RANCHO SANTA FE — San Diego philanthropist, businessmanß and Rancho Santa Fe residents Andrew Viterbi, his wife Erna, and their family, have presented Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute with a $1 million gift to establish the Neuroscience Research Initiative.Dr. John C. Reed, Sanford-Burnham chief executive officer, Chief Executive Chairman Donald Bren, and Dr. Evan Y. Snyder, director of the Institute’s Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology Program, will lead the research. Combining expertise in cellular behavior and innovative stem cell research, their collaboration is an example of Sanford-Burnham’s cross-disciplinary approach to medical science.
The two-year initiative will employ “disease in a dish” technology, in which stem cells are used to generate large collections of a particular cell type in the laboratory —certain types of brain cells, in this case. Sanford-Burnham researchers will then use these cell-based models to better understand the underlying causes of disease.
“Technologies enabled by stem cell science are opening new doors for translational medicine,” said Reed. “Visionary entrepreneurs such as Andrew Viterbi appreciate its enormous potential. We are truly grateful that the Viterbi family has chosen to invest in our research.”
“Erna and I have been actively involved with the Institute for nearly three decades,” said Viterbi. “I was invited to join the board by [institute co-founder] Bill Fishman in 1984, and I am still a member. Erna has long been involved with the Fishman Fund for the recognition of postdoctoral researchers. Over the years, we’ve been impressed both by the bright minds that call this place home and by the Institute’s culture that is consciously designed to foster ingenuity and collaboration. Under the leadership of John Reed, Sanford-Burnham has become the place to embark on a project such as this.”
Viterbi is also known as the co-founder of Qualcomm, Inc. and is internationally recognized in the field of digital communication. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the country’s highest honor for scientific achievement.