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Richard Lerner to Receive UC Presidential Medal

La Jolla, CA. May 31, 2002 - Richard A. Lerner, M.D., president of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, will receive the University of California Presidential Medal on Friday, May 31. The medal is the highest award the university can bestow.

Lerner will receive the medal from UC President Richard C. Atkinson at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Sixth Annual Recognition Banquet.

Gov. Gray Davis in July 2000 appointed Lerner as chairman of the panel of distinguished scientists that selected the newly established UC-based California Institutes for Science and Innovation from among competing campus proposals.

The governor announced his intention to establish the institutes in December 2000, with the aim of producing scientific advances in fields critical to the future of the California economy. The institutes are also intended to play an important role in training a new generation of scientists and engineers and in stimulating the creation of new businesses and jobs for California.

The UC Presidential Medal was established to recognize "extraordinary contributions to the University of California or the community of learning." Previous recipients include former Gov. George Deukmejian, UC President Emeritus Clark Kerr and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon.

Lerner's 30-year scientific career encompasses a broad scope of seemingly disparate activities in biomedical research, ranging from insights into protein structure to identification of a sleep- inducing lipid.

His most recent work, and that for which he is perhaps best known, involves groundbreaking discoveries of converting antibodies into enzymes, permitting the catalysis of chemical reactions considered impossible to achieve by classical chemical procedures. The work has resulted in the possibility of producing antibodies overnight for obtaining an almost limitless variety of products beyond natural ones with an efficiency that may exceed that of natural enzymes.

As president of The Scripps Research Institute, Lerner heads the nation's largest private, non- profit biomedical research institute. Scripps is noted for its particular strength at the border between chemistry and biology. Lerner has also been a pioneer in the formation of large-scale industry/university collaborative agreements.

Lerner has been widely recognized by numerous scientific societies and organizations in the United States and abroad. In 1985, he was elected foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1991. Gov. Davis named Lerner to the Governor's Council on Bioscience in 1999 and in the same year he was appointed to the U.S. Department of Energy's Biological and Environmental Science Research Advisory Committee.

He graduated from Northwestern University and Stanford Medical School, interning at Palo Alto Stanford Hospital.


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