WARF Therapeutics announces partnership with Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Test Tubes SBP, WARF

As part of its strategic initiative to bring new pharmaceuticals closer to patients, WARF Therapeutics announces a new partnership with Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. Sanford Burnham Prebys is an independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to understanding basic human biology and disease, and to advancing scientific discoveries to profoundly impact human health. The Institute's Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (Prebys Center) is one of the most advanced drug discovery centers in the nonprofit world. 

WARF Therapeutics was established as a major new program of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) in 2018. Its mission is to identify promising biological discoveries on the UW–Madison campus that are relevant to human disease. WARF Therapeutics will invest in validated targets, design and develop drug-like molecules, and ultimately partner them with the venture capital community, pharmaceutical organizations and biotech companies. Jonathan Young, Ph.D., an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in large pharma and biotech, was recently hired, after a nationwide search, to build and lead WARF Therapeutics. 

Young says, “WARF’s collaboration with Sanford Burnham Prebys will help us accelerate translation of promising research by providing the essential discovery and early development expertise required. Furthermore, this partnership will help WARF Therapeutics continue the legacy of pharmaceutical innovation at UW–Madison and ultimately deliver novel medicines to patients with unmet medical needs.”

Under the terms of the 5-year agreement, WARF and UW–Madison scientists will work with scientists at the Prebys Center to transition clinically relevant targets to early-stage drug discovery, including assay development and high-throughput screening to identify chemical compounds that modulate the activity of the targets. The Prebys Center’s compound library is a collection of more than 1 million diverse chemicals. Validated “hits” from this library can be developed into prototype drugs.

“The Prebys Center is like a magnet that attracts collaborators and partnerships with like-minded researchers who seek to discover new therapeutics for diseases with serious clinical unmet needs,” says Michael Jackson, Ph.D., senior vice president of drug discovery and development at Sanford Burnham Prebys. “We look forward to a productive partnership with WARF that will lead to therapies for diseases in need of a cure.”


Sanford Burnham Prebys holds an analogous partnership with the Mayo Clinic that began in 2012. The agreement outlines efforts to build a pipeline of therapeutic drugs aimed at a variety of diseases with serious unmet clinical needs. 

About WARF
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) helps steward the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment for the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Founded in 1925 as an independent, nonprofit foundation, WARF manages more than 2,000 patents and an investment portfolio of $2.7 billion as it funds university research, obtains patents for campus discoveries and licenses inventions to industry. For more information, visit warf.org and view WARF’s Cycle of Innovation.

About WARF Therapeutics
Consistent with WARF’s mission to support UW–Madison research and make a global impact, WARF Therapeutics is a major initiative to move new pharmaceuticals closer to market. The program will take select assets and lead them through preclinical development, towards commercialization and the benefit of human lives. More at warf.org/therapeutics.

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