Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford has now given away more than $1 billion. His latest donation is $125 million to Sanford Health for a new program that promises to revolutionize health care. That brings Sanford's donations to his namesake total $780 million.
Just like Walt Disney Imagineers create new projects, Sanford Imagenetics promises to create new treatments in medicine. The word "Imagenetics" comes from combining internal medicine and genetic research to transform how patients are treated and disease is prevented, all thanks to the latest gift from well-known philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.
“Someday, the things he is making happen now are going to yield the biggest advancements in medicine,” Sanford Health President & CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft said.
To get to that point, Sanford Health will put millions into research, education and new clinics. But one of the first priorities is to hire leaders in the fields of genetics and internal medicine.
“We're going to be bringing in a leader; we've got three at the top of the list in the country right now. And nobody is doing this. They're all excited about coming here,” Krabbenhoft said.
But that won't be enough. With the scope of what Sanford hopes to do, it will need many more people trained in genetics and internal medicine. And so some of the money is going toward programs at USD's Sanford School of Medicine, Augustana College and other Midwest universities.
“And there are real practical career tracks in genetic counseling. You don't have to become an MD to be a genetic counselor--a very practical thing,” Krabbenhoft said.
Besides new jobs, there are the new facilities planned where genetic research, testing and internal medicine will all come together under one roof. Sanford plans to build these clinics at all of its Midwest locations, starting with Fargo and Sioux Falls.
"And then people can come there and get their genetic profiles and talk to the physicians when they're ailing and get their remedies," Krabbenhoft said.
Sanford is looking at three locations near its Sioux Falls campus to start construction on the 70,000 square foot, $25 million building in the spring of 2015.