Biology is the study of living organisms, an almost limitless subject covering an enormous range of scientific disciplines – various sources list more than 70 sub-disciplines in biology – from the basic structure of molecules and the intricate mechanisms of our cells to the power of genomics and the driving forces of evolution. Biological research depends on the interplay of these disciplines to tackle the most vexing problems.
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) stands out among research institutes worldwide in that it not only covers many biological disciplines, but also combines them with the power of chemistry. In this, TSRI has been a global pioneer.
Among the many areas of biological studies at TSRI are molecular biology, which deals with such fundamental phenomena as DNA, RNA, and proteins; cell biology, which studies the interactions, chemical and molecular, that make our cells work; structural biology, which looks at the architecture of large molecules; and pharmacology, which uses biology to understand the effects of drugs on an organism.
TSRI scientists have made great strides in areas including microbiology, encompassing the study of infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and prions, and immunology, the study of the immune system's defenses against such pathogens. The institute's investigators have produced breakthrough results in the study of the hepatitis C virus, which infects more than 100 million people worldwide; prions, the cause of "mad cow" disease and its human counterparts; and HIV/AIDS, a global scourge that has so far eluded attempts to create a vaccine.
TSRI investigators have also made striking discoveries in genetics and the role of novel types of RNA in diseases such as autism and Fragile X. In the study of neuroscience, TSIR scientists have uncovered the individual neurons that create and hold our memories, as well as elucidating a variety of disorders relating to the brain, from Alzheimer's to addiction and schizophrenia to Parkinson's. In the study of receptors that can turn proteins on and off to fight disease or encourage it, the institute's investigators have uncovered the molecular structures that play roles in cancers and aging. TSRI scientists have also made a number of breakthrough discoveries in the understanding of stem cells in the laboratory and the conversion of mature cells to an embryonic-like state.
With the recent establishment of the Scripps Florida campus, the institute has added early-stage drug development to its repertoire, combining basic biological studies with the adaptive power of medicinal chemistry and powerful screening technologies to produce potential therapeutics for a number of diseases.
The institute's faculty include renowned biologists, including Gerald Edelman, winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries relating to the structure of antibody molecules, and dozens of members of such esteemed societies as the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
TSRI is ranked among the top biology institutes in the world. In 2010, the institute was ranked the world's second most influential institution in microbiology, according to data provided by Thomson Reuters' Essential Science Indicators published in The Times Higher Education. In 2009, a similar Thomson Reuters survey ranked the institute 13th worldwide in neuroscience.
The institute’s standing in biology is reflected in its graduate program, the Kellogg School of Science and Technology. In 2010, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Kellogg School seventh in the nation in biological studies. In addition, the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, published in the January 12, 2007 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, rated the Kellogg School faculty best in the nation in biophysics, second in immunology, and seventh in biochemistry.
For more information on TSRI's scientific achievements, see a list of highlights.