Viterbis Give $1M to Sanford-Burnham's Stem Cell Research

Andrew Viterbi, a co-founder of Qualcomm, and his wife Erna gifted $1 millon to establish Sanford-Burnham's Neurosciences Research Initiative.

Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi, his wife Erna and their family recently donated $1 million to Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The research institute announced the gift this week, which will establish a new research initiative.

Sanford-Burnham said 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. Sanford-Burnham researchers will then use these cell-based models to better understand the underlying causes of disease.

In a statement, Andrew Viterbi said he has been actively involved with the Institute for nearly 30 years.

“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," he said in the statement. "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 Dr. John Reed, Sanford-Burnham has become the place to embark on a project such as this.”

Dr. John C. Reed, Sanford-Burnham CEO and Donald Bren Chief Executive Chair, and Dr. Evan Y. Snyder, director of the Institute’s Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology Program, will lead the research. 

“Technologies enabled by stem cell science are opening new doors for translational medicine,” said Dr. Reed in the statement. “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.”

Andrew Viterbi earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where the engineering school is now named the Viterbi School of Enginnering. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science and sits on several other boards, including The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.


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