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In Brief

Faculty Promotions: Marisa Roberto, Eros Lazzerini Denchi

Marisa Roberto and Eros Lazzerini Denchi, both principal investigators at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have been promoted, as announced at the recent meeting of the institute’s Board of Trustees.

Roberto is now a professor in TSRI’s Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders. The Roberto lab studies the brain mechanisms behind the effects of neuropeptides, alcohol and other drugs of abuse in the hope of developing new therapies to alleviate alcohol dependence and other addictive disorders. For further information about Roberto and her work, see her faculty webpage and lab website.

Lazzerini Denchi is now an associate professor in TSRI’s Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine. His lab focuses on the mechanisms that protect chromosome ends and their deregulation in human diseases such as cancer and aging. For more information on Lazzerini Denchi’s work, see his faculty webpage and lab website.

Salvatore Butera Named Distinguished Alumnus

Salvatore “Sal” Butera, chief science officer for the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology & Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) and a member of the Burton lab at TSRI, has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University, during the college’s recent Oath and Hooding ceremony.

Butera was the first person at the College of Veterinary Medicine to complete DVM and MS degrees simultaneously. He then earned a PhD at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Before joining TSRI in 2011, Butera spent 22 years with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, doing HIV biomedical research before ultimately serving as associate director for laboratory science in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

Author of more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and nine book chapters, Butera also has served in editorial and advisory positions for the Archives of Virology and American Foundation for AIDS Research. In his current role at TSRI, Butera helps advance the work of the CHAVI-ID by coordinating scientific resources across the center to promote progress towards an HIV vaccine. 

Mahalakshmi Ramadass Wins AHA Fellowship

Mahalakshmi Ramadass, postdoctoral fellow in the Catz lab, has received an American Heart Association (AHA) Western State Affiliate Postdoctoral fellowship, which supports young scientists in cardiovascular and stroke research.

Ramadass’s project is titled “Regulation of neutrophil secretion for the control of inflammation.” Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of neutrophils, a type of immune cell, and identifying potential drug targets that curb neutrophils’ inflammatory response while preserving their ability to fight off pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.

The nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, the AHA has invested more than $3.7 billion in research, including work by 13 Nobel laureates, since 1949. 

Study from Martemyanov Lab Named 'Paper of the Week'

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has named a study from the Martemyanov lab “paper of the week.” The study—“Orphan Receptor GPR158 Is an Allosteric Modulator of RGS7 Catalytic Activity with an Essential Role in Dictating Its Expression and Localization in the Brain,” by Cesare Orlandi, Keqiang Xie, Ikuo Masuho, Ana Fajardo-Serrano, Rafael Lujan and Kirill A. Martemyanov—was selected for the honor with the journal’s May 29 issue.

The issue profiles Orlandi, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the Martemyanov lab, and a podcast interview with Martemyanov is posted online.

Wendy Havran to Speak in CA Faculty Lecture June 10

TSRI Professor Wendy Havran is the featured speaker at the next Faculty Lecture Series presentation, Wednesday, June 10, on the La Jolla, California campus. Havran’s lecture is titled Immune Crosstalk in Epithelial Barrier Tissues.” The lecture will begin at 5 PM in the Timkin Amphitheater in the Green Hospital. A reception will follow in the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Building, first floor. For further information, see the Faculty Lecture Series webpage. The series is supported by an endowment from the Cochrane-Cartan families, established by TSRI Professor Emeritus Charles G. Cochrane.

Seth Tomchik to Speak at SRF Faculty Seminar

Seth Tomchik, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, will be the featured speaker at the next Faculty Seminar series, hosted by the Society of Research Fellows on Friday, June 12, from 4 to 5 PM in the Fink Auditorium, Scripps Florida.

The Tomchik lab focuses on deciphering how neuronal circuits encode and process sensory information, and how these representations of sensory stimuli are modified during the learning process, to ultimately understand how neurological disorders alter brain function and behavior.

The lecture series is intended to highlight the quality of research conducted at Scripps Florida and foster community relationships, both professional and personal. A reception will follow at 5 PM in the Scripps Café.

Bicoastal Career Workshop: Non-Federal Fellowship Sources

A bicoastal workshop for TSRI postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, “Fellowship Opportunities from Non-Federal Sources,” is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, from 1:30 to 3 PM, in the Beckman building’s Keck Amphitheater at Scripps California and, via live broadcast, from 4:30 to 6 PM, on the Florida campus in room B158.

Speakers from the American Chemical Society, American Heart Association and the Susan G. Komen organization will describe their groups' funding practices, outline grant and fellowship opportunities, share grant-writing tips and detail grant review processes.

