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Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center Open House highlights collaboration, innovation

sign that reads 'sanford burnham prebys' placed outside of the building in La Jolla

Wanting to make its “groundbreaking” work in cancer approachable, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center hosted an Open House Sept 27 at its campus on North Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla.

The Cancer Center Open House is held three times a year, each focusing on a different cancer. 

The September version, hosted by Sanford Burnham Prebys’s Community Advisory Board,  highlighted the complexities of breast cancer and included scientists’ presentations of their discoveries, tours of research labs, and more to connect those entrenched in biomedical work with those who need it – patients and their families – along with other community members curious about efforts.

Topics such as overcoming drug resistance and reducing disparities in outcomes were explored through opportunities to meet with researchers and people affected by breast cancer, along with highlighting new treatment approaches. 

Cancer expert Svasti Haricharan milled about the Open House, approachable for questions, as others listened to poster presentations and remarks from Cancer Center administrators.

The Open House came on the heels of the announcement that Sanford Burnham Prebys earned a Merit Extension Award from the National Cancer Institute, extending the center’s current five-year Cancer Center Support Grant for an additional two years.

The grant extension is rare, according to Sanford Burnham Prebys External Advisory Board member Patti Wiley, who has been involved in the NCI review process for years.

“It’s huge,” she said, noting the extension “speaks highly” of Sanford Burnham Prebys’ leadership and scientists.

Sanford Burnham Prebys is “groundbreaking,” Wiley said, “because there are no patients to be treated. We’re going in at the very bottom and saying, ‘This is what we see; this is what we need.’”

Sharing that work with patients and families is important, she said, adding her husband and daughter both survived cancer.

Being able to thank the researchers who contribute to cancer treatment is valuable, Wiley said.

Opening the Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center’s doors highlights how the institute is unique, said Cancer Center Director Ze’ev Ronai.

What sets Sanford Burnham Prebys apart is the Cancer Center can work directly with the institute’s Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics for drug discovery, Ronai said.

This collaboration generates “a continuum that does not exist” elsewhere, he said, which means when a discovery is made in the Cancer Center, researchers are able to connect to Prebys Center drugs and screening protocols quickly to further the development of effective mechanisms for treatment.

Sanford Burnham Prebys also makes its research available to other cancer centers in the nation. 

Locally, Sanford Burnham Prebys works closely with the other La Jolla NCI-designated cancer centers: UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center and the Salk Institute Cancer Center, to combine expertise.

“That has been working very well,” Ronai said.

From left: Eric Dudl Endowed Scholarship winner Kelly Yichen Li, scientist Kevin Yip, Cancer Center director Ze’ev Ronai, and Dudl’s parents, Jim and Barb Dudl. (photo by Racheal McCabe)

The Open House also announced the winner of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Eric Dudl Endowed Scholarship Fund, named for a postdoctoral cancer researcher at the institute who died of cancer in 2006 at 33. 

This year’s Eric Dudl Endowed Scholarship Fund is Sanford Burnham Prebys postdoctoral scientist Kelly Yichen Li.

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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