Scottsdale man donates millions for health research

June 13, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: The Arizona Republic, Kate Nolan] – Scottsdale resident T. Denny Sanford gave $400 million to a South Dakota health system in 2007.

A year earlier, he dropped more than $400,000 with Scottsdale’s Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Now he’s stepping up to the donor plate for diabetes.

Sanford, who made billions in banking and credit card businesses, mostly in South Dakota, recently committed $30 million to find a cure for Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. The funds will support researchers in Arizona, South Dakota and California.

Type 1 diabetes affects nearly 3 million Americans.

The Sanford Project, which handles Sanford’s health philanthropy, will partner with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in supporting beta cell regeneration research. In theory, the beta cell technology can stimulate the immune system to cure the disease.

“I look at philanthropy as an investment. This is the best return on the investment. We believe it is possible to cure diabetes through beta cell regeneration,” Sanford said.

He wants to put a dent in the estimated $174 billion U.S. annual cost of the disease. Sanford expects to invest a total of $100 million in curing diabetes.

The juvenile diabetes group has been in talks with Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute to develop a collaboration, but no agreements are yet in place, according to both organizations.

Sanford’s interest in Arizona may lead to creation of several pediatric centers around the state, possibly in Scottsdale, he said.

“There’s a lack of pedes care around the country. Pediatrics is not a high-paying business. But we recognize the need, so that’s what we’re doing,” Sanford said.