(La Jolla, CA, June 27, 2007) The Burnham Institute for Medical Research (“Burnham”) announced today creation of “The Donald Bren Presidential Chair” established with a $2.5 million gift from the Orange County philanthropist and businessman. Mr. Bren honors and supports the work of Dr. John C. Reed, Burnham’s President and CEO. It is the first funded chair to support the work of a distinguished scientist at Burnham.
“I have become deeply impressed with the breathtaking research at Burnham to find promising breakthroughs for significant improvements in health and aging,” said Mr. Bren, Chairman of The Irvine Company, the real estate investment company based in Newport Beach that also has a major office in San Diego. “The growth in size and scope of Burnham’s mission is due in large measure to the energy, focus and leadership of Dr. Reed, himself an impressive working scientist.
“Dr. Reed’s strong leadership also has created a productive culture of collaboration and partnership between scientists at Burnham and other San Diego research institutions, including the Salk Institute, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California, San Diego that may be unprecedented. It is gratifying to be able to contribute in a way that will help ensure the Institute’s excellent work in perpetuity.”
Donald Bren is noted as the country’s 8th most generous philanthropist by Business Week magazine, with a focus on education, research and conservation. Mr. Bren, working through The Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation, has contributed more than $200 million to public schools on The Irvine Ranch in Orange County and to institutions of higher education. His gifts range from major contributions to local public K-12 schools for enrichment programs in the sciences, arts, and music, after-school programs for low-income children, and scholarship awards, to funding 50 endowed chairs for distinguished faculty at universities and research institutions, including more endowed chairs at the University of California than any other single donor in the university’s history. In 2004, in recognition of his wide-ranging support for the University of California system, Mr. Bren was awarded its highest honor, the University of California Presidential Medal. Mr. Bren is a self-described conservationist, whose company under his leadership has protected more than 50,000 acres of parks, open space and wilderness – more than half of the historic Irvine Ranch. He has devoted more than $50 million for the management and improvement of those lands for species preservation and improved public access. Mr. Bren’s many business, civic, and philanthropic accomplishments were honored in April 2007 with election to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Bren has been associated with real estate development and investment in San Diego for more than 30 years, starting in the La Jolla Village area where The Irvine Company today owns both office and apartment complexes. In recent years, his company has made major investments in office buildings in Downtown San Diego.
“As a master builder and visionary planner of the future, Mr. Bren has a special appreciation for the work of our scientists and the leadership that inspires them,” said Nico Nierenberg, Chairman of Burnham’s board. “We are grateful to Mr. Bren and the Donald Bren Foundation for their generosity, and we are honored to have his name grace the President’s Chair.”
In choosing to endow the President’s Chair at Burnham, Mr. Bren has endorsed a leadership tradition that has been key to the organization’s success. Dr. Reed is a working scientist, as were his two predecessors, Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, and the Institute’s founding President, Dr. William Fishman. Fishman, a biochemist, established the Institute with vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and a budget of $200,000. The Institute today employs more than 750 people operating on a budget of $90 million, more than 85% of which is raised by research grants awarded to Burnham’s scientists.
No one knows this success story better than Malin Burnham who has been a Trustee and benefactor of the Institute for more than 25 years.
“Of all my interests in San Diego, none of them has a more profound or far-reaching effect than the medical research that we do here at this Institute,” commented Malin Burnham. “It is the ultimate compliment to attract the focus and commitment of Donald Bren to this organization, and we welcome him aboard.”
Dr. John Reed, recipient of the Donald Bren Presidential Chair, was recruited to the Institute in 1992. Dr. Reed has been a key driver of the organization’s success, as a program leader, director of the Institute’s NCI Cancer Center, as Scientific Director, and, since 2002, as President and CEO. Dr. Reed, while leading the Burnham, has continued to build on his stature as a prominent medical researcher. During 1996-1998, Dr. Reed ranked first among biomedical researchers worldwide for the impact of his research. In 2006, he was named one of the top 10 “Doctors of the Decade” for peer citations of his publications received between 1995-2005, ranking #1 worldwide in the field of general biomedicine. Dr. Reed is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, and serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, companies, and non-profit organizations. In 2004, he was appointed to the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine created by the California’s citizens with approval of ballot initiative Proposition 71 to provide funding for stem cell research. Dr. Reed is the inventor of Oblimersen sodium (GenasenseTM), a DNA-based drug for cancer, which recently successfully completed final Phase III clinical trials.
Burnham Institute for Medical Research conducts world-class collaborative research dedicated to finding cures for human disease, improving quality of life, and thus creating a legacy for its employees, partners, donors, and community. The La Jolla, California campus was established as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation in 1976 and is now home to three major centers: a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Center for Neurosciences and Aging, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Burnham today employs more than 750 people and ranks consistently among the world’s top 20 organizations for the impact of its research publications. In 2006, Burnham established a center for vascular mapping and bionanotechnology in Santa Barbara, California. Burnham is also establishing a campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida that will focus on diabetes and obesity research and will expand the Institute’s drug discovery capabilities, employing over 300 persons. For additional information about Burnham and to learn about ways to support its research, visit www.burnham.org.