Skaggs Family Gives $2 Million for New TSRI Graduate Program Endowment
Harnessing Nature's Vast Array of Venoms for Drug Discovery
Scientists Show Commonly Prescribed Painkiller Slows Cancer Growth
Discovered: Mechanism that Turns Mutant Cells into Aggressive Cancers
Researchers Show Experience Plays Powerful Role in Early Brain Circuit Development
TSRI Appoints Richard King as Chief Operating Officer
Graduate Students Lead the Way at Saturday Science



Of Note

Matt Disney, Phil Baran Named Finalists for Blavatnik Awards

Matthew Disney, professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), and Phil Baran, Darlene Shiley Professor of Chemistry on the California campus of TSRI, have been named chemistry finalists for the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

The awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, recognize outstanding faculty-rank researchers from the nation's leading academic and research institutions.

“The 2016 National Finalists in Chemistry are performing revolutionary research that has the potential to improve lives around the globe,” noted the Blavatnik Family Foundation and New York Academy of Sciences in a statement. 

Disney’s research focuses on RNA-based drug discovery. His lab’s goal is to create new tools for the development of therapies based on a patient’s individual genome sequence and the RNA products of those genes. With these tools, Disney and his team are currently targeting rare “orphan” diseases with no known cure and more common disorders that show poor prognoses, such as drug-resistant cancers. For more information on Disney and his research, see his faculty webpage and lab website.

Baran’s lab explores new avenues for the efficient and practical construction of organic molecules, both naturally occurring and man-made, by pursuing longstanding synthetic challenges and by designing methods of broad utility. For more information on Baran and his research, see his faculty webpage and lab website.

Disney and Baran will be honored at an awards ceremony on September 12 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Jeffrey Rudolf Wins Beckman Fellowship

Jeffrey Rudolf, research associate in the Ben Shen lab at the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), has won an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship. According to the Beckman Foundation website, the award is intended to support postdoctoral fellows at research institutions across the United States "who are judged to have the highest potential for success in an academic career in chemistry and the life sciences and who will become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering and technology."

Rudolf’s research, titled “Engineering Structural Diversity into the Platensimycin and Platencin Natural Products,” studies a new family of antibacterial compounds produced by soil bacteria for insights into natural product biosynthesis. In the context of rising antibiotic resistance, this work could lead to development of antibiotics with new modes of action to combat existing and emerging pathogens.

This year’s 20 Beckman Fellows are also invited to attend a symposium in August at the Beckman Foundation in Irvine, California.

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TSRI Professors Matthew Disney (top) and Phil Baran are Blavatnik Award finalists. (Top photo by James McEntee; bottom photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

New View of Zika

A watercolor painting of the Zika virus by TSRI’s David Goodsell has been highlighted by National Public Radio  blog “Goats and Soda: Stories of Life in a Changing World”. The image shows the microscopic virus, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological disease, in the process of infecting a cell.