UC San Diego Gets $150M Donation for Stem Cell Research

The donation by billionaire T. Denny Sanford establishes the school as a leader in the development of regenerative and stem-cell based therapies.
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  • T. Denny Sanford’s $150 million donation will establish the UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Institute.
  • Sanford’s previously donated $100 million to the school for stem cell research.
  • His latest gift will help the school conduct stem cell research on the International Space Station.

A $150 million donation to the University of California, San Diego will launch stem cell research in laboratories in California – and in low-Earth orbit.

UC San Diego last week announced the donation by T. Denny Sanford to establish the Sanford Stem Cell Institute. Sanford, the founder of First Premier Bank and the chairman and chief executive officer of its holding company, previously donated $100 million to the school for stem cell research.

Sanford’s latest gift, the largest ever made to UC San Diego, will help the school “keep pace with the growing need for regenerative and stem-cell based therapies and accelerate translational stem cell research and discoveries that will transform human health for years to come,” said Catriona Jamieson, MD, Ph.D, who will serve as director of the new institute.

Human stem cells are the cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. When modified and repurposed, they have the potential to treat and potentially cure a vast array of conditions and diseases.

Sanford’s previous donation already helped fund programs conducting research accelerating stem cell drug and therapy development in regenerative medicine. Among the programs’ successes cited by UC San Diego are new pharmaceutical treatments for myelofibrosis, a type of bone marrow cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia.

This donation will expand that research and create three new programs:

  • The Sanford Stem Cell Education and Integrated Space Stem Cell Orbital Research Program, which will conduct research abroad at the International Space Station.
  • The Sanford Stem Cell Fitness and Space Medicine Program, which will conduct in-depth space fitness and orbital medicine that can benefit both astronauts and people living on Earth.
  • The Sanford Stem Cell Accelerator, which will support regenerative medicine company development, including contract research in low-Earth orbit.

Radiation and microgravity in space can speed up aging in stem cells, the university said in its announcement. Space-related research can also help researchers create better treatments for cancers and other diseases.