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Sanford Health researchers invited to Vatican City

This is an amazing time in the world of medicine. At an unprecedented speed, scientific advancements are being made in adult stem cells, immunotherapy and genomic medicine.

And Sanford Health is a driving force in these endeavors, on the verge of breakthroughs in cancer, the regeneration of cells, advanced genetic therapy, pharmacogenetics and device design.

Because of our determination to impact health on a global level the Vatican extended an invitation to Sanford Health to present on its work at The Third International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and Its Cultural Impact on April 28 to 30, 2016 in Vatican City.

During this global conference, Sanford Health was humbled to be awarded the Pontifical Key Innovation Award. The award recognizes game-changing medical innovation exemplified by transformative thinking, creativity and ingenuity used to deliver the highest quality of medical care. Sanford employees are recognized for strides made in children’s health, cancer, type 1 diabetes, genetics and genomics, and biobanking for research and clinical purposes. Strides that would not have been possible without the generosity of philanthropist Denny Sanford.

Those in attendance explored how science, technology and communication will allow those in the medical field to personalize medical solutions for individual patients and help remove inefficiencies, thereby reducing costs and improving individual care. The goal of the gathering was to foster an open dialogue among researchers, medical practitioners, religious leaders, political figures and innovators to explore the social and cultural impact of these new treatment modalities.

Visit the conference’s website here.

To learn more about the work at Sanford Research, click here.


David Pearce, PhD

President of Sanford Research, Researcher at Sanford Children’s Research Center

Dr. Pearce presented twice at the conference. He spoke on the work Sanford is performing on rare disease research and again on The Sanford Project, the initiative to cure type 1 diabetes. The presentation included information on a recently launched clinical trial that is studying whether the immune system can be rebalanced to correct diabetes. 


Jill Weimer, PhD

Scientist and Director of the Sanford Children’s Research Center

Dr. Weimer presented on her exciting research on Batten disease, an extremely rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder that begins in childhood. Sanford Health has one of the few labs in the world focused on this type of research. Dr. Weimer’s lab recently developed a gene therapy treatment for a form of Batten, the first such treatment in the world.


Eckhard Alt, MD, PhD

The Sanford Project’s Todd & Linda Broin Distinguished Professor and Chair Dr. Alt is a world-renowned physician and presented on cell therapy. He has developed novel therapies used in medical practice. 


Philip Schoettle, MD, PhD

Physician, surgeon and scientist

Dr. Schoettle is a physician at ISAR hospital in Germany, and collaborator with Sanford World Clinics in Munich. He spoke on the potential of using cell therapy in in orthopedic procedures like reconstructive knee surgeries.