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Scripps Research Appoints Stem Cell Scientist to Molecular Therapeutics Faculty

JUPITER, FL, September 10, 2009The Scripps Research Institute has appointed Donald G. Phinney, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert in the study of adult bone marrow-derived stem cells, as a professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics.

Professor Phinney's laboratory will be located on the campus of Scripps Florida in Jupiter.

"We're pleased that Don chose to join us at Scripps Florida," said Patrick Griffin, chair of the Molecular Therapeutics Department at Scripps Florida. "His pioneering work in stem cells will add significantly to our current research capabilities in a number of areas, particularly in hormone receptors. This is a terrific match and we want to welcome him to our department and our campus."

Before joining Scripps Florida, Phinney, 47, was a professor of microbiology and immunology and an associate director of research at the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University in New Orleans. During his last two years at the university, he was also director of the Good Manufacturing Procedure Facility at Tulane University Health Sciences Center.

Phinney, who has settled in Jupiter with his family, officially joined the Scripps Florida faculty on July 1, 2009.

"It's an honor to be part of Scripps Florida," Phinney said. "After many years of dividing my time between administrative work and science, I decided I wanted to focus on my own research full-time again. Scripps Florida is the kind of place that gives you the freedom to do your own work—plus it has tremendous resources and a supportive administration."

Phinney holds a B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He did his postdoctoral work at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.   

From 2008 to 2009, Phinney was also co-editor of the journal Stem Cells and was a charter member of the International Society of Stem Cell Research.

Phinney's research interests include the basic biology and therapeutic applications of stem cells, specifically mesenchymal stem cells, which are derived from bone marrow and give rise to such structures as connective tissues, blood, lymphatics, bone, and cartilage. Since mesenchymal stem cells can develop into a number of differentiated cell types, they may have a number of potentially important therapeutic applications.

"Part of our work looks at the way these cells help promote wound healing," he said. "We're very interested in developing agonists or antagonists for these factors that could be turned into potential therapeutics. So, the drug discovery aspect of Scripps Florida fits in well with what we do."

Phinney is also looking forward to being part of the collaborative spirit of Scripps Florida.

"Researchers here—like Tom Burris and Pat Griffin in hormone receptors—are doing some important cell biology work," he said. "Because these types of receptors regulate the differentiation of the cells we work with, there's a great opportunity for collaboration."

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 located in Jupiter, Florida.


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