Vol 11. Issue 22 / July 18, 2011



Baran Lab Collaborates with LEO Pharma
The Scripps Research laboratory of Professor Phil Baran has entered a collaboration with global pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma A/S to develop practical synthetic routes to complex natural products of importance to treating skin diseases.

"Scripps and LEO Pharma have forged a unique relationship wherein basic science at the forefront of synthetic organic chemistry and natural products research is the primary mission for both parties," said Baran. "The specific natural products that LEO Pharma is interested in require deeply innovative strategies and new insights into chemical reactivity and this is precisely the science we are currently pursuing. The results of our research potentially have a great impact at LEO Pharma's business within dermatology and this is particularly exhilarating for us all."

"We are delighted to enter into collaboration with Professor Baran's group at The Scripps Research Institute," added Tore Duvold, LEO Pharma's senior vice president of new product discovery. "Collaborating with one of the world's best universities gives LEO Pharma the chance to learn from the best and drive our innovation forward. Our goal is to share knowledge and achieve findings that can be directly applied to LEO Pharma's research and development within dermatology."

For more information about LEO Pharma, see www.leo-pharma.com.

Hua Lu Awarded Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship
Hua Lu, research associate in the Schultz lab, has been named a 2011 Damon Runyon Fellow, a prestigious award presented by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation to recognize early-career researchers.

According to the foundation, the fellowship "encourages the nation's most promising young scientists to pursue cancer research by providing them with independent funding to work on innovative projects." The 18 newly announced fellows each receive a three-year grant to pursue their research.

A research associate in the laboratory of Professor Peter G. Schutz, Lu has focused his scientific investigation on developing antibody-drug conjugates that can specifically recognize and kill acute myeloid leukemia cancer cells. Lu aims to generate highly specific ADCs to attack tumor cells without harming normal cells. His work may lead to identifying new clinical candidate drugs.

Since its founding in 1946, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has invested more than $235 million in funding more than 3,250 young scientists. Among past foundation fellows are eleven Nobel Prize winners, heads of cancer centers, and leaders of renowned research programs, according to the foundation. Fewer than 10 percent of fellowship applicants are funded in the competitive award program.

Colin Skepper Wins National Research Service Award
Colin Skepper, research associate in the Boger lab, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award (NRSA) three-year postdoctoral fellowship.

According to the NIH, the NRSA fellowships are intended to provide research training opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing research careers in biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research. NIH figures indicate only about 10 percent of fellowship applicants are awarded an NRSA award each year.

Skepper's project, "Asymmetric Total Synthesis of Vindoline and Novel Analogues," aims to develop an efficient synthesis of vindoline and, subsequently, novel analogues of the cancer drugs vinblastine and vincristine. Analogues prepared through these efforts will be screened for anticancer activity in the search for a candidate with enhanced activity against resistant cell lines.

Kristopher Nazor Wins Pre-doctoral Fellowship from Autism Speaks
Kellogg School of Science and Technology graduate student Kristopher Nazor of the Loring lab has won a Dennis Weatherstone Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy group. Nazor is one of eight fellows selected from a field of 50 highly qualified candidates. Projects were chosen for funding based on the strengths of the training plan, research strategy, mentor's qualifications, and the relevance of the topic to Autism Speaks' research priority areas.

With the funds, Nazor will be using a systematic, data-intensive approach to identify the molecular aberrations that occur not only in Fragile X neurons themselves, but also in the precursor cells that give rise to these neurons. "This will allow us to compare autism-affected and normal neuro-developmental processes," said Nazor, "and, hopefully, to better understand what leads to the onset of this devastating disease."

Autism Speaks established the Weatherstone Fellowships in 2008, thanks to a multi-year grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, to encourage the most promising young scientists to establish autism research as their chosen career path and support the growth of a promising cadre of young autism scientists. The fellowships are named in honor of former J.P. Morgan CEO Sir Dennis Weatherstone.

James Lajiness Awarded Bristol-Myers Squibb Graduate Fellowship
James Lajiness, a Kellogg School graduate student in the Boger lab, has been awarded a Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) Graduate Fellowship in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Graduate fellows are named based on demonstrated academic and research achievements, and potential for significant future accomplishments, according to BMS.

In his research, Lajiness focuses on the synthesis and evaluation of antitumor agents designed for targeted tumor delivery, as well as the total synthesis of several alkaloid natural products. He and the other 2011-2012 BMS Fellows will visit the company's research site in Lawrenceville, NJ in early 2012 during the Bristol-Myers Squibb Chemistry Awards Symposium.






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