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La Jolla Institute for Immunology to use gift to build new clinical center

A rendering depicts the John and Susan Major Center for Clinical Investigation at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
A rendering depicts the planned John and Susan Major Center for Clinical Investigation at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
(La Jolla Institute for Immunology)

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology has received a gift from John Major, chairman emeritus of LJI’s board of directors, and his wife, Susan, to fund construction of a new clinical research center.

The John and Susan Major Center for Clinical Investigation will initially fuel LJI research into COVID-19 and then help support studies of other infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases. The amount of the Majors’ gift was not disclosed.

The center will be in the current LJI building in UC San Diego’s Science Research Park, with an entrance adjacent to the main entryway. Construction is expected to begin in January and be completed by April.

The facility will aid LJI investigations through subject recruitment and consent, donor blood draws and processing of donor samples for analysis.

“Expanding these services at LJI will allow us to study more individuals and more diseases, opening the door to increased understanding so we can help to find new drug and vaccine candidates for some of the world’s deadliest diseases,” LJI President Mitchell Kronenberg said in a statement.

In recent years, LJI scientists have increasingly turned their attention to studying human immune responses. The work requires human blood samples for analysis. Though much can be learned from healthy donors, there is a growing need for samples from donors affected by COVID-19, cardiovascular disease, cancers and other conditions. The new center is intended to streamline the sample donation process and increase capacity.

“We’re proud to, in a small way, contribute to the wonderful work that the La Jolla Institute does,” John Major, a board member since 2009, said in a statement.

In 2016, the Majors gave a gift to support the merging of precision medicine and immunotherapy at LJI.

“John and Susan Major’s longtime advocacy for biomedical research and for LJI has been extraordinarily helpful in bringing new discoveries to light,” Kronenberg said. “Their leadership and significant generosity will have a lasting impact at LJI and in the field of immunology.”

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.