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Scripps Florida's Laura Bohn Wins 2009 Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award

JUPITER, FL, June 22, 2009—Laura Bohn, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at The Scripps Research Institute's Florida campus, has been awarded the 2009 Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award for her outstanding early achievements in the field of drug abuse.

The award, which is sponsored by The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, is given annually to a scientist under the age of 40.

 "It's a tremendous honor to be given this award," Bohn said, "particularly because it comes from The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, which has been a research leader in the understanding, treatment and prevention drug abuse. While I'm grateful for the recognition of my work, this award is also a recognition of the continued importance of the study of drug abuse and what that means for our society as a whole."

Bohn accepted the award on June 21, 2009, at the Plenary Session of the College's 71st annual meeting, which was held in Reno/Sparks, Nevada.

Bohn earned undergraduate degrees in both Chemistry and Biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1993 and then a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1999. Bohn received postdoctoral and research faculty training at the Duke University Medical Center. 

In 2003, she accepted a faculty position at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, where she was awarded tenure in 2007 before moving to The Scripps Research Institute's Florida campus in March 2009.

"Laura is doing important work in an increasingly critical field," said Patrick Griffin, chairman of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics. "This award confirms not only the quality of her research, but also the sense of excitement we all felt when she joined our faculty in March. Our congratulations on this well deserved award."

Bohn's research focuses on the regulation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), a large family of transmembrane receptors that transmit signals into a cell's interior. She is interested in how this regulation affects overall drug responsiveness in living systems, particularly during opioid receptor signaling, which plays a prominent role in pain perception. Determining how receptors such as the mu opiod receptor—the primary target of morphine and other prescription narcotics—are regulated could provide insights into controlling pain, opiate tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Bohn's deep interest in opioid receptors first took root during her postdoctoral studies at Duke University. Since then, she has pursued the molecular regulation of these receptors, hoping to improve drug responsiveness in vivo—getting better pain control, for example, from lower drug doses with a significant reduction in adverse side effects associated with opioids like morphine.

In addition to her research, Bohn has been active in training graduate students, teaching medical courses, serving on study sections for both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, as well as being an associate editor for the journal Life Sciences. She is the author of more than 40 publications and three book chapters and holds one international patent. 

In 1996, she received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Services Award Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health; she also received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Services Award Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2000. Bohn is also the recipient of the Women in Neuroscience/Society for Neuroscience Career Development Award and The College on Problems of Drug Dependence Travel Award.

Bohn, who is 38, lives in Jupiter, Florida, with her family.

About The College on Problems of Drug Dependence

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), formerly the Committee on Problems of Drug Dependence, has been in existence since 1929 and is the longest standing group in the United States addressing problems of drug dependence and abuse. The organization serves as an interface among governmental, industrial and academic communities maintaining liaisons with regulatory and research agencies as well as educational, treatment, and prevention facilities in the drug abuse field. It also functions as a collaborating center of the World Health Organization.

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 with a second campus located in Jupiter, Florida. Research at Scripps Florida focuses on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development.


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