Front Row Lecture Series

Catch up on any lectures you missed by viewing the full recordings below.

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Transforming treatment options for alcohol use disorder
Alcohol misuse has risen in recent years, yet the underlying causes of alcohol use disorder (AUD), as well as the future standard of care, remain unclear. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research professor Barbara Mason, PhD, shared how her team is exploring the neurocircuitry involved in AUD and developing new medicines that could curb alcohol intake. Her research is identifying the most promising drug candidates for clinical trials and changing the way scientists view addiction, withdrawal and relapse.

Presented: August 23, 2023
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Visualizing the invisible machinery of life and death
Within each of our cells, countless microscopic molecular machines work to keep the body healthy. But when these machines break down, chronic diseases arise. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research professor Gabriel Lander, PhD, shared how his lab is using the most powerful microscopes on the planet to visualize the ways these biological motors operate and how they can be controlled to fight chronic diseases. His discoveries are helping us understand how cellular machines communicate within the body, providing avenues for therapeutic intervention in cancer, heart disease and neurodegeneration.

Presented: May 17, 2023
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Decoding sugar messages to create new diagnostics and therapeutics
Sugary molecules called glycans encapsulate our cells, serving as beacons to direct key biological activities, from tissue communication and growth to immune system activation. However, scientists have historically had limited ways to study glycans. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research associate professor Mia Huang, PhD, shared the innovative tools her lab is using to decode the language of glycans. Her expertise in chemical biology is guiding the creation of new ways to diagnose or treat complex conditions, such as cancer and liver disease.

Presented: April 19, 2023
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Paving the way to new therapies for neurodegenerative disease
Learning, memory and behavior depend on the continuous movement of valuable cellular components along axons, narrow nerve fibers through which neurons send signals to other neurons. But when this transport system fails, molecular traffic jams can cause neuronal damage associated with diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and prion disorders. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research associate professor Sandra Encalada, PhD, shared how her lab is unraveling the cellular pathways that lead to the formation of toxic protein clumps seen at traffic jams inside brain cells undergoing neurodegeneration. Her breakthroughs are transforming the way scientists view brain health and identifying new molecules that could treat, and even reverse, complex neurological conditions.

Presented: February 15, 2023
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Understanding biological factories to fuel drug discovery
Every organism depends on its ability to make cellular proteins from the core set of genetic blueprints—a process carried out in the cell by ancient biological factories. However, when this building process goes awry, various types of disease can take hold. In this opening lecture of the season, Scripps Research professor and regular Front Row host Jamie Williamson, PhD, unveiled his lab’s unprecedented exploration of these protein-building machines and the secrets they hold in maintaining cellular health. His cutting-edge research is evolving our view of molecular engineering and uncovering new drug targets for bacterial infections and cancer.

Presented: February 15, 2023
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Supercharging the immune system to destroy tumors
Our immune system surveys our bodies for tumors, which it can eliminate. However, over time, tumors learn to escape immune surveillance mechanisms and immune cells become exhausted, resulting in malignancies. In this Front Row lecture, Silke Paust, PhD, shared how her laboratory is using powerful immunological and imaging techniques to understand what immune cells need to infiltrate and eradicate solid tumors and their metastatic tissues. This research will address knowledge gaps in the tumor immunology field and enable the design of safe and effective immunotherapy products for difficult-to-treat, highly metastatic cancers.

Presented: November 16, 2022
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Hacking our body clocks to optimize health
Circadian clocks regulate our physiological processes—like sleeping and eating patterns—and greatly influence health and disease. Research by Katja Lamia, PhD, is showing how circadian clocks affect everything from metabolism to tumors. Her discoveries have the potential to lead to new therapies for a variety of diseases, including cancer.

Presented: October 19, 2022
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Advancing maternal health with digital technologies
Every pregnancy is unique, yet little is known about the individual characteristics that contribute to healthy pregnancies. These knowledge gaps have tragic consequences. Over the past few decades, the United States has seen a rise in maternal morbidity and mortality, with Black mothers bearing the brunt of the health burden. In her Front Row lecture, Tolúwalàṣé Àjàyí, MD, will discuss how digital technologies such as fitness trackers and mobile phone applications can help break down barriers related to clinical trial participation, empower participants with useful personalized health data and reduce disparities.

