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Snapshot: Samantha Spierling



In Brief

Mark Sundrud Receives CCFA Grant

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) has awarded $347,490 over three years to Mark Sundrud, assistant professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). The new funding will support further work in Sundrud’s laboratory to control small intestinal T cell function and inflammation by bile acids.

The majority of the estimated 700,000 Americans living with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune condition that can disrupt the entire gastrointestinal tract, will require surgery at some point during their lives. Sundrud’s laboratory aims to better understand the molecular underpinnings of how inflammatory T cells develop and promote tissue inflammation, with the ultimate goal of applying that knowledge toward the development of new therapies.

“Our lab has made some fascinating new discoveries that implicate a currently unrecognized pathway in the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease,” said Sundrud. “Through the generous support of CCFA, we can now work toward a new and personalized therapeutic strategy where we can identify subsets of Crohn’s disease patients based on a specific genetic mutation and treat them with a rationally designed, targeted therapy.”

For more information on this research, see the Sundrud laboratory website.

Erica Ollmann Saphire Receives Richard M. Elliott Memorial Award

TSRI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire has been recognized for her work in virology with the Richard M. Elliott Memorial Award from the Medical Research Council-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.

Ollmann Saphire, a TSRI Graduate Program alumna, studies the structural biology of viruses, such as Ebola and Lassa. Her team has shed light on viral life cycles, and their work has helped guide the development of new diagnostics and potential therapies against these diseases. She serves on the Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network and as director of the international Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium.

Ollmann Saphire will receive the award on February 11 at the Glasgow Virology Workshop. The award honors Richard M. Elliott, a world-renowned expert in emerging viruses, who passed away in 2015.

For more on Ollmann Saphire’s work, please see her biosketch and laboratory website.

Coming Up: Academic Laboratory Management and Leadership Symposium

TSRI, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Salk Institute, and the University of California, San Diego, will host the Academic Laboratory Management and Leadership Symposium on February 23 and 24 at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

The course is designed to equip postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty with the skills to lead innovative and productive research programs. Graduate students and research staff may also find this training informative and may attend.

The course is organized by postdoc career development administrators from the Torrey Pines Training Consortium (TPTC), and it is based on the acclaimed Burroughs Wellcome Fund/Howard Hughes Medical Institute course in scientific management and similar intensive programs developed across the country.

The course fee is $125 for TSRI participants, and the fee is eligible for the course reimbursement program. To RSVP, go to

At The Auditorium: Pianist Seong-Jin Cho

The La Jolla Music Society will present the next concert in their Discovery Series on February 26 at 3 PM with a performance from award-winning pianist Seong-Jin Cho. Cho will play a selection of works by Berg, Schubert and Chopin. Tickets are available on the society’s website.

The Auditorium at TSRI is located at 10620 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, 92121. Directions and parking information are located on The Auditorium’s website.

CA Onsite Clinic Scheduled for February 15

The next onsite immunization clinic on the California campus will be held Wednesday, February 15, from 9:30 to 11 AM, in the Hazen Theory Building, rooms 203/205. Appointments are not needed.

Conducted by Sharp Rees-Stealy staff, the clinic will provide hepatitis B vaccination free of charge to all TSRI employees. Environmental Health & Safety Occupational Medicine must pre-authorize all other procedures based on the employee's working conditions. These procedures include tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines and other titers, immunizations and procedures.

CA Biosafety Committee Meeting Materials Due February 24

To receive consideration at the next TSRI Institutional Biosafety Committee, registration documents must be submitted to Environmental Health and Safety by Friday, February 24, via email to The meeting will be held Wednesday, March 8, 2:30 to 3:30 PM, building 3301, P2 conference room.

Dixon Lecture Featuring Klaus Rajewsky Scheduled for February 23

The 2017 Frank J. Dixon Memorial Lecture, featuring a presentation by immunologist Klaus Rajewsky, will be held Thursday, February 23, 4 PM, at The Auditorium at TSRI.

Rajewsky is a research group leader at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. His studies focus on mechanisms of normal and malignant development in the immune system. Rajewsky is renowned for his work on B cells and has been honored with several awards, including the Robert Koch Prize and Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has served on various scientific advisory and editorial boards, and has authored more than 400 research articles. Rajewsky will speak on “Cellular competition, surveillance and fitness of normal, virus-infected and malignant B cells.”

The annual lecture honors Frank Dixon, a pioneering immunologist who for many years led the research division of the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation (predecessor organization to TSRI). He passed away in 2008 at the age of 87.

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TSRI Assistant Professor Mark Sundrud (Photo by James McEntee.)

TSRI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire (Photo by Melissa Jacobs.)