Scripps Research Logo

News Release

President of The Scripps Research Institute to Receive Honorary Degree

Monday, March 26, 2001 -- Richard A. Lerner, M.D., President of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has been named a recipient of an honorary degree from the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel. The conferral ceremony will be held in June, 2001, to coincide with the Technion's annual International Board of Governors meeting.

Lerner is being recognized for "outstanding pioneering contributions to chemistry and immunology, and their impact on biocatalysis, and, in particular, the groundbreaking demonstration that antibodies can be converted into enzymes, that catalyze chemical reactions, considered impossible to achieve by classical procedures." Additionally he will be honored for "scientific and public leadership and contributions to the cooperation between the United States and the Technion."

In collaboration with TSRI Professor Peter Schultz, Lerner conceived of and demonstrated the idea that antibodies could selectively catalyze chemical reactions. While it took enzymes acting on natural biological systems millions of years of evolution to reach their present level of efficiency, antibodies can be produced overnight, for obtaining an almost limitless variety of products -- beyond natural ones -- with an efficiency that may exceed that of natural enzymes.

In addition to his groundbreaking discovery of converting antibodies into enzymes, Lerner's work spans a wide range of discoveries, from unique insights into protein and peptide structure to the identification of a sleep-inducing peptide to the genetics of aging. His prolific scientific output has been accomplished with his simultaneous appointment to the presidency of TSRI. His visionary leadership has kept the institute at the frontier of science in several explicit areas, giving the organization particular strength at the intersection of chemistry and biology.

Lerner graduated from Northwestern University and Stanford Medical School. He interned at Palo Alto Stanford Hospital, and received postdoctoral training at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in experimental pathology. Since 1970 he has held staff appointments at Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic (renamed The Scripps Research Institute) in La Jolla. He served as Chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology of the Institute from 1982-1986 prior to assuming the presidency of the organization.

He has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Parke Davis Award in 1978, John A. Muntz Memorial Prize in 1990, San Marino Prize in 1990, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the FASEB, Wellcome Visiting Professor Award in 1990, The College De France Lectureship in 1991, Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 1991, The Tenth Annual Jeanette Piperno Memorial Award in 1991, Sixteenth Annual CIBA-GEIGY Drew Award in Biomedical Research in 1992, Humboldt Research Award in 1994, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1994-1995, the California Scientist of the Year Award in 1996, the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology, Cancer Research Institute, New York; and Windaus- Medal/Award, Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany.

In addition to Charter Membership in the American Society for Virology, Lerner holds memberships in the American Society for Experimental Pathology, American Society of Microbiology, New York Academy of Sciences, Biophysical Society, and the Pluto Society. He is on the editorial boards for the Journal of Virology, Molecular Biology and Medicine, Vaccine, In Vivo, Peptide Research, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Drug Targeting and Delivery, Senior Contributing Editor to PNAS and Chemistry and Biology, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Medicine, and Catalysis Technology.

Lerner was elected Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1985; Member, National Academy of Science USA in 1991; Member, Scientific Policy Advisory Committee, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden in 1991; Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Economic Development Board, Singapore in 1991; Trustee, The Neurosciences Research Foundation, Inc. in 1992; Member, Advisory Board, Chemical & Engineering News in 1994, Member, ETH Institute of Biotechnology Advisory Board, Zurich, in 1994; Member, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Scientific Policy Committee, Stanford, CA., 1995-1998; Member, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology Scientific Advisory Board in 1996; Member, College of Chemistry Advisory Board, University of California, Berkeley, 1996-1997; Member, California Council on Science and Technology Board of Directors, 1996-1997; Member, Advisory Steering Group for Chemistry, California State University, 1996; Member, Academic Committee of the Board of Governors of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, 1998; and Member, International Board of Governors, the Peres Center for Peace, Israel.


For more information contact:
Office of Communications
10550 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, California 92037
press@scripps.edu