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Third Scripps Florida Scientist in Two Years to Receive Funding

JUPITER, FL, December 10, 2008—Michael Conkright, a Scripps Florida scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, has received a $150,000 grant from the Margaret Q. Landenberger Research Foundation.

The two-year grant will help expand Conkright's research into oncogenes and the molecular networks they create that can lead to cancer.

Conkright's award follows on the heels of Landenberger Foundation awards in 2007 to Nagi Ayad, also an assistant professor in Scripps Florida's Department of Cancer Biology, and Paul Kenney, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps Florida, for $125,000 and $65,000, respectively.

"I'm honored that our laboratory has been selected for this important award," Conkright said. "The Landenberger Foundation provides tremendous help to young investigators like myself by providing funds for new research programs. In my case, the grant will allow us to expand our study of various influences on oncogenes and their role in cancer, and bring a brand new repertoire of study areas into the laboratory."

The Margaret Q. Landenberger Research Foundation, which was formed in 1992, is located in Philadelphia, PA, and Palm Beach, FL. Brown Brothers Harriman, the oldest partnership bank in America, serves as the foundation's corporate trustee.

"The Landenberger Foundation provides initial funding for novel medical research projects in the hope that this will help the scientists further expand their research through additional grants from other sources," said Gabriela Mostafavi, a vice president with Brown Brothers Harriman who oversees the operations of the foundation. "Although we're a small foundation, we have an excellent scientific advisory board that helps direct our grant making decisions. We want to be at the cutting edge of medical research and Scripps Florida scientists like Mike Conkright and others who have received funding from us certainly meet this criterion."

The oncogenes that Conkright and his colleagues are studying are often the result of chromosome translocation, the rearrangement of parts between two different chromosomes. Conkright has been examining a range of transcription factors (proteins that control when genes are switched on or off) that interact with these newly created oncogenes, often with surprising results.

"We've discovered an entirely new complement of transcription factors that interacts with one of these oncogenes that is not present prior to the chromosomal translocation," he said. "Now we want to look at other oncogenes and see if this holds true as well. By studying the complement of gene regulators together with data on protein expression, we may be able to finally understand mechanistically how oncogenes aberrantly activate genes."

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. Scripps Florida is currently in the process of moving from temporary facilities to its permanent campus in Jupiter, Florida. Dedication ceremonies for the new campus will be held in February 2009.