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Scripps Research Awarded Four Stars from Charity Navigator

The Scripps Research Institute has received a second consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a leading independent evaluator of charities that spotlights sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency in the nation’s largest charities.

“Only 14 percent of the charities we rate have received at least two consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that The Scripps Research Institute outperforms most other charities in America,” according to Ken Berger, Charity Navigator president and CEO. “Our goal in all of this is to provide donors with essential information needed to give them greater confidence in the charitable choices they make.”

Institute Licenses Compound Management Platform

Scripps Florida scientists have designed and licensed a new technology that dramatically improves the quality control and management of compounds used for high-throughput screening, a process that can be used to search for potential new drugs.

The technology, which consists of an automated instrumentation platform called the Plate AuditorTM, has been licensed for manufacture and sale to the Brooks Life Science Systems division of Brooks Automation, a leading worldwide provider of automation, vacuum, and instrumentation solutions for multiple markets including semiconductor manufacturing, life sciences, and clean energy.

The Plate AuditorTM was designed by Scripps Florida’s Senior Scientific Director Peter Hodder, with Senior Scientist Louis Scampavia and HTS Robotics Engineer Pierre Baillargeon. It combines advanced spectroscopy and image analysis techniques to perform rapid, automated, and nondestructive quality assessment of compounds in high-throughput screening collections. It also monitors the quality of all samples through their lifecycle, a practice not currently possible with existing technologies.

“This is the first instrument of its kind and first in its class,” Hodder said.  “As a detection platform, it provides a wealth of information about a compound sample that you simply couldn’t get from one instrument.”

Scripps Research uses the instrument routinely for quality control of more than 1 million compounds in its drug-discovery screening operation.

Hodder hopes the new technology gets people thinking about Scripps Florida in a brand new way. “We want people to know that in addition to discovering therapeutic molecules, we can also design and build novel instrumentation for screening operations,” said Hodder, who founded and has directed the high-throughput screening laboratory at Scripps Florida since 2005.

More information on the technology can be found in a recent publication, “Monitoring of HTS compound library quality via a high-resolution image acquisition and processing instrument, by Baillargeon P., Scampavia L., Einsteder R., and Hodder P. in the  Journal of Laboratory Automation  2011 Jun;16(3):197-203) or the technology patent (

Scripps California to Host NOBCChE Western Regional Meeting

The Scripps Research Institute will host the Western regional meeting of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Friday, March 23 to Sunday, March 25. The event will feature scientific presentations, a tour of the institute’s labs, a student poster session, and a science teacher workshop.

Established in 1975, the NOBCChE (pronounced No-be-shay) mission is to support and build a cadre of people of color in science and technology. The organization promotes careers in science and technology as an achievable goal for elementary, middle, and high school students. In addition, NOBCChE encourages college students to pursue graduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The conference kicks off Friday, March 23 with a science educators’ workshop for middle and high school teachers at the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla from 9 AM to 4 PM, followed by a 6 to 9 PM opening night reception. The Saturday, March 24 sessions will be held from 9 AM to 6 PM in the Beckman Center on the Scripps California campus. The Sunday, March 25 sessions will be held at the Grande Colonial Hotel from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Jamie Williamson, professor in the Departments of Molecular Biology and Chemistry and dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies, will welcome conference participants, and K.C. Nicolaou, chair of the Scripps Research Department of Chemistry, Aline W. and L.S. Skaggs Professor of Chemical Biology, and Darlene Shiley Chair in Chemistry, will provide the Saturday luncheon keynote address. Additional institute participants include Kim Janda, Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry, director of the Worm Institute for Research & Medicine, and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research; and William Roush, professor in the Department of Chemistry, executive director of Medicinal Chemistry, and associate dean of the Scripps Research Kellogg School of Science and Technology.

Other presenters include:

  • John A.W. Harkless, Howard University
  • Adriana Beltran, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Nisana Andersen, University of California, Riverside
  • José Manuel Cornejo Bravo, Autonomous University of Baja California
  • Crystal Valdez, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Katherine Kantardjieff, California State University San Marcos
  • William Jackson- Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis
  • Ashley Swanson, University of California, Riverside

Registration details are available at the NOBCChE website. If you have questions, contact the Dawn Eastmond of the Graduate Office, .

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Taking Molecules to the High Tech Fair
Members of the Olson lab reach out to middle and high school students at the High Tech Fair, held February 7 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.