Public Release: 

Burnham chosen as Comprehensive Center in new National Cancer Institute Chemical Biology Consortium

Drug discovery partnership will translate basic research into new cancer drug candidates

Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

LA JOLLA, Calif. and ORLANDO, Fla., August 10, 2009 - Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) has been selected as a comprehensive center in a new National Cancer Institute (NCI) Chemical Biology Consortium, an integrated network of chemical biologists, molecular oncologists and chemical screening centers. The consortium will establish a new paradigm in the use of public-private partnerships to translate knowledge from leading academic institutions into new drug treatments for patients with cancer. Both the La Jolla, Calif. campus of Burnham and its new Lake Nona campus in Orlando, Fla. will participate in the consortium.

The highly collaborative program will use state-of-the-art communications, data-sharing and project management tools. The NCI seeks to coordinate their own drug discovery efforts with those of academic institutions and private-sector companies in order to expedite the development of promising new therapeutics for cancer and to speed their entry into oncologic practice. The strategy is to expand current NCI programs in personalized medicine by applying a collaborative approach to assemble the skills and resources necessary to identify and advance novel drug candidates in high-risk, under-represented areas of cancer biology.

"Burnham's strategic focus for the past five years has been on building our capabilities in chemical genomics and drug discovery," said John Reed, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Burnham. "The Chemical Biology Consortium gives Burnham an additional platform to use our advanced technologies, some of which are virtually unprecedented in the not-for-profit research world. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this national effort to develop innovative cancer medicines of the future."

The network allows scientists from around the country to use the expertise and resources of the screening centers to identify compounds that serve as research tools in the process of validating targets for more advanced drug discovery efforts. The NCI Chemical Biology Consortium, in which Burnham will partner as one of three comprehensive centers in the nation, will discover and refine compounds directed at cancer-relevant targets, advancing these potential therapies from the laboratory and into human clinical trials.

In September 2008, Burnham was awarded a $98 million grant to establish one of four comprehensive national screening centers as part of the National Institute of Health's (NIH) Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN). Burnham's chemical genomics center recently received a gift of $10 million from philanthropist Conrad Prebys resulting in the renaming of the center to The Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics.


The Chemical Biology Consortium project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal Funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. NO1-CO-12400. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

About Burnham Institute for Medical Research

Burnham Institute for Medical Research is dedicated to revealing the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Burnham, with operations in California and Florida, is one of the fastest growing research institutes in the country. The Institute ranks first worldwide for its research publications in the fields of biology and biochemistry for the past decade (citations per paper) and is among the top four institutions nationally for NIH grant funding. Burnham utilizes a unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, infectious and inflammatory and childhood diseases. The Institute is known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies. Burnham is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation. For more information, please visit

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