Millionaire’s gift to San Diego

homecoverBusinessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford committed $100 million this November to create a stem cell center at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD). The Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center will be directed by Lawrence Goldstein, who already directs UCSD’s stem cell research and the existing Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. “The goal is very straightforward,” Goldstein says, “and that is to accelerate the development of stem cell–based therapies for patients with intractable diseases.” As San Diego already has many stem cell research institutions, Goldstein says the new center will seek to provide a “shared pipeline” to help those institutions identify therapeutic candidates for human trials. The center will also include a counseling component to advise patients on emerging therapies. One important investment will be in staff to guide researchers through the “regulatory gauntlet.” Stem cell biologist Chad Cowan, a program director principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, welcomes the regulatory support: “I think it’s a smart move on Larry’s part to consider investing some of the funds in the people who will actually educate the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] to help pave the way for their translational trials.” The gift, he says, “has the opportunity to put San Diego on the map, sort of the way the Broad Institute has for [Boston].”

First published in Nature Biotechnology: [html] [pdf].