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Chairman's Overview

Dale Boger, Ph.D.

Since its founding in 1989, the program in chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has emerged as a premier program in the country and across the world. We have a remarkably distinguished group of faculty devoted to the field of chemistry, an outstanding Ph.D. program in chemistry that every year attracts a stellar group of new graduate students, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and a focus that is central to both the field of chemistry and our mission as a non-profit research institute.

Chemistry at TSRI focuses on chemical synthesis, chemical biology, and medicinal chemistry, three critical areas central to biomedical research. The members of our faculty are distinguished teacher–scholars who have developed highly visible and internationally renowned research programs in areas as diverse as biological and chemical catalysis, natural products synthesis, organic synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, molecular design, supramolecular chemistry, medicinal chemistry, chemical evolution, materials science, and chemical biology. The chemistry graduate program attracts some of the best-qualified candidates from the United States and abroad. Our major research facilities, under the direction of Dee H. Huang (nuclear magnetic resonance, La Jolla), Gary Siuzdak (mass spectrometry, La Jolla), Douglas Kojetin (nuclear magnetic resonance, Florida), Mike Chalmers (mass spectrometry, Florida), Tina Izard (x-ray crystallography, Florida), Peter Hodder (high throughput screening, Florida), Brandon Young (genomics and cell-based screening, Florida), and Howard Petrie (flow cytometry, Florida), are second to none and continue to provide crucial support to our research programs. The Mabel and Arnold Beckman Center for the Chemical Sciences in La Jolla and the science buildings on the Jupiter, Florida, campus impress visitors from around the world with their architectural design and operational utility, contributing to the vibrant research and educational environment that our faculty and students work in.

The Department consistently ranks among the top programs in the country and across the world both in chemistry and in the field of organic chemistry, was established to rank number one in citations/article published by ISI in its most recent rankings and, has been ranked number one in technology innovation, having established over 50 successful biotechnology companies since its inception. Among our faculty are two Nobel Prize recipients, eleven Members of the National Academy of Sciences, eleven Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, four Members of the National Institute of Medicine, four Members of the National Academy of Inventors, one Member of the National Academy of Engineering, two MacArthur Fellows and four Wolf Prize recipients.


The Department of Chemistry at TSRI was established in 1989 under the vision of R. Lerner with Professor K.C. Nicolaou as the founding chairman (1989-2012). It was created to advance the field of chemical synthesis and to bridge the fields of biology and chemistry. The existing chemical biology investigations at TSRI were augmented and complemented with the chemical synthesis endeavors of the newly arrived faculty (C.-H. Wong, K.B. Sharpless and D. Boger), and the appointment of new faculty (R. Ghadiri and K. Janda), leading to a unique and powerful blend of faculty engaged in chemical synthesis and chemical biology studies.

In 1990, TSRI introduced its Ph.D. program in Chemistry. Today, this program attracts some of the most talented graduate students interested in the chemical and biochemical sciences. In 1996, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Chemical Sciences building was opened and today houses most of our chemistry faculty. Also in 1996,  through the generosity and vision of L.S. Skaggs, the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology was established under the directorship of Professor J. Rebek, Jr., and included most members from the Department of Chemistry.

In 2004, TSRI established its second campus in Jupiter, Florida, that included chemistry as part of its research and educational mission, with Professor W. Roush as the first newly hired Chemistry faculty member. Now based in the new (2009) state-of-the-art campus in Jupiter, the Florida branch of the Chemistry Department today includes eight faculty members working in the areas of chemical synthesis, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, and new materials and fuels.