The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) today is the result of the inspiration, vision, and hard work of many people over the years. Here are some of the dates that mark important turning points in the institute’s history.
1924 – Inspired in part by the discovery of insulin, philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps founds the Scripps Metabolic Clinic on December 11, 1924, a specialized facility to diagnose, treat, and investigate diabetes and other disorders of metabolism. The clinic is initially part of Scripps Memorial Hospital (founded in September of the same year), which is run by Dr. James Sherrill.
1928 – Dr. Eaton MacKay is invited from Stanford to become the first director of research.
1932 – When Ellen Browning Scripps passes away at the age of 95, she leaves $300,000 (or the equivalent of more than $4 million in today’s dollars) in her will to the Metabolic Clinic “preferably for research.”
1946 – The Metabolic Clinic separates from Scripps Memorial Hospital. A major portion of the operation’s limited reserves are committed to the construction of a new research facility and to the recruitment of biomedical scientists.
1955 – Physician and researcher Edmund Keeney becomes director after Sherrill’s death. That same year, a West Annex is completed in downtown La Jolla to house divisions of gastroenterology, allergy, and clinical immunology. Within the next few years, a number of new divisions are added.
1956 - The name of the institution becomes the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation to reflect its broader focus.
1959 – The institute recruits noted biochemist A. Baird Hastings from Harvard University, whose laboratory conducts basic science. The next year he receives a seven-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, although he had only requested a grant for three. In the meantime, the institution is preparing to build a major research laboratory building, the Timken Sturgis Research Laboratories, completed in 1965.
1961 - Pioneering immunologist Frank Dixon and four of his colleagues (William Weigle, Joseph Feldman, Charles Cochrane, and Jacinto Vazquez) arrive from the University of Pittsburgh on July 1, establishing a Division of Experimental Pathology. They were drawn to the institute by the freedom to pursue research without the administrative constraints of a typical university, as well as the beginnings of a biomedical research cluster in the area. (See Dixon scrapbooks.)
1962 –Biochemist Frank Huennekens arrives from the University of Washington Medical School to head the Biochemistry Division. Three years later, microbiologist John Spizizen arrives from the University of Minnesota to establish and lead a Division of Microbiology. (See the Scientific Reports from this period for more information.)
1970 –Dixon is appointed chair of the biomedical research operations as well as continuing his position as head of the Division of Experimental Pathology. Dixon's responsibilities at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation expand further in 1974 when he is named director; Keeney remains president.
1974 –Ground is broken on a new site on the Torrey Pines mesa.
1977 – Charles C. Edwards, formerly the nation’s top government health official, is named president and CEO of Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation upon Keeney's retirement. This same year, the multiple research programs that had developed (including cell and molecular biology and synthetic and bioorganic chemistry) are formally drawn together into the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic.
1980 – Research operations, for years split between downtown La Jolla and the Torrey Pines mesa, are consolidated at the site on the Torrey Pines mesa.
1987 – Richard Lerner, chair of the Scripps Department of Molecular Biology, is appointed the research institute's new director after Dixon's retirement. Under Lerner’s leadership, the research operations will triple in size and eminent scientists—including K.C. Nicolaou (1989), K. Barry Sharpless (1990), and Gerald Edelman (1992), to name only a few—will join the research institute's faculty.
1989 – A graduate program is launched, building on the institute's strengths in the integration of cell and molecular biology, structure, and chemistry. The graduate program will later be named The Kellogg School of Science and Technology in honor of philanthropists Janet R. ("Jean") Kellogg and W Keith Kellogg II.
1991 - Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and Scripps Memorial Hospital reaffiliate, merging to become the Scripps Institutions of Medicine and Science. The research institute—now named The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)—becomes a legal nonprofit entity affiliated with this larger conglomerate.
1993 – The Scripps Research Institute separates from Scripps Health to become an independent organization.
1996 –The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology is established at TSRI, thanks to a $100 million donation from the Skaggs family. Gifts from donors such as John Moores, Helen Dorris, and Mark Pearson make possible other centers at the institute, including the Pearson Center for Research on Alcoholism and Addiction (2003), Worm Institute for Research and Medicine (2005), and the consolidated Dorris Neuroscience Center (2010).
2003 - TSRI announces the establishment of a major science center in Palm Beach County, Florida, focusing on biomedical research, technology development and drug design, funded by the State of Florida via economic development funds as well as local government.
2009 – The new Florida facility, comprising three state-of-the-art buildings and more than 350,000 square feet of space, opens in Jupiter. Research on the new campus focuses on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development.
2012 - Biochemist Michael A. Marletta takes office as president and CEO of TSRI.
2014 - James Paulson, chair of TSRI's Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, is appointed acting president and CEO.
2015 - TSRI names chemist Peter G. Schultz a CEO and biologist Steve A. Kay as president.