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In Brief

Matthew Disney and Kate Carroll Win 2013 ACS Awards

Two chemists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been selected by the American Chemical Society (ACS) to receive a pair of prestigious awards. Associate Professor Matthew Disney has won the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry. Associate Professor Kate Carroll has received the 2013 Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry. The ACS awards honor scientists who have performed distinguished research while still in the early stages of their careers.

The 78-year old Eli Lilly award recognizes “outstanding research in biological chemistry of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality,” according to the ACS. Disney is recognized for his work in designing lead therapeutics to target the products of disease-associated genes from only sequence. In initial applications of this approach, Disney and his colleagues have developed compounds to specifically target a variety of genetic abnormalities that cause disease, including myotonic dystrophy, Huntington’s disease and cancer. Previous winners of the Eli Lilly Award include TSRI faculty members Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, Peter G. Schultz and Benjamin Cravatt.

The Pfizer award, first presented in 1945, spotlights “outstanding work in enzyme chemistry where the presence of enzyme action is unequivocally demonstrated.” The award recognizes Carroll’s pioneering research using the tools of chemistry and biology to elucidate cysteine oxidation as a new paradigm in signal transduction and the regulation of protein function. Most recently, Carroll has discovered that the signaling molecule, hydrogen peroxide, oxidizes a specific cysteine residue in the active site of the epidermal growth factor receptor. This modification works like a switch, activating EGFR and other kinases that drive cell growth and proliferation. Her team is currently leveraging these discoveries to develop new strategies for the treatment of diseases, including cancer and diabetes, which are known to have a strong oxidative stress component. Previous Pfizer Award winners include TSRI’s Frank Huennekens, Paul Schimmel and Gerald Joyce.

Disney and Carroll will present symposium lectures at the Fall 2013 ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis. See the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry Recipients webpage for further details on the Disney and Carroll awards.

TSRI Researchers Partner with Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation

Scientists at TSRI and the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation have formed a partnership to lay the groundwork for lifesaving advancements in personalized breast cancer treatment and care. The genomic sequencing project will compare the genes of a woman’s healthy cells with her breast tumor cells to better understand the changes that cause breast cancer to develop and progress.

Specifically, Edith Sanford will provide tissue samples from 25 women with breast cancer to TSRI for analysis to identify the changes in genes and proteins that are linked to the cancer, and Edith Sanford will then validate findings through clinical testing.

Members of the research team at TSRI include Brandon Young and the Genomics Core at Scripps Florida and Scripps California colleagues Nicholas Schork, Ali Torkamani and Andrew Su.

Juan Carlos de la Torre to Speak November 14 in Faculty Lecture Series

TSRI Professor Juan Carlos de la Torre will speak on “Arenaviruses: From Basic Virology to Novel Therapeutic Targets” Wednesday, November 14, in the Faculty Lecture Series on the California campus. The lecture will be held at 5 PM in the Valerie Timken Amphitheater, Green Hospital. A reception will follow in the Arnold and Mabel Beckman building, first floor. For more information, see de la Torre’s Faculty Lecture Series webpage.

Academic Careers Roundtable: How to Stand Out in Campus Interviews

The journey to a tenure-track position is the topic of the Academic Careers Roundtable, an informal faculty-led discussion session, scheduled for Friday, November 16, from noon to 1 PM, in the Graduate Office Training Room (Building 3377, room 300), California campus.

The event will feature faculty guest Wendy Havran, professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science. The roundtable will focus on “campus interviews and the job talk: putting your best foot forward,” according to Ryan Wheeler, manager of the Career and Postdoctoral Services Office. The session will include lunch.

Held in a small-group discussion format, the bimonthly Academic Careers Roundtable is a professional development series presented and sponsored by the Career and Postdoctoral Services Office.

Registration for the November 16 roundtable is required. For details about other career and postdoctoral services, visit the department’s website.

CA Campus Hosts Researcher-to-Entrepreneur Workshop

“From Lab to Launch,” a workshop introducing scientists to business skills and available resources to develop their own companies, will be held on Saturday, December 8, from 9:30 AM to 2:15 PM, in the Beckman Building’s Keck Amphitheater on the California campus. The event is organized by the Oxbridge Biotechnology Roundtable (OBR), a life sciences student/industry networking forum.

“[The event] will highlight how to commercialize your research, get funding and run a biotech company,” said Kelvin Chan, TSRI graduate student in the Yu lab and OBR-San Diego president. “This is also a great opportunity to network and meet people in the San Diego biotech industry.”

Speakers include Kent Pryor, COO of ZZ Biotech LLC; Kevin Lustig, president and CEO of Assay Depot; and Mark Nuell and Susan Gorman, partners in Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch LLP (BSKB). Other “Lab to Launch” organizers and sponsors include Assay Depot, Biotech Acumen, Comprendia Bioscience Consulting Group and BSKB.

Workshop fees, including lunch, are $30 for the general public and $15 for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. TSRI graduate students and postdocs may be reimbursed for the workshop cost through the Society of Fellows reimbursement program, according to Chan.

To register for “Lab to Launch,” visit Further information about OBR activities is available at the group’s website.

CA ScrippsAssists Invites Holiday ‘Adopt-a-Family’ Sign-Ups

To help disadvantaged San Diego families celebrate the upcoming holidays, ScrippsAssists California once again is coordinating TSRI participation in Home Start’s Adopt-a-Family program. The annual project provides meals and gifts to local families who struggle daily to meet their children’s most basic needs.

Friday, November 16 is the deadline to sign up with Home Start for the Adopt-a-Family program, which matches individual or group participants with a specific family, said Marcia McRae, senior administrative assistant in the Department of Chemical Physiology and ScrippsAssists coordinator for the Adopt-a-Family project. Donors receive a family profile, which includes a gift wish list to help guide purchased donations.

“The wish list requests are usually pretty modest,” said McRae. “These are ‘at risk’ families we are helping.” Common requests include small toys, books, educational materials and gift cards for food and fuel.

McRae added that holding a toy drive is another way to help. Cash contributions, to be used for grocery or Target/Walmart gift cards, are also accepted.

To sign up for the Adopt-a-Family or Toy Drive programs, contact McRae at x4-8402 or For more information on the non-profit Home Start agency, which is dedicated to child abuse prevention and family strengthening services, see

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Associate Professor Matthew Disney has won the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry. (Photo by James McEntee.)

Associate Professor Kate Carroll has received the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry. (Photo by James McEntee.)