Presented: September 21, 2022
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Frontiers in alcohol addiction science and medicine
An estimated 14.5 million people in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder, which encompasses a range of unhealthy drinking behaviors. In her Front Row lecture, Marisa Roberto, PhD, shared her cutting-edge work deciphering how stress and neuroimmune mechanisms play a role in addiction and how recent discoveries are paving the way to new treatments. Using innovative, multidisciplinary research techniques, Roberto is revealing novel therapeutic targets and approaches to help people heal from alcohol use disorder.

Presented: August 10, 2022
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Accelerating the body's natural healing powers
Our bodies have the ability to regenerate tissues damaged by disease or injury, but that capability is limited. In his Front Row lecture, Scripps Research assistant professor Michael Bollong, PhD shared how his lab is using high-throughput technologies and large-scale chemistry techniques to search for medicines to accelerate the body'’s natural healing powers. This research is paving the way to new therapies for diseases ranging from heart disease to burns to inflammatory bowel diseases.

Presented: June 29, 2022
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Taking a new view of vital signs
Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate have long been the first things measured in the clinic to assess the overall health of an individual. Deviations in each of these metrics are used to alert physicians, who contextualize them to arrive at a diagnosis. Now, with the explosion of wearable devices, each of these vital signs can be measured longitudinally outside the clinic to arrive at a better understanding of the unique physiology of each individual. In his Front Row lecture, Jay Pandit, MD, director of digital medicine at the Scripps Research Translational Institute and assistant professor of molecular medicine, discussed some of the promises and challenges of longitudinal vital sign data collection. Among other insights, he shared some novel use cases and provide an update on the ever-elusive goal of continuous, cuffless blood pressure measurement.

Presented: April 20, 2022
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Beyond COVID-19: Preparing for future pandemic threats
One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic laid clear is that when—not if—the next pandemic occurs, humanity needs to be much better prepared. In his Front Row lecture, leading infectious disease researcher Sumit Chanda, PhD, shares his research on how pathogens infect cells and how the immune system responds. He talks about his team's efforts against the SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID illness, as well as influenza, Dengue virus, and HIV, and discuss how scientists are paving the way to better prevention and treatment for future pandemics.

Presented: March 16, 2022
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Decoding cellular communications to find new therapies for human diseases
To stay healthy, our bodies must maintain a state of internal stability and be able to respond to environmental changes. When these cellular homeostasis mechanisms are disrupted, whether due to genetics or outside forces, it can lead to various diseases. In her Front Row lecture, Xiang-Lei Yang, Scripps Research professor and Ernest W. Hahn Chair, shares her research on an ancient family of proteins that evolved new functions to allow cellular communications to keep up with the ever-increasing complexity of the organisms. She also discusses some of the opportunities provided by the tRNA synthetase family in developing new therapies for neurodegenerative disorders, cancers and other diseases.

Presented: February 16, 2022
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Transforming the face of research: Enabling anyone, anywhere, to contribute to biomedical research
Clinical trials are a critical part of advancing new medical innovations from the laboratory to patients. Traditional clinic-based trials, however, have several limitations. Trial participation is limited to those with access to the clinic and data gathered during those visits provides an incomplete, episodic picture of a person’s response to the intervention. Scripps Research is transforming that scenario. In this Front Row lecture, Katie Baca-Motes, MBA, and Julia Moore Vogel, MBA, PhD, will share how scientists at the Scripps Research Digital Trials Center seek to re-engineer trial participation by tapping into the power of digital technologies, such as wearable sensor devices, smartwatches and mobile apps. This site-less clinical trial model, pioneered at Scripps Research, is heralding a new era of diverse, participant-centric remote digital trials.

Presented: December 15, 2021
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Overcoming arthritis: Science offers hope for removing achy joints from the aging equation
In his Front Row lecture, Martin Lotz, MD, discusses cutting-edge research on osteoarthritis, the form of arthritis typically associated with age-related deterioration of the joints or following joint injury. Lotz shares how he and other scientists are deciphering the underlying biology of how the body’s ability to maintain and repair cartilage changes with age; he will also dive into a number of promising possibilities for counteracting the onset of age-related arthritis.

