Seattle Biomedical Research Institute

Charting the future of life-saving innovation


In the mid-2000s, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) had experienced a decade of dramatic growth. What began as a small collaboration of scientists in a garage 30 years before was now an organization of more than 200 employees and an annual budget of more than $20 million. It had become the largest nonprofit organization in the United States focused on finding cures for the world’s most devastating infectious diseases. In 2004 the organization moved into a new building in the South Lake Union area, was expecting a significant drop in funding from a long-time governmental funder, and was looking to establish clear direction for the next five years of organizational growth. SBRI’s Board of Directors had varying degrees of knowledge about the scientific agenda established by the organization’s scientists. It was important that both the scientific staff and the predominantly lay board reach agreement on the future direction of the organization.


Cedar River Group was hired to plan and lead a strategic process for the Board and staff at SBRI. Our team created a steering committee of board and staff that met monthly to pursue coordinated action. A “SWOT” team undertook frank, internal analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and developed specific strategies for change. From retreats to individual interviews to oversight of planning and action, Cedar River Group served as strategic coordinator.


In June of 2005, SBRI’s board unanimously approved and funded “SBRI 2010,” a five-year strategic plan of five clear goals and tangible steps to achieve each: (1) Sustain Scientific Innovation and Excellence; (2) Create and Maintain an Environment for Success; (3) Secure Flexible Funding; (4) Advance Discoveries Through Partnerships; and (5) Expand Global Leadership Impact.

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