Exciting Times at Scripps Florida

Professor Conkright

Things are never quiet at Scripps Research, but recent months have been particularly busy. Catch up on the latest news from our Florida campus:

Scripps Florida Wins Innovation and Entrepreneurialism Award
Cutting-edge technology, top scientific talent, and an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration form the core of Scripps Research's success. IT Florida, which serves the state as an umbrella organization comprised of both public and private technology leaders and as an advocate for sound policy on technology issues and initiatives, recognized the strength of this combination when it awarded Scripps Florida the Innovation and Entrepreneurialism Award for 2008.

"The IT Florida award validates our bicoastal institute's unique approach of combining outstanding biomedical research with advanced technologies to improve human health," said Scripps Research Institute President Richard A. Lerner.

IT Florida's award focused on Scripps Research's screening technology, which is innovative in its use of state-of-the-art robotics to speed the process of discovering new drugs to treat a variety of illnesses, and accessible to scientists from Florida universities and other academic research institutions.

Renowned Researcher joins Scripps Florida to Head New Department of Metabolism and Aging
Roy G. Smith, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on research designed to intervene in the process of age-dependent physical and cognitive decline. Joining Scripps Florida to head the new Department of Metabolism and Aging, Smith brings not only his stature as a pioneer researcher in the field of aging, but also his passion for educating both the public and the medical profession about the critical issues facing our aging society.

"In many respects, Scripps Florida represents the future of biomedical research," Smith said. "I'm very excited by this opportunity to build a new department as part of this unique science campus with a focus on translational research – taking discoveries in basic science and carrying them through to the clinic. Not only will we have the capability to develop biological tools to help understand mechanisms of diseases that will lead to the development of new drugs, we also will have the opportunity to work in close collaboration with Scripps Research scientists at the La Jolla campus. It's an unbeatable combination."

Smith is best known for his cutting-edge work on the development of synthetic small molecules that rejuvenate the growth hormone axis in elderly subjects. He was the first to identify the receptor for these molecules and to characterize this previously unknown physiological pathway. Mounting scientific evidence now suggests that these growth hormone secretagogues may represent the biological equivalent of what some may have called a "molecular foundation of youth," affecting parameters such as muscle mass, skin texture, immune function, and memory. Smith is particularly interested in the direct effects of these small molecules on neurons in the brain that control memory and learning.

Scripps Research's Rising Stars Receive Support
Michael Conkright, a Scripps Florida scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, received an important testament to his work recently when he was awarded a grant from the Margaret Q. Landenberger Research Foundation. The Landenberger Foundation is a small foundation, but one with a strong scientific advisory board that ensures its grants go to researchers at the forefront of medical advancement.

The grant will allow Conkright to expand his research into oncogenes and other molecular networks that can lead to cancer.

"I'm honored that our laboratory has been selected for this important award," Conkright said. "The Landenberger Foundation provides tremendous help to young investigators like myself by providing funds for new research programs. In my case, the grant will allow us to expand our study of various influences on oncogenes and their role in cancer, and bring a brand new repertoire of study areas into the laboratory."

Conkright's award follows on the heels of Landenberger Foundation awards in 2007 to two other young Scripps Florida professors, Nagi Ayad in the Department of Cancer Biology, and Paul Kenney in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics.

The success of Scripps Research is made possible by the support of committed individuals. As Scripps Research sits poised to continue pioneering tomorrow's most important medical advancements, its ability to carry these projects across the finish line will rely on the generosity of supporters like you.