The Scripps Research Institute

Overview

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is a not-for profit organization that performs basic biomedical research in molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, immunology, neuroscience, disease, and vaccine development (2).  TSRI believes in the pursuit of fundamental scientific advances through interdisciplinary programs and collaborations, and the education and training of researchers preparing to meet the scientific challenges of the future (1a).

TSRI’s staff includes more than 3,000 scientists and lab technicians.  The organization traces its history back to 1924, when philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps founded Scripps Metabolic Clinic (2).

Facilities and Research Initiatives

The Scripps Research Institute has two campuses: its headquarters in La Jolla, CA, and a new facility in Jupiter, FL (1a).  TRSI opened its second facility in Florida in 2009 (2).

The Scripps Research Institute has achieved many breakthroughs in various medical issues including detailing the structure of a number of human antibodies that neutralize many different strains of HIV/AIDS, showing for the first time that addiction-like molecular changes are behind the compulsion to overeat and developing an agent that reversed Huntington’s disease symptoms in mice (1b).

The Scripps Research Institute also works in the field of nanotechnology and holds U.S. Patent No. US 7,375,234 B2, which covers a broad class of chemical reactions that mimic biological efficiency and opens the door to a new world of chemistry. The patent's diverse potential applications include the development of new drugs, bioactive nanomaterials, anti-bacterial and non-immunogenic coatings for medical implants, coatings for semiconductors, coatings and adhesives for ships’ hulls, self-healing materials, microelectronics and responsive nanomaterials, and surface-sensitive adhesives.  The patented technology stems from the discovery that, under proper conditions, copper can quickly and reliably catalyze members of two large chemical groups, azides and alkynes. Using copper-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition, TSRI scientists have already identified molecules with potential for fighting AIDS, nicotine addiction, and other conditions (4).

TSRI sponsors and conducts many educational programs including the Kellogg School of Science and Technology and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) Program (1a).

Strategic Partnerships

TSRI receives the majority of its funding from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (2).  In addition, grantors include the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the Juvenile Diabetes Association. Private foundations that have provided support include the ALSAM Foundation, Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, W.M. Keck Foundation, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ellison Medical Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Harold L. Dorris Foundation (1a).

The organization also partners with pharmaceutical companies and is affiliated with the Scripps hospital group (2).  The Scripps Research Institute is involved in a project with Penn State to study how messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules vary in their function in individual cells.  This is a five-year study with $10 million in grant funds from the National Institutes of Health. The goal of the Penn grant is to characterize the variability in identity and abundance of RNA molecules that are transcribed from the genome of human neurons and heart cells (3).

Sources

  1. The Scripps Research Institute (2012). Retrieved on November 19, 2012.
    1. “Facts-at-a-Glance” from www.scripps.edu/about/facts.html
    2. “Scientific Achievements” from www.scripps.edu/about/achievements.html
  2. Hoover’s, Inc. (2012). “The Scripps Research Institute.” Retrieved on November 19, 2012
  3. University of Pennsylvania Almanac (2012, November, 20). “$10 Million from NIH to Penn Researchers for Innovative Research on Single Cells.” Retrieved on November 20, 2012 from www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v59/n13/nih.html   
  4. AZoNano (2008, May 21).  “The Scripps Research Institute Awarded Patent that May Lead to Drugs, Bioactive Nanomaterials, Anti-Bacterial Coatings and Responsive Nanomaterials.” Retrieved on November 20, 2012 from www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=6447