A gift from John and Susan Major will fund construction of a new clinical center at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Rendering courtesy of La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

A gift from John and Susan Major will fund construction of a new clinical center at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Rendering courtesy of La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology has announced plans for new construction after receiving a gift from John Major, chairman emeritus of the institute’s board of directors, and his wife, Susan.

The La Jolla Institute (LJI) announced the gift on Dec. 28. Financial terms were undisclosed. Funds will go toward the construction of a new clinical research center.

The John and Susan Major Center for Clinical Investigation will initially fuel the institute’s research into COVID-19, and then help support studies into other infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

This critical infrastructure will aid LJI investigations through subject recruitment and consent, donor blood draws and the 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,” said LJI President Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.

In recent years, LJI scientists have increasingly turned their attention to studying human immune responses. This work requires human blood samples for analysis. Although 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 will consolidate scattered rooms 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,” said John Major.

John and Susan Major have long supported critical LJI initiatives. A board member since 2009, John Major served as LJI board chair from 2010 to 2019. In 2016, the Majors gave a landmark gift to support the merging of precision medicine and immunotherapy at LJI. Their support was instrumental in recruiting Ferhat Ay, Ph.D., a renowned bioinformatics expert, to LJI.

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

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

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology is dedicated to understanding the intricacies and power of the immune system so that humanity may apply that knowledge to promote human health and prevent a wide range of diseases. Since its founding in 1988 as an independent, nonprofit research organization, the institute has made numerous advances leading toward its goal: life without disease.