love for learning in and out of the classroom. Many schools participate in local, regional, state, or national science competitions. The competition teams are wonderful extracurricular activities for middle and high school students to use and improve their knowledge and understanding of science. Science clubs, internships, and research programs give students the opportunity to grow as students, while also investing in their futures. Sanford-Burnham, along with other biotech and research institutes, have programs that allow students to work



with researchers in labs to really see science in action and apply it to possible future areas of study. It is important for students to see the application of science outside the classroom. For instance, how is science used to research the medicines they take? How does it explain how their bodies work? It is vital to help students build a firm base of understanding in science because it helps them to form the ability to think analytically, be conscious of the environment, and strengthen their math skills using real life applications. There are many ways for students to truly experience science. You could go on a family snorkeling trip and identify the fish and coral in the reefs. You could go to an amusement park and explain the forces present on each ride, or visit a science museum and discuss the evolution of medicine and how researchers each day find new ways to cure diseases at institutes like Sanford-Burnham. When students see science in action, that is what will ignite a love for both science and for learning.

Elizabeth Birlet Sanford-Burnham is pleased to welcome Elizabeth Birlet, our new Vice President of External Relations. Elizabeth will be leading our fundraising efforts in Florida and much of the East Coast. Look for more information on her in the near future.

Continued from Page 5

Recruiting the Best and Brightest “Metaphorically, we’re using a sledgehammer, and we need to be using a scalpel,” he says. “We’re now in a position where we can study the biology of this tumor, understand what makes it grow, and begin to develop more targeted, more effective and less toxic treatments.” Dr. Wechsler-Reya is eager to pursue this goal at Sanford-Burnham. “The ability to do the kind of science that we do and to take it a step forward toward translation is phenomenal here. The core facilities (technology centers shared by all researchers at Sanford-Burnham) are just outstanding.” It is not only SanfordBurnham that offers resources for this work,

but San Diego as a whole. “The surrounding community is just outstanding. San Diego is one of the top centers for neurobiology in the country, and the brain tumor community here is growing extremely rapidly. Our ability to interact with pathologists and oncologists and do the kind of translational work that we want to do is terrific.” “We are really excited about being in San Diego. We have two kids, and I think they’re going to have a great time here. The whole opportunity to move to a new place and have new interactions is a big adventure for all of us.”

Continued from Page 9

The Spirit of Competition reflects. Raising money, however, is a marathon rather than a sprint: “We’re always looking for sources of funding to train our research scientists and to advance the leads that we are discovering. Research is an expensive undertaking.” When he’s not in the lab, Dr. Ware says he can most likely be found surfing or spending time with his family—or both. “Surfing is something I’ve done since I was a little kid... It links me up with nature and keeps

me healthy.” His older son Austin is a professional surfer. “I knew from early on that he would be a professional athlete,” Dr. Ware says of Austin, whose first love was baseball. However he took to surfing with great dedication and talent. Dr. Ware’s younger son Brian works in the lab as a research technician, and is preparing to start graduate school. The Wares share their love of the ocean by volunteering together for conservation

projects and other causes. For several years running,they organized and funded a surfing team, which has raised $40,000 for cancer research. As Director of the IIDC, Dr. Ware oversees the Institute’s work on HIV, influenza, anthrax, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune disorders and many other conditions. His scientific vision and leadership are great assets to the Center, and to the Institute. | PORTAL


Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage 10901 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037


Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

In each issue of Portal we will introduce a donor and a researcher who have come together through a common passion. SanfordBurnham takes pride in our ability to make these connections, allowing you, our supporters, to see your investments at work.


Christopher Veitch and Robert Rickert, Ph.D Christopher Veitch is president of the Oxnard Foundation, which supports medical research with an emphasis on cancer. “We fund smaller projects that researchers are working on that would not attract mainstream funding,” he says. The Foundation supported Robert Rickert, Ph.D in Sanford-Burnham’s Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center (IIDC), with a multi-year grant. Mr. Veitch was motivated, in part, by watching his daughter suffer from arthritis. He feels that Sanford-Burnham is one of the best research institutes in the world. To learn more about Dr. Rickert’s work please go to


Join Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, be a part of the quest to cure disease.

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