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Scripps Florida Scientist Receives Major Infectious Disease Investigator Award

JUPITER, FL, May 21, 2008—Scripps Florida Assistant Professor Timothy Tellinghuisen has received the prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award for 2008.

Tellinghuisen, a researcher in the Infectology Department at Scripps Florida, is one of only 14 research scientists from the United States and Canada chosen this year by the fund. The $500,000 grant will be paid out over the next five years. 

"I'm honored to have been awarded this grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund," Tellinghuisen said. "We plan to use the award to expand our work with hepatitis C, particularly in the area of RNA replication and virus assembly to determine if these are productive targets for new therapeutic development." 

This is the second year in a row that a Scripps Research scientist has received this award from the fund. In 2007, Dorian McGavern, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, parent organization of Scripps Florida, was chosen as a Burroughs Wellcome Fund recipient to study the development of chemical and molecular approaches to probe viral pathogenesis in real time.

Tellinghuisen's laboratory is focused on the development of new and more effective drugs to combat hepatitis C, a major human pathogen that has infected more than 170 million people worldwide. The only approved treatment—a combination of interferon and ribavirin—has proven to have serious therapeutic limitations, as well as significant side effects.

Earlier this year, Tellinghuisen and his colleagues discovered a way to disrupt the production of infectious virus particles that cause hepatitis C at an early stage of viral assembly. That discovery may lead to the development of new and more effective therapies to treat the disease. The study appeared in the March 7, 2008 edition of the journal PLoS Pathology.

Tellinghuisen received Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and his Ph.D. degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, followed by postdoctoral training at the Rockefeller University in New York City. He joined the faculty at Scripps Florida in 2005.

The Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease awards are made to encourage innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to investigating pathogenesis by scientists who are still early in their careers. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund launched the program in 2002 and has made 72 awards for an investment of more than $30 million in the careers of investigators who are working on understanding the interaction between the human host and the infectious agent, whether bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.

"The constant threat of infectious disease is of global concern," said Burroughs Wellcome Fund President Enriqueta Bond. "This award provides risk capital for investigators to use new and creative approaches to study the interaction between the host and the microbe."

All awardees hold tenure-track faculty positions and must be nominated by degree-granting institutions in the United States or Canada.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Scripps Research is headquartered in La Jolla, California. It also includes Scripps Florida, whose researchers focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development.  Currently operating from temporary facilities in Jupiter, Scripps Florida will move to its permanent campus by 2009.

About the Burroughs Wellcome Fund

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent, private foundation dedicated to advancing the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. A majority of its grant making is made through competitive programs designed to support the career development of young scientists and to build capacity in undervalued research areas.


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