Eminent Scientist Charles Weissmann to Join Institute's Florida Operations
The Scripps Research Institute announced this week that internationally renowned scientist Charles Weissmann will join Scripps Florida, the institute's new biomedical research operation in Palm Beach County.
Weissmann, a native of Switzerland, is currently senior research scientist in the Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University College, London, and is a pioneer in modern biomedical research and molecular biology. He will head the Scripps Florida Department of Infectology.
"Dr. Weissmann is an old friend, a distinguished colleague, and a symbol of excellence as our first appointment to Scripps Florida," said Scripps Research Institute President Richard A. Lerner, M.D. "He will provide outstanding leadership at our new venture and will attract other eminent researchers to our Palm Beach County campus."
Scripps Florida is being established as a result of the vision and leadership of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who initially proposed that the nonprofit biomedical research institution open facilities in the state. With start-up funding from the state and land and facilities from Palm Beach County, Scripps Florida will serve as magnate and stimulus for biomedical and pharmaceutical companies to locate in the area, creating jobs and economic diversity.
"Charles Weissmann is a preeminent scientist and I welcome him to Florida," said Governor Bush. "We're proud he will call our state home. His hiring is symbolic of the caliber of individuals we'll recruit to Scripps Florida."
Among Professor Weissmann's research interests that he will continue to investigate at Scripps Florida are the pathogens that cause malaria and tuberculosis, and such prion diseases (spongiform encephalopathies) as mad cow disease.
"When you're conducting science at this levelsome of the best science in the worldthen you are uniquely situated to step in when there is a national need," said Governor Bush. "As scientists such as Dr. Weissmann come here to affiliate with Scripps, people from around the globe will increasingly look to Florida for help in solving the scientific questions of the day."
Charles Weissmann began his career with doctoral degrees in both medicine and organic chemistry from Zurich University, and then turned to the new field of molecular biology where he was recognized as one of the most creative investigators over several decades. He contributed to the first cloning of alpha-interferon genes, the elucidation of the life cycle of bacteriophages, the development of site-directed mutagenesis, and the regulation of red blood cell components.
In recent years, Professor Weissmann has made breakthroughs in the investigation of diseases induced by prions (small proteinaceous infectious particles that resist inactivation by procedures that modify nucleic acids) that affect animals, such as mad cow disease, and humans, for example Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.
Professor Weissmann has been internationally recognized for his work, including memberships in the Royal Society (United Kingdom) and National Academy of Science (USA). He has been awarded six honorary doctoral degrees and many leading scientific prizes. He was a cofounder of Biogen, the first European biotechnology company and he continues to serve on a several corporate boards.
He is currently a member of Scripps Board of Scientific Governors, which advises the institute's president on matters of scientific inquiry and policy.