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Scripps Florida Scientists Receive $1.4 Million to Study Drug Candidates for Neurological Disorders and Other Diseases

JUPITER, FL, July 28, 2015 – Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded $1.4 million from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the development of drug candidates for a wide range of conditions, including circadian rhythm disorders.

Patrick R. Griffin, chair of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at Scripps Florida, and Theodore Kamenecka, a TSRI associate professor, will be the principal investigators of the new three-year grant.

The project involves what are known as RORs (retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptors), a class of molecules that plays a role in the expression of genes involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, inflammation and circadian rhythm. Disruptions in circadian rhythm—the pattern of activity and rest over a 24-hour daily cycle—have been associated with depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia.

“While the functions of other ROR receptors have been widely studied, little is known about RORbeta,” Griffin said. “The new grant will allow us to expand and improve our experimental compounds to study RORbeta function in depth. This line of research should increase our understanding of this receptor as well as circadian rhythm and related disorders.”

While not specifically aimed at producing drug candidates, Griffin said, the new research will include studies of the new optimized compounds in experimental models of a range of diseases.   

The number of the grant is 1R01MH108173.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academy of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see

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Scripps Florida scientists Patrick Griffin (above) and Theodore Kamenecka will direct the new grant. (High-res image)