In Brief

Eschenmoser Wins Oparin Medal
The Oparin Medal, the highest recognition of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, was given to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Professor Albert Eschenmoser at the 13th International Conference On The Origin Of Life, which was held in early July in Oaxaca, Mexico. This award is named after Russian scientist Alexander Ivanovitch Oparin—considered to be the father of modern investigations in the field because he suggested in 1924 that the earliest living organisms may have been generated from chemical precursors. The Oparin Medal is given every six years to the scientist deemed to have "had the best sustained scientific research program in the origin of life field," according to the conference web site.

Eschenmoser directs, together with Assistant Professor Ram Krishnamurthy, a research group at the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology that has contributed to the field through investigations into the chemical origins of nucleic acid structure, particularly through work on the threofuranosyl oligonucleotides (TNAs). TNA nucleotides are structurally similar to DNA and RNA nucleotides except that they contain structurally simpler 4-carbon based sugars, rather than the 5-carbon sugars ribose or deoxyribose.

The important property of TNA is that it has the capability of Watson-Crick base pairing comparable in strength to DNA and RNA. Furthermore, TNA is able to communicate by such base pairing with the natural nucleic acids and, therefore, may be a possible intermediary between RNA and earlier, simpler forms of informational molecules. Finding the simplest possible informational oligomer systems that could have formed under natural conditions is one of the goals of Eschenmoser's research group.

At the conference, Eschenmoser delivered a plenary lecture, entitled "The TNA-Family of Nucleic Acid Systems: Properties and Prospects."

Rebek Wins Chemical Pioneer Award
Julius Rebek, Jr., director of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has won an American Institute of Chemists (AIC) Chemical Pioneer Award, which recognizes "extraordinary achievement in the chemistry or chemical engineering fields." According to the AIC, "Rebek's lifelong work has led to major innovations in non-covalent molecular forces and pre-biotic mimetics—some of the concepts he has pioneered are now regarded as starting points in the field."

Rebek (B.S., University of Kansas; Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)) has been at TSRI since 1996. As an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1970 to 1976, he developed the "three-phase test" for reactive intermediates. At the University of Pittsburgh, where he rose to the rank of professor, he developed cleft-like structures for studies in molecular recognition. In 1989, he returned to MIT as Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry and devised synthetic, self-replicating molecules. The recipient of many awards and honors, Rebek continues to work in combinatorial chemistry and self-assembling systems at TSRI.

Wilson Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Ian Wilson, professor in TSRI's Department of Molecular Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, has been elected to membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"The Academy is pleased to welcome these outstanding and influential individuals to the nation's most illustrious learned society," says Academy President Patricia Meyer Spacks of the 2002 inductees. "Election to the American Academy is the result of a highly competitive process that recognizes those who have made preeminent contributions to all scholarly fields and professions."

An internationally recognized scientist known principally for his work in the field of x-ray crystallography, Wilson (B.Sc., University of Edinburgh; D.Phil., Oxford University) joined TSRI's faculty in 1982, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship and teaching assignments at Harvard University. Wilson's research has led to significant advances in the scientific understanding of molecular recognition in the immune system and in signal transduction by cytokine hormone receptors. Through his efforts, breakthroughs have been achieved in several areas of structural biology, immunology, chemistry, biology, and biochemistry, particularly in understanding the chemistry of antibody-antigen recognition, the mechanism of catalytic antibodies, cellular-immune recognition by T cell receptor-MHC interaction, the mechanism of growth hormone-cytokine receptor signaling, and the identification and mechanisms of novel small molecule mimetics of natural hormones.

TSRI Office of Graduate Studies Announces Six Merit Fellowships
The Office of Graduate Studies has announced the winners of merit-based fellowships for the 2002-2003 academic year.

The Gilula Fellowship, which is primarily supported by contributions from TSRI's faculty and administration, goes to:

• Nadim Jessani, Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry (MCSC) Program;
• Songpon Deechongkit, Chemistry Program.

The Jabinson Fellowship, supported by the Louis R. Jabinson Investigatorship Fund created by trusts left to TSRI upon the death of Marguerite Jabinson, goes to:

• Fraser Hof, Chemistry;
• Haitian Liu, MCSC.

The Daniel Koshland Fellowship, supported by a gift from Daniel Koshland, goes to:

• Scott Harrison, Chemistry

The Fletcher Jones Fellowship, supported by a 1993 grant from The Fletcher Jones Foundation to endow a graduate fellowship goes to:

• Olgun Guvench, MCSC.

Six TSRI Graduate Students Win Government Fellowships
The following TSRI graduate students have recently been awarded government fellowships:

• Diana Franck (MCSC), Stephanie Gupton (MCSC), and Luke Leman (Chemistry) will receive three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships;

• Graduate student Julie Tubbs (MCSC) will receive a NIH/NIGMS fellowship;

• Jose Luis Vela (MCSC) will receive a NIH/Minority Predoctoral Fellowship;

• John Trzupek (Chemistry) will receive National Defense and Science Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

Hughes Wins ACS Fellowship

Graduate Student Robert Hughes of the Nicolaou lab has been awarded an American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Medicinal Chemistry 2001-02 Predoctoral Fellowship Award. The award, one of only five given annually to a third- or fourth-year graduate student, is sponsored by Abbott. Hughes is researching the synthetic chemistry of the gyclopeptide antibiotics and the development of combinatorial techniques for the rapid recovery of lead compounds. He will receive the award next month at the ACS national meeting in Boston.

Enter News&Views Photo Contest
News&Views invites submissions to its second Summer Photo Contest. Submit photos of TSRI people, places, or events (picnic photos encouraged), with a brief description, to Kevin Fung, e-mail or mail drop TPC-20. The deadline is Monday, August 5. Winners will receive Padres tickets or tickets to San Diego's Natural History Museum. Winning photos will be published in News&Views.

TB Screenings, Hepatitis B Immunizations, and Serum Draws

On Monday, August 5, Wednesday, August 7, and Friday, August 9, personnel from Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group will be on-site to conduct TB screenings, Hepatitis B immunizations, and serum draws. The clinics will be conducted at the Administrative Offices (3301 North Torrey Pines Court) on the P1 level from 11 AM to 2 PM. No appointments are necessary.

TB screening requires a 48 to 72 hour follow-up. Individuals receiving the TB screen on Monday will need to return on Wednesday; individuals screened on Wednesday, will need to return on Friday. Initiation of the TB screening process will not be available on Friday, but Hepatitis B immunization and serum draws will be. To learn more about these programs, see the Environmental Health & Safety Occupational Medicine web page which includes a map and patient information sheets.

Look for Next News&Views August 12
The next issue of News&Views, which is published every other week throughout the summer, will be posted by Monday, August 12. The deadline for announcement and calendar submissions is Wednesday at noon for the following Monday's publication.