Front Row Lecture Series

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
Presentation slides

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
Presentation slides


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.