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Ardem Patapoutian Named HHMI Investigator

Ardem Patapoutian, professor in the Dorris Neuroscience Center at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator, based on demonstrated potential to contribute significantly to biomedical science. 

“I am immensely pleased for Ardem and what his selection says about him and TSRI,” said Michael A. Marletta, president and CEO of TSRI. “Ardem's work in mechanotransduction is transformative. Our expectations are even higher for him now.”

Patapoutian and 26 other top biomedical researchers from across the country were selected for HHMI’s flagship investigator program from among 1,155 applicants. The new HHMI investigators will begin five-year appointments in September, receiving the significant support necessary to drive their research in creative new directions.

The current group of 330 HHMI investigators includes 15 Nobel laureates and more than 160 members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Patapoutian and his team are investigating the molecular underpinnings of mechanotransduction, the process by which cells convert mechanical forces into chemical signals. Specifically, the lab is focused on identifying the molecules that sense force, determining how these sensors work, and elucidating their physiological roles in biological processes and diseases involving mechanotransduction, including sensing touch, pain and blood pressure.

George Koob Awarded Honorary Degree from University of Bordeaux

George Koob, chair of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at TSRI, was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux Segalen, one of the most prestigious distinctions given to a foreign scientist by a French university, according to the award announcement.

Introduced by Michel Le Moal, professor emeritus at the University of Bordeaux Segalan, as a “friend, colleague, and brother,” Koob proceeded to deliver his lecture, “Pleasure: from homeostasis to pathology—a physiopathology of addiction,” in French, which was greeted with a standing ovation, according to attendees.

Manuel Tunon de Lara, university president, presented Koob with the Doctor Honoris Causa. The University of Bordeaux Segalan campus, one of five in the institution, is the university’s center for medical, life and human sciences.

K.C. Nicolaou Elected to Royal Society of London

K.C. Nicolaou, the Aline W. and L.S. Skaggs Professor of Chemical Biology at TSRI, has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.

Founded in the 1660s, the Society’s fundamental purpose is to recognize, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Its approximately 1,450 Fellows and Foreign Members include more than 80 Nobel laureates.

One of just eight newly elected foreign members, Nicolaou was cited for his “many original and outstanding achievements in the total synthesis of structurally complex and biologically important natural products,” achievements that have helped shape the frontiers of chemistry, biology and medicine.

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Professor Ardem Patapoutian was selected from among 1,155 applicants to be one of 27 new HHMI investigators. (Photo courtesy of Huffaker/AP, © HHMI.)