Presented: November 17, 2021
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Unlocking new insights into brain-gut communication, metabolism and longevity
The complex biological processes that regulate our metabolism are closely linked with many aspects of our health, from our weight and mental wellbeing to how long we live. Scripps Research neuroscientist and associate professor Supriya Srinivasan, PhD, leads a team that uses state-of-the-art molecular and genetic tools to investigate how our genes, gut-brain communication and other factors are implicated in metabolism and longevity—and how disease can develop when our internal balance goes awry. Her discoveries are paving the way to potential medicines for metabolic conditions and have led to interesting new insights into longevity.

Presented: October 13, 2021
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Getting to the heart of the matter: Precision therapies for age-related neurodegenerative diseases
Pioneering biochemist Jeffery Kelly, PhD, has recently been awarded the prestigious Breakthrough Prize for his transformative advances in the understanding of neurological disease. In his Front Row lecture, Professor Kelly shares his research into a broad set of disorders where incorrectly folded proteins clump and lead to degeneration of the heart and the nervous systems. He explains how his research led to the first approved therapy for diseases caused by such processes. He also describes how he and his team are developing future precision therapies for a wide range of diseases.

Presented: September 15, 2021
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Harnessing the Power of the Microbiota to Boost Immunity Against Infection and Cancer
The trillions of bacteria, or “microbiota,” that reside in our gut emit chemical signals that enhance our immunity and help fight disease. Scripps Research professor Howard Hang, PhD, has discovered important links between specific species of microbes and immunity, laying the groundwork for new approaches to more effectively prevent infections and treat cancer and other diseases. In this Front Row lecture, you’ll learn why specific bacteria in our body are such powerful mediators of health—and find out about breakthrough discoveries that are now on their way to becoming medicines.

Presented: August 18, 2021
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How the Science of Chirality is Helping the Search for Better Drugs and Origins of Life
Many of the building blocks of life exist in two forms that are mirror images of one another – a phenomenon known as chirality that is necessary for life to exist at all. How chirality arose eons ago is one of the great mysteries of science. What served as the first template – back before DNA, RNA and proteins, before the origin of life, in the prebiotic soup, when the nascent building blocks for life were first being formed? What process was responsible for directing amino acids to turn left, and sugars to turn right? In her Front Row lecture, Donna Blackmond, PhD, will share how deciphering the origins of chirality can help scientists design and develop safer, modern pharmaceuticals and in the search for life on other planets.

Presented: June 17, 2021

Mapping the Secret Complexity of Tumors to Defeat Aggressive Cancers
What makes cancer so difficult to defeat? Why do so many patients respond well to a particular treatment, only to relapse months or years later? The answer lies within the complex cellular makeup of cancerous tumors. Since cells within a tumor vary widely from one another, even if most are destroyed, at least some will survive and rebuild the tumor mass. Cancer biologist Michalina Janiszewska, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research, is bringing a heightened understanding to how a tumor’s diverse cell populations interact and what causes cells with particular mutations to expand. Likening tumors to jigsaw puzzles, Janiszewska is finding patterns that were never before seen. By mapping the intricate tumor ecosystem and finding new ways to detect the most dangerous of cells, she seeks to bring about better treatments for brain cancer and other highly aggressive or treatment-resistant tumors.

Presented: April 21, 2021

Cracking the Code of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system spins out of control, and leads to a host of devastating and incurable immune-mediated diseases. In his Front Row lecture, Mark Sundrud, PhD, shares how he and his colleagues are deciphering new networks of immune regulation that operate locally (in specific tissues), as opposed to globally (throughout the entire body), and how this can inform the development of safer, more targeted therapies for chronic inflammatory diseases that avoid the potentially life-threatening consequences of global immune suppression.

Presented: March 25, 2021
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The Science of Sight: An Eye-Opening Presentation on the Neuroscience of Vision
Our sense of sight is our window into the world. Advances in neuroscience are rapidly unlocking the secrets of vision and paving the way to new therapies for blindness and other vision disorders. In their Front Row lecture, Hollis Cline, PhD, and Kirill Martemyanov, PhD, co-chairs of the Department of Neuroscience at Scripps Research, present their cutting-edge vision research. Among other topics, they discuss recent findings on how molecules in the retina turn light into information, how visual sensations shape brain development and how deciphering the way our visual system works could lead to new avenues to detect, prevent and correct vision impairments.

