Sanford donates to UC San Diego stem cell center

SAN DIEGO (AP) — South Dakota philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has committed $100 million to create a California stem cell clinical center to speed research into new drugs and therapies.

Officials at the University of California, San Diego, said the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center is intended to accelerate development of drugs and therapies derived from human stem cell research through clinical trials and patient therapies.

It will integrate the operations of four locations: the UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center and a nearby proposed clinical space, both scheduled to open in 2016; the UC San Diego Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine; and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

Pradeep K. Khosla, chancellor of UC San Diego, said the center will advance the region’s reputation as an international, collaborative hub for stem cell research.

The center’s clinical trials with patients will help leverage stem cell research being conducted by scientists from UC San Diego, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and The Scripps Research Institute, among others.

“The gift is to extend the research on stem cell cures for humans and to bring human clinical trials out of the laboratory,” Sanford told the Argus Leader ( ) “We are excited about some major potential cures, particularly with neurological diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease, or spinal cord injuries.”

The grant for the stem cell center is the second-largest donation received by the university in its 53-year history.

Sanford has donated more than $1 billion to causes, primarily health related. Many of his projects are in his native South Dakota, where the 77-year-old philanthropist lives.

Sanford is a former Sioux Falls businessman and banker who made much of his fortune in the credit card industry. Most of his donations, about $700 million, have gone to the Sanford Health system based in Sioux Falls. He has pledged to give all his money away. He said he still has close to $1 billion.

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