Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute welcomes five new Trustees

LA JOLLA, Calif., and ORLANDO, Fla., September 18, 2014 – Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) today announced the election of five new members to its Board of Trustees. The Board will grow to 21 members with the addition of the new trustees.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these distinguished industry leaders to the Sanford-Burnham Board at this pivotal time,” said Gregory Lucier, chairman of Sanford-Burnham’s Board of Trustees.  “I am confident that their collective knowledge and business expertise will benefit the Institute as we implement our strategic vision to accelerate the translation of basic research discoveries into innovative therapeutics that improve human health.”

The new trustees include:

David W. Down, managing partner, KMPG, LLP.

Donald Jernigan, Ph.D., president and CEO, Adventist Health System; former president and CEO, Florida Hospital and the system’s Florida division.

Papa” Doug Manchester, chairman, Manchester Financial Group; chairman and publisher, U-T San Diego.

Edward R. Schulak, advisory board member, University of Michigan Health System; co-founder Metro International Trade Services, LLC; co-founder LiteLaser, LLC.

Rasesh Thakkar, senior managing director, Tavistock Group.

“Each of these accomplished leaders believes passionately in the value of our research and understands the challenges facing life-science research organizations,” said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president of Sanford-Burnham. “Their wide-ranging expertise will provide Sanford-Burnham with valuable guidance to successfully navigate those challenges and capitalize on our institutional strengths. We are very excited to have them on the board.”

Biographies for each board member follow below:

About David Down

David (Dave) W. Down has been a managing partner at the San Diego office of KPMG LLP, a Big 4 accounting firm, since 1994. Down joined the San Diego office in 1976 after graduating from San Diego State University and became a partner in 1987. For more than 20 years, Dave has been responsible for client acceptance and retention. He has led all major business development initiatives, and successfully directed human resources, technology, and real estate decisions for the firm.

Dave currently serves on numerous civic and charitable organizations’ board of directors, including Corporate Directors Forum, CONNECT, SDSU’s College of Business Advisory Council, the San Diego County YMCA, the San Diego Theatres, and the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. Dave has previously served on the boards of The Old Globe, United Way, the Greater San Diego Boys and Girls Club, the San Diego Hall of Champions, the Jr. Seau Foundation, and was a founding member of the board of California State University–San Marcos.


About Donald Jernigan

Donald Jernigan, Ph.D., is president and chief executive officer of Adventist Health System. He formerly was executive vice president of Adventist Health System and CEO of Florida Hospital and the health system’s Florida division, executive vice president of Adventist Health System, and CEO of the Multi-State Hospital Division, president of Tennessee Christian Medical Center, and Adventist Health System’s Tennessee/Georgia region. Jernigan also previously served as senior vice president of Adventist Health System and president of Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, Texas.

Jernigan has a doctor of philosophy degree in physical chemistry from Baylor University and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Healthcare Executives, chairman of the board of Florida Hospital, and member of the Governor’s Council of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Jernigan has also served on the boards of United Way and several chambers of commerce, as well as many other health-care boards.

About Papa” Doug Manchester

“Papa” Doug is chairman of Manchester Financial Group. He is an industrialist with accomplishments in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing, and real estate development. Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development. The completion of the second largest Marriott and Hyatt hotels in the world anchored its success and gave birth to the vast San Diego downtown redevelopment still continuing today.

In addition to the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina and the Manchester Grand Hyatt, his investment and development projects include The Grand Del Mar Resort & Spa, Manchester Executive Center, Manchester Financial Building, and the Whitetail Lodge and Golf Club, and soon a convention center hotel in Austin, Texas. Papa Doug was the catalyst for the biotech cluster at Torrey Pines. Currently, he is chairman and publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He previously served on our Board from 2004-2010.

About Edward R. Schulak

Edward R. Schulak is an architect, entrepreneur, national real estate developer, inventor, and international business leader in both foreign trade and commodities. Schulak graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with degrees in both Fine Arts and Architecture. He also attended St. Johns College of Classical Studies and the Rackham College of Graduate Studies at The University of Michigan. He was certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and licensed as an architect in fourteen states.

He has numerous patents in energy conservation and refrigeration, is published, and has presented papers for the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers. Schulak was co-founder of Metro International Trade Services LLC. The firm is one of the largest logistics and warehouse providers for metal in the world. He also co-founded LiteLaser, LLC, a company that developed a new generation of CO2 lasers, and International Airport Centers, which pioneered and developed air cargo parks throughout the United States. In addition, he has served on numerous charitable, academic, and business boards.

About Rasesh Thakkar

Rasesh “Sesh” Thakkar is senior managing director of Tavistock Group and a member of its board of directors. For the past 20-plus years, Sesh has focused on mergers and acquisitions, operations, and strategic planning for the group. He helps determine overall strategy, targets sectors for investment, and negotiates acquisitions and sales, and transitions acquisitions into the group’s holdings. He has been a key leader in the cities he has lived in and, most recently, has been the leading force in forming Lake Nona’s Medical City, which the Tavistock group owns. He has lived in the United States, South America, and Europe on behalf of the Tavistock.

Currently, he serves on the board of trustees for the Central Florida Partnership, the Governors Council of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, and the board of governors for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando. Sesh is also a member of the state of Florida Governor’s advisory council known as The Florida Council of 100, the board of trustees of the Tavistock Foundation, and the board of directors of the UCF Foundation.


About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute 

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, its NIH-designated Neuroscience Center Cores, and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

Sanford-Burnham can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @sanfordburnham.