Presented: February 17, 2021

Accelerating Innovative Medicines in Times of Change
Scripps Research President and CEO Peter Schultz, PhD, discusses how the nonprofit biomedical institute has expanded the bounds of academic research to transform drug development. Using state-of-the-art drug discovery methods and new approaches to translational medicine, the institute is quickly turning new scientific insights into effective drugs. Schultz also will share updates on Scripps Research’s COVID-19 programs and its growing drug pipeline, which encompasses new treatments for cancer, neurodegenerative disease, osteoarthritis and more.

Presented: January 19, 2021

Silencing the HIV Reservoir: The ‘Block and Lock’ Approach
Some viruses avoid immune system antiviral attacks by going into deep sleep until the right moment to reemerge. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the sneakiest. While anti-retroviral therapy works well to stop the virus, if people with HIV forget to take their medicine, the latent virus awakens and becomes a threat again. Research by Associate Professor Susana Valente suggests it’s possible to block the virus’ ability to reemerge (or wake up), locking it in a long-term dormant state. She is advancing a possible medicine derived from a marine sponge to do just that.

Presented: December 16, 2020
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Can Medicines That Alter the Microbiome Prevent Cardiovascular Disease?
Promoting a healthy gut microbiome may be a powerful strategy for lowering cholesterol and other heart attack risk factors. In this Front Row lecture, Professor Reza Ghadiri will present research on molecules that can alter the bacterial population of intestines to a healthier state and how they have shown—through experiments in mice—that this reduces cholesterol levels and strongly inhibits the thickened-artery condition known as atherosclerosis.

Presented: November 13, 2020

Harnessing Chemical Biology for Cancer Drug Discovery
Gene regulation is the study of how cells turn certain genes on or off and plays a central role in the development and treatment of cancer. In this Front Row lecture, Assistant Professor Michael Erb will share his research applying chemical tools to study how chromatin, a molecular machine that plays a key role in transcription, becomes disrupted in cancer. He will discuss his research developing small molecule drugs targeting these genetic malfunctions.

Presented: October 15, 2020

Citizen Science: Empowering the Public to Help Solve Biomedical Challenges
Modern scientific research is primarily performed by individuals with specialized training and as their full-time careers. But in recent years, there has also been rapid growth in “Citizen Science”—engaging the general public as partners in research. In this Front Row lecture, Andrew Su, PhD, professor in Scripps Research’s Department of Integrative Structural & Computational Biology, will discuss recent discoveries that were only possible by leveraging the Citizen Scientist community. He will also highlight the many ways in which you, too, can contribute to cutting-edge scientific research, both at Scripps Research and elsewhere.

Presented: September 10, 2020
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Preventing Opioid Addiction and Overdose Fatalities Through Novel Therapies
Addiction to opioids, including illicit substances and prescription pain medications, has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research Professors Laura Bohn and Kim Janda presented their latest research on innovative strategies for developing therapies to address opioid addiction and preventing related fatalities. They also discussed advances in understanding the body’s pain pathways that could lead to improvements in pain therapy.

Presented: August 13, 2020

Designing Universal Vaccines for Influenza and Coronaviruses
As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic edges up on the onset of flu season, the need for effective vaccines for these viruses and others is abundantly clear. In this Front Row Lecture, Ian Wilson, DPhil, chair of Scripps Research's Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, discusses advances in designing and developing universal vaccines that could either treat or protect people against all strains of a virus. He focuses on progress developing universal vaccines against influenza and how research on flu has paved the way for current efforts to find a pan-coronavirus vaccine.

Presented: July 16, 2020

Intelligent Intervention Into Multiple Sclerosis With Next-Generation Therapies
As scientists learn more about the underlying causes of multiple sclerosis (MS), they are developing intelligent interventions that slow or halt the progression of the disease. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research Professor Hugh Rosen will share how he and his collaborators at Scripps Research created ozanimod (Zeposia), the first disease-altering MS therapy, recently approved in the United States and Europe. Luke Lairson, an associate professor at Scripps Research, will discuss how his research targeting another aspect of the disease is laying the groundwork for the next generation of MS therapies.

Presented: July 1, 2020

Mapping Weak Spots on the New Coronavirus: Nanoscale Discoveries Drive Vaccine Development
Understanding the precise structure of a newly emerged virus—such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the root of COVID-19—is a critical first step in creating a vaccine. In this Front Row lecture, Scripps Research structural biologist Andrew Ward, PhD, shares how a revolutionary technique known as cryo-electron microscopy is generating powerful 3-D images of the coronavirus and its interactions with the human immune system, unearthing discoveries that are already shaping the future of medicine.

