Vol 11. Issue 7 / February 28, 2011


FightAIDS@Home Project Receives Boost From Watson's "Jeopardy!" Win
The IBM computer Watson wasn't the only winner last week when it competed successfully against two human champions on the Jeopardy! game show. FightAIDS@Home, a Scripps Research project that partners with IBM International Foundation's World Community Grid, also came out ahead.

FightAIDS@Home aims to find new AIDS therapies in the face of evolving drug resistance in the virus with the help of World Community Grid, a virtual supercomputer that taps the unused computing power of personal computers around the world.

FightAIDS@Home and other scientific projects using World Community Grid are not only set to share $500,000 in prize money, they are already earning unprecedented support worldwide. The day after the tournament's conclusion, World Community Grid saw a 700 percent spike in the number of people who normally volunteer their computers' spare power for the effort.

The Olson lab will also use the winnings to "jumpstart" a new World Community Grid project on malaria.

For more information on the FightAIDS@Home project and how to participate, visit FightAIDS@Home, at http://fightaidsathome.scripps.edu/ or World Community Grid at http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/. For more information on the Olson lab, see http://mgl.scripps.edu/ .

Scripps Research Welcomes Stanford Club of San Diego to La Jolla Campus
The Scripps Research Institute recently welcomed The Stanford Club of San Diego, Stanford University's San Diego alumni community, to its La Jolla, California, campus for an inside peek at the institute's work. The event represents Scripps Research's first alumni outreach event as part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness of the institute and to build new friendships.

The more than 70 Stanford alumni in attendance, who had diverse backgrounds in biotechnology, medicine, technology and engineering, enjoyed a reception and a number of educational events in the institute's state-of-the-art chemistry facility, The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Chemical Sciences.

Participants toured the labs of Department of Chemistry Chair K. C. Nicolaou, Professor Phil Baran (a Stanford alumnus), and Department of Chemical Physiology Chair Benjamin Cravatt. Senior Director of Business and Technology Development Scott Forrest spoke on the institute's ability to develop and commercialize technology, and Assistant Professor Kristin Baldwin (a Stanford alumna) presented a talk on stem cell science and her lab's cutting edge advancements in this field.

Tamas Bartfai Honored by University of Oxford
Scripps Research Professor Tamas Bartfai, chair of the Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department, has been honored with a three-year Visiting Professorship in Drug Discovery at the University of Oxford. According to the university's announcement, the title was conferred in recognition of the contribution Bartfai will make to teaching and research at Oxford's Department of Pharmacology.

Crystal Moran Gutierrez Awarded NIH Fellowship
Crystal Moran Gutierrez, a graduate student in the Deniz lab, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship for her project, "Single-Molecule Study of Alpha-Synuclein Structure Modulation by Interactions."

The highly competitive NIH fellowship, awarded through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is designated specifically for PhD students.

According to Gutierrez, the project is focused on a protein heavily implicated in Parkinson's disease. Although the protein's role in normal and disease-related biology is largely unknown, a better understanding of the structural dynamics and transitions may lead to effective treatment and a deeper comprehension of the biology at work.

"This protein also represents an inherently challenging class of molecules (termed 'intrinsically disordered proteins') to study from a structural perspective," said Gutierrez. "What's exciting and unique about this fellowship proposal, developed with my advisor, is the novel and cutting-edge strategy outlined to investigate this and related structurally complex molecules using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy."