NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
July 22, 2008 • Volume 5 / Number 15 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Cancer Center ProfileCancer Center Profile

Burnham Institute for Medical Research Cancer Center
Director: Dr. Kristiina Vuori • 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037 • Phone: 858-646-3100 • Web site:

Burnham Institute for Medical Research Cancer Center Background
Founded in 1976 as the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) is dedicated to finding new ways to fight cancer and other diseases, guided by the belief that the most substantial breakthroughs in fighting disease come from basic scientific inquiries into the inner workings of cells and their related molecules. The Institute is highly collaborative, merging the talents of biologists with chemists, biophysicists, engineers, and computer scientists to tackle today's great unmet medical challenges.

Burnham is home to one of the leading basic cancer research centers in the world, focused on fundamental research into the molecular properties of cancer. Burnham has been an NCI-designated Cancer Center since 1981, one of only seven such basic research centers in the nation. Burnham's Cancer Center includes programs in: tumor microenvironment, tumor development, signal transduction, and apoptosis and cell death research.

The Cancer Center mobilizes more than 400 staff who work to stop cancer before it develops, detect cancer at its earliest point, and eliminate cancer's deadly spread. Other major efforts include developing targeting technologies that deliver anticancer drugs directly to tumors, thereby avoiding serious side effects, and technologies to trick cancer cells into committing suicide by restoring the body's natural mechanisms for cell death.

The institute is bridging the gap between basic biological research, in which Burnham has traditionally excelled, and efforts to identify new targets for cancer therapies. Burnham's Cancer Center has received one of only nine NCI National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group grants. With these resources, Burnham will search for new targets for cancer therapies, looking at the molecules that cancers depend on for growth and survival.

Other Programs
In addition to the NCI-designated Cancer Center, Burnham has four other centers which include the Del E. Webb Neuroscience, Aging and Stem Cell Research Center; the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center; the Diabetes and Obesity Research Center (headquartered at Burnham's Orlando, FL facility); and the Sanford Children's Health Research Center.

These disease-focused centers are supported by an underlying research infrastructure, which provides sophisticated technologies and services to enhance scientific discovery. These core facilities are supported largely by special grants from NIH, including an NIH Blueprint grant that establishes Burnham as the lead organization for one of the nation's first two Centers for Neuroscience and Stem Cell cores. Research is further bolstered by several technology-focused centers that provide specialized support in chemical genomics, proteomics, stem cells, computational modeling and vascular mapping, and bionanotechnology.