Vol 10. Issue 6 / February 22, 2010


Landenberger Foundation Awards Three New Grants to Scripps Florida
Scripps Florida has received three new grants from the Philadelphia-based Margaret Q. Landenberger Research Foundation, totaling more than $400,000. The new funds will support scientific research by Professor Donny Strosberg and Assistant Professor Nagi Ayad, as well as a special conference for non-profit organizations hosted by Scripps Florida.

The foundation awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant to Donny Strosberg, a professor in The Scripps Research Institute's Department of Infectology, to support his lab's studies on the possibility of developing novel treatments for metabolic diseases. Specifically, the grant will support Strosberg's research on the impact of agonists—compounds that bind to cell receptors and create a cellular response—on three receptors that play a critical role in the process of lipolysis, which is the breakdown of triglycerides within the cell to be used for fuel.

"I'm very pleased to receive this grant award from the Landenberger Foundation," Strosberg said. "They have been very supportive of the work of Scripps Florida scientists, providing funding in areas that are not always able to attract significant funding from other sources. As such, they have been a terrific partner in helping get a number of important projects off the ground and I'm grateful for their support."

Ayad received a new round of funding from the foundation, with a grant of $100,000 to continue his work in the field of cell cycle progression, which has serious implications for cancer research and treatment. Not a lot is known about the moment when cell division—proliferation—stops and when cell differentiation—when the cell decides what it wants to be when it matures—begins. If the cell goes into proliferative overdrive and fails to exit the cell cycle, these rapidly dividing cells can turn into cancer.

In addition to the grants for scientific research, the Landenberger Foundation approved a grant of $25,000 to Scripps Florida to host a special conference to help other small foundations that specialize in supporting biomedical research to develop greater expertise in their review and analysis of scientific grant requests. The conference will take place on Tuesday, March 9, 2010 from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Scripps Florida campus.

Scripps Research Scientists Collaborate on New Lassa Fever Project
Scripps Research Institute scientists in the laboratory of Associate Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire are partnering with Tulane University and other institutions on a five-year, $15 million National Institutes of Health grant aimed at developing new ways to treat and prevent Lassa fever. About $500,000 will support work at Scripps Research.

Lassa fever is an often deadly viral disease that threatens hundreds of thousands of people annually in West Africa and is classified as a potential bioterrorism threat. In some areas of Sierra Leone, up to 16 percent of people admitted to hospitals have Lassa fever. Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the fatality rate can reach 50 percent. Ollmann Saphire further collaborates with Professor Michael Oldstone in the Scripps Research Department of Immunology and Microbial Science to understand how Lassa virus infects cells, with the hope of developing vaccines or treatments.

The team—which also includes scientists at The Broad Institute, Harvard University, the University of California at San Diego, Boston University, Autoimmune Technologies, Corgenix Medical Corporation, and various partners in West Africa—plans to evaluate antibodies from survivors of a Lassa virus infection to see if those antibodies might play a role in the development of a vaccine or treatment for the illness. The researchers also hope to establish a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of antibody responses and Lassa virus neutralization.

Alex Perryman Appointed to Chemical Biology & Drug Design Board
Alex L. Perryman, a research associate in the Olson lab, has been appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Chemical Biology & Drug Design (Wiley-Backwell), a peer-reviewed scientific journal dedicated to the advancement of innovative science, technology, and medicine with a focus on the multidisciplinary fields of chemical biology and drug design. In his research, Perryman focuses on understanding the structure-function relationships that govern key drug targets of the human immunodeficiency virus, in the hope of finding more effective ways to combat AIDS.

Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu