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Paul Schimmel Elected to American Philosophical Society

La Jolla, CA. May 18, 1999 -- Paul R. Schimmel, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society at its recent Annual General Meeting in Philadelphia. Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, the society is the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to the advancement of scientific and scholarly inquiry. Members are organized into five classes: mathematical and physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts, learned professions, and public affairs.

Schimmel's major research interests have concentrated on the decoding of genetic information, with an emphasis on the rules of the universal genetic code, work that has placed him "squarely in the middle of the origin of life question," according to a colleague. His laboratory uncovered an operational RNA code for amino acids which related specific sequences/structures in small RNA oligonucleotides to specific aminoacylations. He and his coworkers were also among the first to establish the modular design of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. He later showed how this design relates to the operational RNA code and its relationship to the genetic code.

Prior to his appointment to TSRI's faculty in 1997, Schimmel was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is the author or co-author of many scientific papers and of a widely used three-volume textbook on biophysical chemistry. He was a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the American Chemical Society's Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, and was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been active in many scientific and academic organizations and committees, including service as Chairman of the Division of Biological Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and as an editorial board member of ten different scientific journals. Having a longstanding interest in the applications of basic biomedical research to human health, Schimmel holds several patents and is a co-founder of four biotechnology companies. These companies are developing new therapies for human diseases and disorders. He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and holds a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Other TSRI faculty who have been elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society are Floyd Bloom, M.D., Chairman, Department of Neuropharmacology, and Gerald Edelman, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Neurobiology, and Director, The Neurosciences Institute.

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