T. Denny Sanford Commits $100 Million for Study of Empathy, Compassion

T. Denny Sanford Commits $100 Million for Study of Empathy, Compassion

The University of California, San Diego has announced a "landmark" gift from T. Denny Sanford to create an institute focused on the neurology of compassion and physician burnout.

Reported to be $100 million, the gift will create and launch the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion within the UC San Diego School of Medicine. With the aim of developing new ways of promoting the well-being of clinicians and their patients, the institute will identify and map brain activity created by empathic behavior, quantify the factors that promote or inhibit compassionate behavior, and design new methods for boosting empathic signals in the brain.

In addition to integrating compassion-centered methods into training modules, the institute will address the issue of burnout among physician and other health professions, including medical students, through validated instruction of self-compassion, mindfulness training, and a heightened focus on mental health.

In 2013, Sanford gave UCSD $100 million to launch the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center and in 2008 committed $30 million to a stem cell consortium that included the university.

"I have been inspired by the work and teachings of the Dalai Lama, whose interest in the intersection where science and faith meet is deep and profound," said Sanford. "I have had the opportunity to see how grace, humanity, and kindness can change people and the world. This gift extends that vision. Doctors work in a world where compassion is essential, but often lost in the harsh realities of modern medicine. If we can help medical professionals preserve and promote their compassion, based on the findings of hard science, the world can be a happier, healthier place."

"With Landmark Gift, UC San Diego Will Map Compassion in the Brain, Tthen Prove iIts Power." University of California, San Diego Press Release 07/22/2019. Gary Robbins. "Denny Sanford Gives UCSD $100M for Landmark Studies of Empathy, Compassion." San Diego Union-Tribune 07/23/2019.