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The Skaggs Institute For Chemical Biology
Scientific Report 1997-1998

President's Introduction

Richard A. Lerner, M.D.

Since its founding just 2 years ago through a gift of extraordinary generosity from the Skaggs family, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology has made significant contributions to the body of scientific knowledge in areas including organic synthesis, molecular drug design, biocatalysis, molecular recognition, combinatorial chemistry, the structure of biological macromolecules, molecular modeling, and molecular evolution. The influence of scientists who were recruited to the Institute in the past year, including Drs. Paul Schimmel, Jeffery Kelly, James Williamson, and Martha Fedor, and the leadership of its director, Dr. Julius Rebek, are already being felt as their work continues unabated and they become integrated into the fabric of the research enterprise here. Collaborations in such disciplines as RNA chemistry and biology, origins of life, and drug design have begun to coalesce, and we expect these to flourish and yield exciting results in the near future.

The effort to attract the finest scientists in the world to the ranks of the Skaggs Institute continues this year with the recruitment of Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator of the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Schultz's research interests span the disciplines of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science. Specifically, his research focuses on molecular recognition and catalysis in biological systems, applications of these studies to the design and synthesis of molecules with novel biological properties, and the development of synthetic methods for the generation of materials with novel electronic, magnetic, and optical properties. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Schultz is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Sloan Fellowship, the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the American Chemical Society Eli Lilly Award, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Uppsala University.

In a major new initiative to integrate basic and clinical research, the Skaggs Institute for Research has agreed to provide initial funding of $1 million to implement a new program this year, the Skaggs Scholars in Clinical Science. Chaired by Ernest Beutler, M.D., the program already has selected 15 research-oriented clinicians whose collaborative research projects with TSRI scientists will be funded. Candidates were selected on the basis of past clinical research training and accomplishment and perceived motivation to expand their research productivity. The broader goal of the program is to expand our knowledge of human diseases and develop therapeutic interventions. We are grateful to the Skaggs family not only for their financial contribution but also for their continued involvement in our work and their desire to improve the human condition.

As is evident from the work described in these pages, scientists at the Skaggs Institute continue to work individually and in the aggregate at the leading edge of biomedical research, yielding insights and discoveries that will provide incalculable benefits now and for generations to come. The interplay between the vision of philanthropists and scientists has made these accomplishments possible, and we expect spectacular results in the years ahead.



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