Presented: June 17, 2020


How We Can Tackle the COVID-19 Crisis Beyond Testing
If you wear a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you can play a role in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and other viral diseases like the flu. In this Front Row lecture, Eric Topol, MD, and Jennifer Radin, PhD, discuss how they’re calling on the public to share data from wearable devices for a study that’s helping scientists flag the early onset of contagious respiratory illnesses. By harnessing this key data—including heart rates, sleep and activity levels—from hundreds of thousands of individuals, they seek to improve real-time disease surveillance.

Presented: June 3, 2020


Survivors of Coronavirus Infections May Hold the Secret to Stopping COVID-19
Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, a team of Scripps Research scientists began studying blood samples from patients recovering from infection by the novel coronavirus. In this virtual Front Row lecture, Dennis Burton, PhD, shared how he and his collaborators are analyzing COVID-19 survivors' blood for proteins, known as antibodies, that the immune system creates after encountering the virus. Antibodies to the new coronavirus could be used as much-needed therapeutics to COVID-19 or to help design a vaccine to protect against the disease.

Presented: May 20, 2020


Leveraging the World’s Leading Drug Repurposing Collection Against COVID-19
In the weeks and months after the novel coronavirus emerged, Calibr at Scripps Research transformed into an international hub for COVID-19 drug discovery. In this Front Row lecture, Arnab Chatterjee, PhD, shares how Calibr scientists and their many collaborators are leveraging a unique resource—the ReFRAME drug repurposing collection—to help identify safe antiviral drugs that can be rapidly advanced to patients. Learn why Calibr was especially well poised to meet the COVID-19 challenge, and how current experiences will help prepare for the next pandemic.

Presented: May 6, 2020


Addressing the Coronavirus Challenge
How do scientists create vaccines and drugs against a virus that simply didn’t exist months ago? That’s the challenge that virologist Michael Farzan, PhD, is facing head on—along with his team on the Jupiter, Florida, campus of Scripps Research. In this Front Row lecture, Farzan, a professor and co-chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, shares his early findings on efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine that triggers antibodies against the novel coronavirus.

Presented: April 22, 2020
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Outsmarting Emerging Pathogens in an Interconnected World
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristian Andersen, PhD, a genomic epidemiologist, was one of the first to begin tracing the origins and spread of the novel coronavirus based on public genome sequencing data. In this virtual Front Row lecture, Andersen will share unique insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and spread around the world, as well as what science tells us has worked and not worked to mitigate the public health crisis. He’ll discuss how the lessons learned from the current pandemic and other infectious disease epidemics can help us prepare for future outbreaks.

Presented: April 15, 2020

California Campus

Advancing Precision Medicines to Stop Cancer, ALS, Muscular Dystrophy – and Coronavirus
Innovative chemist Matthew Disney, PhD, delivers the first pandemic edition of the popular Scripps Research Front Row lectures, via webinar. Watch as he describes his unique drug-discovery tools, now revealing new ways of attacking the RNA virus that causes COVID-19. Rather than targeting proteins, as most drugs do, Disney spent a decade developing an effective way to target RNAs involved in genetic diseases like ALS and cancer. That’s proving important as the novel coronavirus spreads globally.

Presented: March 18, 2020


New Understanding of Brain Diseases: Toward Disease-Modifying Therapies
Alzheimer’s, Lewy-body dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, Parkinson’s and ALS appear to be very different diseases, yet they share something striking in common: an accumulation of “aggregates” or toxic, misfolded proteins. Professor Lasmézas is an authority on neurological diseases that are caused by protein misfolding and her lab is working on potential treatments for these diseases as well as prion diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD).

Presented: February 19, 2020


A New Model for Biomedical Research
Our understanding of what drives disease at the molecular level is expanding exponentially in this age of genomics and artificial intelligence. Yet we still face major challenges finding effective treatments for diseases ranging from cancer to dementia. How can biomedical research institutes bridge this gap? In the first lecture of Florida’s new Front Row Lecture Series, Peter Schultz, PhD, a pioneering chemist and president and CEO of Scripps Research, shares his vision for ensuring that discoveries made in biomedical research institutes reach patients and improve lives.

Presented: January 22, 2020


To view all Front Row Lectures from the California and Florida campuses click here.