Earlier this month, Dr. John Reed, CEO and the Donald Bren Chief Executive Chair at Sanford-Burnham, spoke with Bruce Bigelow of Xconomy—a network of biotechnology-related blogs, events, and other initiatives—about how our drug discovery capabilities and the Institute as a whole have developed in the decade since he became CEO. The article points out that Dr. Reed led the development and implementation of a 10-year plan to extend the Institute’s work beyond basic research, with a focus on discovering and developing new drug candidates. Today, Sanford-Burnham identifies between two and four compounds each year that are considered valid clinical candidates.
Last week, Dr. Evan Snyder, director of Sanford-Burnham’s stem cell program, gave a talk at an event held by the San Diego Biotechnology Network. North County Times reporter Bradley Fikes was there, and he captured it beautifully. Read his article and watch the video here: “Where stem cell research now stands in helping patients”
In the piece, Mr. Fikes lists the five main points he took away from the talk:
The White House yesterday announced a new initiative aimed at connecting—and better utilizing—super-fast Internet networks across the country. The initiative, called U.S. Ignite, is intended to encourage a new technology boom by bringing together more than 100 groups, from local communities to academic researcher centers, to develop new approaches to taking advantage of networks that run 100 times faster than today’s Internet. Orlando’s Lake Nona community, home to Medical City and Sanford-Burnham’s Florida site, is one of the groups in the partnership.
The U.S. Ignite initiative is designed to link university campuses, research networks, and broadband cities by leveraging previous investments in network infrastructure. It will also encourage experimentation on public sector applications and services and initiate public-private partnerships between industry, foundations, and community partners.
In a May 27 article, L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik sided with the tobacco companies, urging Californian voters to reject Proposition 29, a measure to raise state cigarette taxes by $1 per pack, because it won’t fix our roads or schools. Amazingly, opponents also call Prop 29′s goal to boost cancer research in California a “narrow purpose.” Today, Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham’s president and director of our NCI-designated Cancer Center, and Sherry Lansing, chairman of the University of California Board of Regents and co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer, respond in the L.A. Times:
A story by KPBS, San Diego’s public radio station, explains how passage of Proposition 29, the California Cancer Research Act, would benefit a number of life science research institutions. The piece features Sanford-Burnham’s Sara Courtneidge, Ph.D. and Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D. First, Courtneidge gives listeners a glimpse of cancer research at Sanford-Burnham and explains how lack of funding is holding back potentially life-saving ideas:
For more than seven years, Courtneidge has been studying how cancer cells invade tissues.
“Both in the primary tumor that people get, but also in the spread of the cancer around the body, which is the thing that most people will die of, the metastases that they have,” Courtneidge said. “And so we’re very interested in defining the mechanisms by which cancer cells move, and invade. And then also thinking about ways that we could come up with new therapeutics that would target that specific mechanism.”
Courtneidge said it takes years of false starts and multiple clinical trials to get even one potential cancer drug to market.
And that requires a lot of money.
In today’s issue of U-T San Diego, Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham’s president and director of our National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, and Sherry Lansing, chair of the University of California Board of Regents, former CEO of Paramount Pictures, and co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer, co-authored an op-ed piece that explains exactly how passage of Proposition 29, the California Cancer Research Act, would both save lives and benefit the state’s economy.
In addition to saving lives and lowering health care costs, passage of Prop 29 will help stimulate the state’s economy by creating and saving jobs in California. The biotechnology industry has been a shining example of stability and growth in our state over the past several decades, and is an area we should be turning to now to help our state recover from economic decline.
Today, California is home to several of the most vibrant life-science research clusters in the world, including 10 of the country’s 66 NCI-designated cancer centers (more than any other state in the nation). The San Francisco Bay Area boasts the oldest and largest biomedical cluster in California and is a world leader in biotechnology. San Diego is known for its biopharmaceutical and medical diagnostics companies, while Orange County has a reputation for medical device inventions and Los Angeles is the place for cutting-edge cancer research and patient care.
As of 2009, the biotechnology industry employed nearly 270,000 Californians. And that number jumps to more than 783,000 jobs when we include everyone employed in academic research, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, laboratory services and other supporting industries.
As the U.S. Congress’ “Deficit Supercommittee” faces a November 23 deadline to cut the national deficit, the directors of San Diego’s three National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers explain why federal funding is so important to cancer research and to the local economy:
Much of San Diego’s cancer research is supported by federal funding—particularly by NCI and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health. This support is crucial to San Diego’s economy—our city is home to the most geographically dense life-sciences research cluster in the world. From 2008 to 2010, San Diego topped every other county in the state in the amount of funding received from the NIH. In 2010, this meant $1.3 billion entered the local economy.
Read the editorial, co-authored by Sanford-Burnham’s President, Dr. Kristiina Vuori, the Salk Institute’s Dr. Tony Hunter, and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center’s Dr. Thomas Kipps, in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The threat to San Diego’s cancer research centers
If you have cancer today, finding out how advanced the tumor has become often requires an invasive biopsy and precious time to prepare and analyze cancerous cells in the lab. Sanford-Burnham’s Dr. Masanobu Komatsu sees another way to rapidly diagnose what’s happening deep inside you.
Someday, he envisions, your doctor will simply administer a solution of nanoparticles that contain a fluorescent dye and a chemical address that helps them home to the tumor cells in your body. The dye will have unique physical properties that enable imaging inside the tissue. A laser device will then beam infrared light into the tumor site, exciting the fluorescent dye that has accumulated in the cancer cells. A computer monitor will display an image of the tumor with cell-by-cell resolution.
Meet Dr. Carl Ware, director of our Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. The San Diego Union-Tribune gives us a glimpse of what he has experienced throughout his life: surfing, hitchhiking, meeting Chuck Berry … and Alzheimer’s disease.
Medscape, a physician-oriented website run by WebMD, visited Sanford-Burnham’s La Jolla campus this summer to record interviews with researchers from both Orlando and San Diego for a new online video program called Developments to Watch. The talk show-like discussions are hosted by Dr. Evan Snyder, who directs the Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology Program at Sanford-Burnham. The first episode, A New Frontier in Alzheimer’s Disease, is now available. In the video, Dr. Snyder speaks with Dr. Stuart Lipton, director of the Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research, about his work on Alzheimer’s disease. They discuss what new findings—and potential treatments—are on the horizon and how they might impact patients.
A user name and password are required to access Medscape, but the site and content are free. New installments will be added monthly.
Watch the video, then come back here to let us know what you think!
For more about our research on Alzheimer’s disease, check out these blog posts:
Getting to the root of Alzheimer’s disease
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Earlier
New Partnership Targets Brain Conditions
Safely Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Saying NO to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases
Paul Diaz, director of operations in the laboratory of Dr. John Reed, recently shared his passion for his work in Lab Manager Magazine:
The privilege of conducting research dedicated to finding cures for human diseases is one reason Paul Diaz starts his workday with enthusiasm.
“The life of a scientist can be stressful, but in what other profession does it seem like someone is paying you to indulge in a guilty pleasure?” says Diaz. “I wake up and can hardly wait to see the latest results and make the next discovery.”
Read more about the Reed lab’s research, Diaz’s role, and his management tips in “Perspectives on a Drug Discovery Lab.”