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Salk Institute receives $25 million gift from former Salk trustee Conrad T. Prebys

Conrad T. Prebys

In June, the Salk Institute received a milestone gift: $25 million from San Diego philanthropist and former Salk trustee Conrad T. Prebys, to support cutting-edge biological research on a wide range of diseases. The gift is the single largest ever to the Institute’s endowment, and in honor of Prebys’ generosity, the Salk Institute auditorium, which regularly hosts talks by some of the world’s most prominent scientists, has been named the Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium.

“The scientists at Salk are diving deep into understanding how our bodies operate at the molecular level and what happens when we get sick,” says Prebys, a prominent real estate developer and stalwart supporter of San Diego institutions. “It is vital work that must be done before we can really conquer disease. We need this foundational science to lay the underpinnings for new therapies and cures. I’m honored to play a role in supporting this important research.”

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Prebys was raised in a neighborhood where most of the residents worked in local factories. Encouraged by an inspirational teacher, he was the first of five brothers to graduate from a university. He went on to found Progress Construction Company, a developer of real estate enterprises in California and Texas.

When he was a child, Prebys’ brother contracted polio, and he saw the power of scientific research to cure disease when Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine.

Prebys has long been a supporter of the Salk Institute and previously served on the Institute’s Board of Trustees. Earlier, he gave $2 million to establish the Conrad T. Prebys Endowed Chair in Vision Research for Thomas Albright, one of the Institute’s neuroscientists. He has also been a longtime supporter of Symphony at Salk, the Institute’s annual gala.

His latest gift contributes to the Campaign for Salk, the Institute’s first-ever fundraising campaign, and will help grow the Institute’s unrestricted endowment–one of the priorities of the campaign. Funding from unrestricted endowment allows the Institute to address its most critical research needs by providing flexibility in how the funding is used.

The Campaign for Salk was launched publicly in January 2012, with the goal of raising $300 million by July 2015. Prebys’ gift brings the total raised so far to more than $275 million.

“Mr. Prebys is renowned for his remarkable generosity and his vision in boosting San Diego by supporting its pillar institutions,” says Salk president William Brody. “His gift to Salk’s unrestricted endowment provides the financial flexibility for Salk to adapt and thrive as technology, science and human needs evolve, leaving a lasting legacy.”