The session is part of the 2015 Grantsmanship and Funding Fest, presented by the Torrey Pines Training Consortium, a collaboration of TSRI, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Sanford–Burnham Medical Research Institute and the University of California, San Diego.

Additional information is available on the TSRI Career and Postdoctoral Services website. RSVP is required.

Meet the Alumni: Mabelle Ashe, Mohammad Faghihi

Two Meet the Alumni events, one on each campus, will be held Wednesday, June 17, featuring guests from the growing TSRI alumni network. Speakers will share their insights on specific career options, career transitions and opportunities that influenced their career decisions.


The La Jolla campus event will feature Mabelle Ashe, marketing communications and product manager at Active Motif, an international provider of innovative tools for epigenetics and gene regulation research. Ashe received a PhD from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. A postdoctoral fellow in the Wittenberg lab from 2004 to 2006, she studied G1/S transcription regulation.

The Meet the Alumni session will be held from 4 to 5 PM, in the Graduate Office dining room in the Hazen Theory building.


Mohammad Ali Faghihi, assistant professor in the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, will speak at the Jupiter campus Meet the Alumni event, from 4 to 5PM in the Founder’s Room.

Faghihi earned an MD from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and a PhD from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. He was a postdoctoral fellow at TSRI in the Wahlestedt laboratory from 2005 to 2010 and also served as a staff scientist. Faghihi’s research focuses on non-coding RNAs and their involvement in neurological disorders.

Light refreshments will be served at each event. Both events are sponsored by TSRI’s Career and Postdoctoral Services and require an RSVP.

CA Career Workshop: Interview Skills

A small-group interview skills workshop for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students will be held Tuesday, June 16, from 3 to 4:30 PM, in the Graduate Office large conference room, first floor, Hazen Theory building.

Conducted by Jean Branan, Career and Postdoctoral Services program coordinator, the session will help participants strengthen effective verbal and non-verbal communications through videotaped mock interviews and feedback sessions based on standard HR-screening questions. RSVP is required. 

ScrippsAssists to Hold CA Blood Drive June 18

ScrippsAssists will hold its next quarterly blood drive in partnership with the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB) on Thursday, June 18, from 9 AM to 2:30 PM, on the California campus. The SDBB bloodmobile will be located in the parking lot adjacent to the Skaggs/MBB building, 10596 N. Torrey Pines Road.

Eligible donors are asked to make an appointment on the SDBB website. Walk-in donors will be welcomed. Guidelines and eligibility requirements are also listed on the blood bank website. Donors should bring photo identification, a record of medications they currently take and a list of locations visited outside the United States in the past three years.

All donors will automatically be entered into a prize raffle. For further information on the blood drive, contact project coordinator Leslie Madden at

CA Campus Tees Off 20th Annual Golf Tournament July 16

Scripps California will hold its 20th Annual Golf Tournament and Dinner on Thursday, July 16, from 1 to 8 PM at the Riverwalk Golf Club in San Diego.

The $67 per-person fee covers a round of golf, driving range balls, carts and dinner. Eighteen four-person teams will play in the scramble-format, gun-shot-start tournament. Team slots, available on a first-paid, first-play basis, are open to family or friends, but must include at least one TSRI employee. Less-than-full foursomes and single players may be matched to complete a team.

Prizes will be presented to the top teams, closest to the pin, longest driver, doormats (last place) and more, according to tournament organizers.

Reservations, including full payment, must be made by Wednesday, July 1. Reservation forms are available on the sports@Scripps website. For further information contact tournament chair Patrick Skog, x4-9545 or, or Todd Maxwell, x4-9566 or

At the Auditorium: Mainly Mozart Spotlight Series

A Mainly Mozart Spotlight Series concert will be held Saturday, May 30, 7:30 PM, featuring violinists Steven Copes and Alexander Kerr, violist Jonathan Vinocour, cellist Efe Baltacigil and pianist Jon Kimura Parker. They will perform Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4 and Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44. Program and ticket information can be found on the Mainly Mozart website.

The Auditorium at TSRI is located at 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego 92121.

Send comments to: mikaono[at]

Marisa Roberto is now full professor.

lazzerini denchi
Eros Lazzerini Denchi has been promoted to associate professor.

Scripps Florida SRF Holds Spring Events
Postdoctoral fellows and their families toasted their native cultures with food, dress, fun and games at the third annual International Party of the Society of Research Fellows (SRF). Above (left to right) Supriya Swarnkar, Rea Gürtler and Tavita Garrett join in the celebration. (Photo by Olga Ostrovskaya)

A 20-member team from Scripps Florida recently volunteered a day’s labor for Habitat for Humanity, helping renovate a new home for a low-income family in Jupiter. Above, SRF volunteer Cullen Schmid of the Bohn lab readies her paint tools. (Photo by Vladimir Sanoylenko)