Scientists Identify a Key Morphine Regulator that May Reduce Risk of Pain-Killer Abuse and Addiction
Study Identifies Novel Role of Mitochondria in Immune Function
Researchers Awarded $6 Million to Develop Alternative HIV/AIDS Vaccine
James Williamson Named VP for Academic Affairs; Douglas Bingham Appointed Executive VP/COO



In Brief

TSRI Faculty Listed Among Highly Cited Researchers

A number of faculty members at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been named among the Thomson Reuters 2015 Highly Cited Researchers, an annual list recognizing leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world. They include:

  • Phil Baran, chemistry
  • The late Carlos Barbas, chemistry
  • Dennis Burton, microbiology
  • Ben Cravatt, biology & biochemistry
  • Keary Engle, chemistry
  • Steve Kay, plant and animal science
  • Pascal Poignard, microbiology (adjunct)
  • K. Barry Sharpless, chemistry
  • Eric Topol, medicine
  • Ian Wilson, biology, biochemistry/microbiology
  • Richard Wyatt, microbiology
  • John Yates, biology & biochemistry
  • Jin-Quan Yu, chemistry

According to Thomson Reuters, highly cited papers rank in the top one percent by citations in their subject field and publication year (from 2003 to 2013) in the Web of Science Core Collection, a leading global citation database. 

Candice Contet, Olivier George and Jiang Zhu Contribute to Inaugural BRAIN Consortium Symposium

TSRI Assistant Professors Candice Contet, Olivier George and Jiang Zhu were among the presenters at the San Diego BRAIN Consortium’s (SDBC) recent inaugural symposium, “Neurotechnology Research in San Diego,” which highlighted cutting-edge research in the region related to the Obama administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative. Symposium topics included new developments in wireless devices, nanotechnology, optogenetics, imaging and genetic tools.

Contet and George, both members of the TSRI Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, presented “Genetic tools to study proteins, neuronal ensembles and circuits in addiction.”

Zhu, whose lab studies novel strategies to engineer novel protein devices and to optically manipulate signaling pathways and neural circuits implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, presented “Structural engineering and rational design of optogenetic channels.”

A collaboration of regional research institutions and the entrepreneurial community, the SDBC aims to leverage the BRAIN initiative and its state counterpart, the “California Blueprint for Research to Advance Innovations in Neuroscience,” to develop research programs and new training programs and to establish San Diego as a leader in neurotechnology.

Sandelman Travel Award Winners Announced

The Career and Postdoctoral Services office has announced the winners of the Scripps Florida 2015 Robert M. Sandelman Awards for Scientific Excellence, which support attendance at scientific conferences.

Stephanie Sillivan of the Miller lab has won the $1,500 award to attend an international conference. She will use the award to present her project, “The Role of microRNAs in the Maintenance of Traumatic Memory,” at the 10th Annual Federation of European Neurosciences Societies Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, next July.

Recipients of $1,000 travel grants are:

  • Sweena Chaudhari of the Solt lab, who will present “Regulation of Th17 cell development and function by the REV-ERBs” at a Keystone Symposia in Snowbird, Utah, in January
  • Julien Sejourne of the Page lab, who will present “Developmental control of cortical GABAergic interneuron number via Pten signaling” at the Society for Neuroscience’s 2015 annual conference, in Chicago in October
  • Supriya Swarnkar of the Puthanveettil lab, who will present “Molecular motor, Kif5C: A key regulator in synaptogenesis” at the 12th Gordon Research Conference on Cell Biology of the Neuron, in New Hampshire next June.

Recognizing outstanding scientific achievement and accomplishment, the awards are funded through the Boca Raton-based Sandelman Foundation, established by sales promotion pioneer Robert Sandelman, founder of the first sales promotion agency in the United States and creator of the American Express Gold Card.

Research Fest Recognizes Best Presentations

Several presentations at the recent Scripps Florida Scientific Symposium & Vendor Show, sponsored by the Society of Research Fellows, were recognized for overall excellence.

