Scientists Discover Inflammation Is Controlled Differently in Brain and Other Tissues
Donny Strosberg Straddles the Worlds of Science and Business
Scripps Research Honors Long-Time Employees
ScrippsAssists Celebrates Volunteers



ScrippsAssists Celebrates Volunteers

By Mika Ono

There was a lot to celebrate at an October 19 luncheon of ScippsAssists, The Scripps Research Institute’s employee volunteer club on the California campus.

In 2011, ScrippsAssists volunteers—who include not only Scripps Research employees, but also their spouses, family members, and friends—donated more than 1,100 hours at upward of 50 events.

“Thank you for committing to Scripps,” said Vice President for Human Resources Cindy Scott-Lunau to the volunteers gathered in the Faculty Club, “and thank you for committing to the community.”

Founded in 1983, ScrippsAssists projects span a range of activities, including:

• MAINTAINING THE TORREY PINES TRAILS. For almost 18 years, ScrippsAssists volunteers have been helping to maintain the Torrey Pines State Reserve—which contains 2,000 acres of land including the chaparral plant community, rare Torrey pine trees, unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.

“The work is really appreciated, especially given State cutbacks,” said California State Park Ranger Kyle Knox at the ScrippsAssists luncheon.

On first Saturday of each month, volunteers work on the Los Penasquitos Lagoon—the habitat of many migrating birds and endangered species—along the Carmel Valley Road between N. Torrey Pines Road and I-5; volunteers have removed most non-native and invasive vegetation and installed native plants. On third Saturday of each month, volunteers work with park rangers on the main part of the State Reserve, repairing trails, trimming bushes along those trails, and widening walking paths. For more information, contact ScrippsAssists team leader Dee-Hua Huang, director of the Scripps Research NMR Facility, at

• WORKING WITH THE SAN DIEGO FOOD BANK. ScrippsAssists volunteers help the San Diego Food Bank both sorting food in the warehouse once a month and conducting an annual holiday food drive.

“Every little bit counts!” said Taylor Cohen, a senior administrative assistant in the Department of Chemistry who has been leading the project for four years. “Our food drive helps stock the warehouse for an entire year and feeds thousands throughout the community. Keep helping because it really does make a difference!”

The group meets to help the food bank the second Wednesday evening of every month. Red barrels for food donations will soon be located on the California campus to collect food in the holiday drive, which has been more successful every year. For more information, contact Cohen at

• SERVING LUNCH TO THE HOMELESS. Volunteers help serve lunch to the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul’s Joan Kroc Center on the third Sunday of every month.

“It gives you a better perspective on life,” said Shivarupam (“Shiva”) Bhowmik, a research associate in the Department of Molecular Biology, who assumed the position of project lead this month. “Moreover, it is a rewarding experience to know that you can make a difference in the lives of people by work as simple as serving lunch.”

Interested in joining the Sunday lunch at St. Vincent de Paul group? Contact Shiva Bhowmik at

• ADOPTING A FAMILY IN NEED THROUGH HOME START. The ScrippsAssists Adopt-a-Family program works with Home Start, an organization that provides services to children living in poverty, to match families in need with volunteers during the holiday season. Monetary donations are also gratefully accepted.

"I find it very fulfilling to adopt a family with my Scripps Research group," said Marcia McRae, administrative manager for the Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department and project lead who has participated in Home Start's program every year for more than a decade; McRae is also co-chair of ScrippsAssists with Mishelle McClanahan-Shinn. “It’s nice to see that so many people at TSRI care.”

In addition to organizing the Adopt-a-Family program, McRae also volunteers to support Home Start’s fundraising gala, and—in a separate project—collects corks for recycling. For more information on any of these activities, contact McRae at

• FUNDRAISING THROUGH THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY’S DAFFODIL DAYS. The annual Daffodil Days campaign collects orders for flowers in January and February, with flower delivery in March, to raise money for the American Cancer Society, one of the organizations that supports research at the institute.

“Scripps Assists has raised over $36,000 dollars during Daffodil Days in the eight years I have been leading the project,” said Leslie Madden, a senior administrative assistant in the Department of Molecular Biology. “The campaign has been going strong for more than 15 years and is highly anticipated by many.”

For more information on Daffodil Days, contact Madden at

Other activities involving ScrippsAssists include raising funds through a raffle at the Fall Craft Fair and partnering with Standing Tall Together, a nonprofit organization that benefits U.S. soldiers before and during deployment. Florida employees have launched a separate branch of ScrippsAssists, ScrippsAssists Florida, which has participated in the Florida Brain Cancer Walk, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Think Pink, and other activities.

“A lot of people do amazing things with ScrippsAssists,” said Holly Wheeler, who is secretary and treasurer of the California group. “We’re always looking for new people to help out, so please feel free to attend ScrippsAssists committee meetings and share your ideas.”

For more information on ScrippsAssists, see or contact Wheeler at


Send comments to:

ScrippsAssists committee members include: (front, left to right) Holly Wheeler, Mishelle McClanahan-Shinn, and Marcia McRae; (back, left to right) Jennifer Bray, Dee-Hua Huang, Susan Czertak, Jan Tuomainen, Leslie Madden, and Jan Hill; and (not pictured) Taylor Cohen.