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Benjamin Cravatt Wins ASBMB Merck Award for Outstanding Research

Benjamin Cravatt, chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology and a professor in the Dorris Neuroscience Center and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s (ASBMB) 2014 Merck Award.

Presented annually since 1981, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry. Past recipients include two Nobel laureates.

Cravatt’s lab focuses on enzymes, which facilitate every chemical reaction in the body. His results have advanced understanding of basic biology and uncovered an array of targets for drug discovery. For further information on Cravatt’s research, visit his TSRI faculty page or lab website.

Peter Hodder to Co-Lead Study to Find New Cancer Drugs

Peter Hodder, senior director of lead identification at TSRI’s Translational Research Institute in Florida, will act as a co-principal investigator for a new three-year study on potential new cancer therapies.

The project, funded by a $1.4 million grant (1RO1CA178143) from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and co-directed by Bruce Clurman of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, will focus on identifying small molecules that restore the function of ubiquitin ligases that are mutated in cancers.

The ubiquitin-proteasome system targets proteins for degradation and controls many biological processes. Disruption of this activity has profound consequences and contributes to many diseases, including cancer, making the system an important therapeutic target.

“We’re contributing the screening to the project to help find new probes for this target,” Hodder said. “We’re expecting to gather an interesting portfolio of candidates and, once that happens, we plan to do some of the drug optimization work at Scripps Florida as well.”

Zhaoming Su Wins Award for ALS Research

Zhaoming Su, research associate in the Disney lab, has been awarded the Milton Safenowitz Post-Doctoral Fellowship for research in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sponsored by the ALS Association.

The fellowship supports Su’s research in the rational design of drugs to specifically target a genetic defect that is the most common cause of ALS. These studies could provide better understanding of the cause of this devastating disease.

FL Postdoctoral Fellows Win Gordon Conference Poster Competition

Three TSRI postdoctoral fellows—Jeremy Lohman of the Shen lab, and Jakob Fuhrmann and Daniel Slade of the Thompson lab—won the best poster competition at the Gordon Conference on Enzymes Coenzymes and Metabolic Pathways, held July 14-19 in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.

The week-long Gordon Research Conferences promote discussion and free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The Waterville Valley conference highlighted the fundamental aspects of enzymology relating to life processes, the molecular level transformations underlying the biosynthesis of various biological entities from proteins to structurally complex small molecule natural products and the frontiers of structural enzymology and drug development.

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California Healthcare Institute Visits TSRI
Representatives from the California Healthcare Institute (CHI), a public policy organization for biomedical research and industry, visited TSRI July 16, learning about TSRI’s research programs and importance of government funding. Here, James Voss, a research associate in the Burton lab, chats with CHI’s Erica Hiar (left), director of public relations and communications, and Jenny Carey, associate director of federal government relations and programs.  (Photo by Cindy Brauer.)