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TSRI Appoints Immunology Researcher to Faculty

By Eric Sauter

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has appointed Laura Solt as assistant professor at the Florida campus. Previously, Solt was a research associate and a member of the laboratory of Professor Thomas Burris at Scripps Florida.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Laura to our faculty,” said Patrick R. Griffin, chair of the Department of Molecular Therapeutics. “In Tom’s lab, Laura has been very productive and has made an impact in the understanding of several important nuclear receptors. I look forward to her continued success as a new and independent faculty member and her contributions to our understanding of metabolic and inflammatory disorders.”

“I’m honored to become a principal investigator at Scripps Florida,” Solt said. “I want to thank both Tom and Pat for their help and support over the past few years. Scripps, and more specifically, the Department of Molecular Therapeutics, has provided a wonderful environment to perform scientific research. I can’t think of a better place to build my own lab than here.”

Solt received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Pre-Medical studies, from Boston College in 1998 and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 before joining Scripps Florida as a postdoctoral fellow.

Her research is focused on nuclear receptors, a family of protein molecules that are best known for sensing and controlling hormone activity inside the cell; they have been implicated in the progress of a number of cancers, the generation of metabolic syndrome, and several autoimmune diseases. Due to the wide range of physiological and potential pathological consequences of aberrant nuclear receptor activity, this family of proteins is a popular area of research as potential targets for drug development, including for type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome.

In the Burris lab, Solt was deeply involved in research that led to the development of first-in-class, highly selective compounds that effectively suppress certain types of autoimmune responses, including the severity of multiple sclerosis in animal models. These compounds could provide new and more effective therapeutic approaches to multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

“I plan to continue to use those same small molecules we identified, specifically SR1001, in order to better understand the physiology of nuclear receptors,” she said. “However, I would like to eventually expand to other compounds or improve upon those in the series so we can gain more insight into each individual receptor’s function. The collaborative spirit at Scripps Florida and the resources we have here are exactly what I need to continue my work.”

Solt, 36 and a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, is past-president of the Scripps-Florida Society of Research Fellows and one of the founders of the campus’s chapter of Network for Women in Science.

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“The collaborative spirit at Scripps Florida and the resources we have here are exactly what I need to continue my work,” says Assistant Professor Laura Solt. (Photo by Eric Sauter.)