Vol 10. Issue 25 / August 30, 2010

New Graduate Students Arrive in Scripps Research Labs

By Mika Ono

Thirty-five students in the entering class of the Kellogg School of Science and Technology have arrived from points around the world to start new lives as graduate students in biology and chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, or Jupiter, Florida.

On Monday, August 9, the students found themselves in their first class, a seven-day intensive introductory course called "Ethics." Two days later, many attended Human Resources orientation, and heard a separate presentation on student resources, which include peer groups—from biology and chemistry journal clubs to the Network for Women in Science (NWiS).

The graduate students on the California campus also had lunch with Dean Jamie Williamson, who painted a picture of the hard work and scientific excitement that lay ahead.

"Earning a Ph.D. requires five years of sustained effort," Williamson told the new students. "Aim to become the world expert at something and have fun doing science. This is a scientific playground. You have the amazing luxury of romping around. Work hard. Think hard. Play hard."

During their graduate studies, the students will take classes, complete lab rotations, and write a dissertation that offers an original contribution to their field.

Members of the entering class, six of whom are based on the Florida campus, earned degrees from undergraduate institutions including Harvard University, Brown University, Trinity University, Peking University, Korea University, Hunter College, Davidson College, the University of Miami, Florida State University, and the University of California (at Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego). Their research interests range from synthetic chemistry to protein folding. All have already started work in a Scripps Research lab.

The Kellogg School, which currently enrolls about 200 students, continues to be ranked among the best graduate schools in the country, according to the April 15, 2010 edition of U.S. News & World Report. The publication now ranks the Kellogg School seventh overall in chemistry, with a ranking of third in the specialty of organic chemistry and fourth in the specialty of biochemistry. The school is also rated seventh overall in the biological sciences, with a ranking of ninth in the specialty of biochemistry/biophysics/structural biology.

First started in 1989, the school can now boast of more than 300 accomplished alumni, who work in both academics and industry.

Training Physician Scientists

Among the entering class in California are three students already holding M.D. degrees, who are beginning a two-year master's program in clinical investigation offered jointly by the Kellogg School and the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI). The program, funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, is tailored to young physicians envisioning a career as both clinicians and scientists. Also on the Scripps Research California campus is a joint program with the University of California, San Diego, offering training in both medicine and the research sciences and graduating students with both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

In Florida, plans are coming together for the expansion of the graduate program to include a joint M.D.-Ph.D. degree program with Florida Atlantic University (FAU). This development follows legislation signed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist in May that established a medical school at that institution.

FAU is currently anticipating a class of approximately 60 medical students per year with the expectation that 10 to 15 percent of those students will enroll in the joint program, said William R. Roush, associate dean for the Scripps Florida graduate program, as well as professor in the Department of Chemistry and executive director of medicinal chemistry at Scripps Florida. The first medical degree students will begin in fall 2011.

"There have been ongoing discussions about the joint FAU-Scripps Research degree program," said Roush. "Earlier this summer, we agreed on a basic outline. Basically, students will spend three years in the FAU M.D. program with the fourth year being the first of the Ph.D. program. The students will have to finish one year of the Scripps Ph.D. program to complete their M.D."

During the first three years of the M.D. program, Roush added, students will be encouraged to do independent study with members of the Scripps Florida faculty to help them better focus on the type of research they want to do.

The anticipated M.D.-Ph.D program builds on a joint education agreement between Scripps Research and FAU, in which the two institutions promote education and research involving biomedical science and related fields, including collaborations in postdoctoral training, undergraduate education, internships, and community outreach activities.





Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu



"Aim to become the world expert at something and have fun doing science," Dean Jamie Williamson advised the new graduate students.