Money Well Spent: Foundations Support Cutting-Edge Science
By Jason Socrates
As the press conference winds down and colleagues, students,
and members of the press give another rolling round of applause,
K. Barry Sharpless, the world's newest Nobel laureate in chemistry
comes once more to the podium to underline his thanks to the
foundations, donors, and agencies that have supported his
Even when he came to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)
a decade before, Sharpless was renowned as an international
leader in the field of chemical synthesis. When he came to
TSRI in 1991 it was to accept the W.M. Keck Foundation Chair
In 1996, Sharpless was one of over a dozen researchers in
the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biology who would
form the initial group of The Skaggs Institute of Chemical
Biology. This institute, formed with a generous contribution
of $100 million by businessman Sam Skaggs, awards the money
to the investigators, who use it for their research as well
as the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
TSRI distinguishes itself in the world of universities and
research institutes by often applying large donations directly
toward research. The strategy has been successful in supporting
the type of cutting-edge research that the investigators pursue,
and it has been critical in attracting top-notch investigatorsincluding
Sharpless and several others.
With the Skaggs Institute support, says, Skaggs Institute
Director Julius Rebek, "you can take on projects that you
could never really get immediate funding for from [government
agencies], because there you have to show some results in
just a couple of years. That makes a really big difference."
Others who have supported Sharpless's researchand
who received Sharpless's heartfelt thanksinclude philanthropist
Arnold Beckman and The National Institutes of Health.
TSRI's W.M. Keck Professor K. Barry
Sharpless (left), who won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry,
speaks with TSRI's Chair of Neurobiology Gerald Edelman, winner
of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Photo by
Jason Socrates Bardi.