Oral presentation winners were:

  • Aditi Gurkar, senior research associate in the Niedernhofer lab, for best presentation
  • Rodrigo Pacifico, research associate in the Davis lab, as runner-up
  • Keith Murphy of the Ja lab for best graduate student presentation

Poster presentation winners were:

  • William Guerrant, research associate in the Kissil lab, first place
  • Sarbani Ghoshal, senior research associate in the Chakraborty lab, second place
  • Cari Kessing, research associate in the Valente lab, third place
  • Alex Nanna of the Rader and Roush labs, best graduate student poster presentation

The 2015 Research Festival featured a day of scientific presentations ranging from the sleep mechanics of fruit flies to genetic analysis of bipolar disorder. In addition, exhibitors included some 40 scientific product and services vendors.

Faculty Invited to Visible Molecular Cell Consortium Kickoff Event

TSRI and University of California, San Diego faculty are invited to the kick-off event for the Visible Molecular Cell Consortium (VMCC), a new inter-institutional alliance that aims to map cells in space and time. The event—which will introduce the vision for the VMCC and provide opportunities to initiate new collaborations between laboratories—is scheduled for Friday, October 2, from 8:30 AM to 1 PM. Faculty will have the opportunity to present five-minute “lightning talks” to facilitate discussions regarding potential collaborations.

Registration for the event, which will be held at the Sanford Consortium auditorium, is required.

TSRI Assistant Professors to be Feted at Happy Hour

The Scripps California Network for Women in Science (NWiS), Society of Fellows and Graduate Office will celebrate the accomplishments of TSRI’s assistant professors at a Happy Hour to be held on Thursday, October 1, 4 PM, in the Faculty Club Tennis Room.

“This event will be a great opportunity to network and to hear about the exciting research being done in the up-and-coming labs at TSRI,” says Danielle Grotjahn, NWiS chair.

Food, drinks and raffle prizes will be offered. Assistant professors who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to Danielle Grotjahn in advance. Other attendees do not need to RSVP.

Cyber Awareness Workshop: Phishing Awareness

Tips and advice on resisting email “phishing” attacks—devious attempts to capture personal log-in credentials and infect computers with malicious software—will be offered at a bicoastal User Awareness training session presented by TSRI IT Services on Wednesday, October 7.

The session will be held from noon to 1 PM Pacific time in the Keck Amphitheater, Beckman building, on the Scripps California campus and video live-streamed to the Scripps Florida campus from 3 to 4 PM Eastern time in room B159. Light refreshments will be offered.

The workshop, conducted by Information Security Manager David Matusiak, will be repeated Wednesday, October 14, at the same times, in the Keck Amphitheater in California and room B387 in Florida.

In addition, IT Services will offer both campuses a related training session on password management on Wednesday October 21, repeated on Wednesday October 28. 

ScrippsAssists Seeks Volunteers for Home Start Wine Festival Benefit

ScrippsAssists, the California campus employee service group, invites faculty, staff, students—and family and friends—to volunteer for the Hallo-Wine Fall Festival, a fundraising event for its community partner, Home Start.

The festival, featuring boutique wines, handcrafted beers, specialty spirits and gourmet hors d’oeuvres, is scheduled for Saturday, October 10, from 3 to 6:30 PM, at a private estate near Balboa Park in San Diego. All proceeds will benefit Home Start's programs to strengthen families and protect children in San Diego County.

Volunteers will help with set-up, silent auction monitoring, check-in and check-out and general event support. Available shifts are: noon to 2:30 PM, 2:30 to 5:30/6:30 PM, and 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Contact ScrippsAssists project leader Jess Sheu-Gruttadauria for more information. To purchase tickets to the festival, visit the Home Start website.

CA Biosafety Committee Meeting Materials Due September 30

To receive consideration at the next TSRI Institutional Biosafety Committee, registration documents must be submitted to Environmental Health and Safety by Wednesday, September 30, via email to The meeting will be held Wednesday, October 14, 2:30 to 3:30 PM, in the P2 conference room, Building 3301.

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