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Prebys Center for Drug Discovery

"Our industrial-scale drug discovery capabilities enable scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and elsewhere to directly translate their scientific breakthroughs into the medicines of tomorrow."

- Michael Jackson, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery and Development

About the Prebys Center

The Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (Prebys Center) is SBP’s comprehensive center for drug discovery and chemical biology. With our extensive pharmaceutical/biotech drug discovery and development experience, we are well-positioned to drive projects toward an end goal that will ultimately benefit patients. We have projects in all stages of drug discovery, from target I. D. and validation through preclinical development. We have a strong track record of being the partner of choice for academic, foundation and pharmaceutical partners, as well as generating original research and leads within our group.

The Prebys Center is fully equipped and staffed to conduct world-class drug discovery research. We are experts in assay development, high-throughput screening (HTS), and hit-to-lead/ lead optimization using industry best practices. We have achieved national recognition, selected as one of four comprehensive probe/drug discovery centers of the NIH Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN) and one of seven comprehensive centers in the NCI’s Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC).

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Our vision is to be the world’s leading academic drug discovery and development organization, an epicenter for innovative approaches to accelerate the discovery of new drugs to help save lives and treat disease.

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Our mission is to employ public and private grants, as well as philanthropy and other private gifts, to translate basic research conducted by faculty at SBP and other academic and nonprofit research institutions into new medicines for unmet medical needs, and to partner with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to help bring these new medicines through clinical development and into the market and clinical practice.


Our commitment to our core values has made us one of the leading nonprofit drug discovery organizations in the world today. These values are:
Scientific Excellence

We conduct the rigorous discovery research needed to address difficult questions and provide objective, informative answers.

Technological Development

We continuously develop the new technologies needed to improve the speed and probability of success of our drug discovery and translation efforts.

Focus on translation into medicines

Aware of the urgent needs of tens of millions of patients for new medicines, we focus on diseases and therapeutic areas incompletely served by traditional sources of new medicines innovation to save and extend healthy life.

Stewardship and accountability

We are responsible stewards of the gifted, granted, and partnered resources provided to us, and of the medical and scientific potential inherent in existing and new knowledge uncovered by researchers throughout the world.

Knowledge creation and sharing

We create new knowledge through our research, and through its sharing and publication we enable others to further progress and translate our and their work into new medicines to alleviate patient suffering and save and extend healthy life. We share our experience through advice, consultation, and guidance with others who seek to do the same.


We partner with each other and with fellow scientists and physicians in academia; in public service; in biotech, pharmaceutical, and device companies; and in disease foundations and patient advocacy organizations. We want and need to combine our resources and talents with those of others in order to assemble the multidisciplinary teams necessary for successful drug discovery and development.

Beginning in 2009, the Prebys Center has evolved from a chemical biology and probe production organization focused primarily on projects from the NIH Molecular Libraries program (MLP) to a fully capable drug discovery operation developing New Chemical Entities ready for clinical development. The Center has grown to 80 employees, and has extensive industry experience, with cross-disciplinary expertise, in discovering and developing pharmaceuticals.
The Center’s truly remarkable early drug discovery operation—with state of the art ultra high throughput robots and extensive chemical libraries to identify the starting points for new drugs— was initially developed to enable it to serve as one of only three nationally-designated comprehensive center of the Molecule Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN). During its time as a comprehensive center of the of MLPCN, the Prebys Center worked with investigators from over 50 institutes located throughout the USA, successfully completing 132 high throughput screen and generating 67 chemical probes (validated hits) that were subsequently published.
With the termination of program in 2013, the Center diversified its funding support through establishing collaborative alliances with pharmaceutical companies, health care organizations, disease foundations as well as through more traditional grants and contracts from state and government organizations.
These collaborations and partnerships represent a fundamental shift for the Prebys Center away from being primarily a Core Service to being an originator of drug discovery, and engine for drug development for the Institute and collaborators.


Conrad Prebys

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The Prebys Center is fortunate to have been the recipient of the generosity of this visionary man. In June 2009, Conrad Prebys made a generous $10 million pledge for the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. This gift provided the seed funding to catalyze the Center’s transformation from a core service provider to a state-of-the-art drug discovery center, whose driving mission is to translate scientific breakthroughs into the medicines of tomorrow.

The Prebys Center honors the responsibility Conrad entrusted in it and strives every day to make a difference in research and medicine.