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The Skaggs Institute
for Chemical Biology

Scientific Report 2005

President’s Introduction

The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology stood once again in 2005 as a centerpiece of The Scripps Research Institute in the significant work accomplished by its members, across many disciplines. The discoveries made by these outstanding researchers are sure to have a positive impact on the betterment of human health for many years to come.

Innovative Investigations

The following list highlights only a few of the breakthroughs made by investigators at the Skaggs Institute in 2005. The scientists

  • solved the structure of a rare human antibody that broadly neutralizes HIV, which causes AIDS;
  • revised our understanding of the process of RNA folding;
  • described how a bacterial control agent prevents crown gall, a plant disease that affects more than 600 species;
  • discovered that a compound extracted from soy beans is a natural and potent inhibitor of a pathologic process involved in a number of amyloid diseases;
  • developed a way to screen hundreds and potentially thousands of “noncoding” RNA molecules to discover the functions of the molecules within cells; and
  • elucidated mechanisms and components of the immune system, including CD1 and Toll-like receptor 3.

Such studies contribute to the body of scientific knowledge that will make a difference in our lives.

New Scripps Research Trustee

In 2005, several new members joined the Scripps Research board of trustees, including Mark S. Skaggs, an attorney and business executive formerly with American Stores, of Boise, Idaho. Mark will enrich the board with his expertise in business development and management, investment, and philanthropy. Mark also serves on the board of trustees of the Skaggs Institute.

Awards and Honors

Numerous awards and honors were bestowed on members of the Skaggs Institute in 2005, as evident from the following list.

  • Professor Peter G. Schultz, who holds the Scripps Family Chair and is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Skaggs Institute, was awarded the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of organic chemistry, the significance of which has become apparent within the previous 5 years.
  • Professor Gerald Joyce was honored with the H.C. Urey Medal, the highest recognition by the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, given every 6 years to a scientist who is considered to have the best-sustained scientific research program in the origins-of-life field.
  • I received the DART/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award from the Biotechnology Study Center of the New York University School of Medicine, which recognizes the role of leaders who pursue pure science in the development of pharmaceutical agents and particularly honors those scientists whose work has led to major advances at the bedside.
  • Professor Julius Rebek, Jr., was named a foreign member of the Academia Europaea, an organization of scholars from across Europe that is a “broad assembly of excellence.”

The Skaggs Institute embodies the philosophy and spirit of interdisciplinary science that marks The Scripps Research Institute. I am proud to work with my colleagues within the framework of the Skaggs Institute, and I congratulate them on another year of outstanding progress in their efforts. All of us in the Scripps Research community extend our appreciation to the Skaggs family and to the ALSAM/Skaggs Institute for Research for the extraordinary generosity that enables us to pursue our goals.


Richard A. Lerner, M.D.
President, The Scripps Research Institute
Lita Annenberg Hazen
  Professor of Immunochemistry
Cecil H. and Ida M. Green
  Chair in Chemistry