HIVE Center Receives $27 Million in NIGMS Funding to Advance HIV Research
Keary Engle Named TSRI Outstanding Mentor for 2017
A New Approach to Cancer Drug Discovery
TSRI Researchers Explore Ways That a Drug Like Avandia Can Be Made Safer



Keary Engle Named TSRI Outstanding Mentor for 2017

By Bonnie Ward

When lab members and other associates describe Keary Engle, assistant professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), words like ‘supportive,’ ‘inspiring’ and ‘enthusiastic’ come to mind. It is perhaps because of this positive nature that Engle has been selected for the 2017 Scripps California Outstanding Mentor award.

Sponsored by TSRI’s Society of Fellows (SoF), the annual award recognizes TSRI faculty who consistently and enthusiastically serve as effective mentors to postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. The award was presented on Sept. 2017 at the SoF Lightning Talks. Winners receive $500 to support professional development, training or team-building activities in their labs.

“It’s obviously a tremendous honor, and I’m very touched that my current and former students took the time to put together an application packet to nominate me for this award,” said Engle.

Engle and his lab members focus on challenges in the field of synthetic methodology. They seek to find faster, more environmentally sustainable ways to create important drug compounds.

Asked for his philosophy on mentorship, Engle said it starts with building relationships. “I think the role of a mentor is to believe in the people I’m mentoring more than they believe in themselves,” he said. “I try to encourage mentees to be the best possible version of themselves that they can be. That’s not hard since I work with so many outstanding people. I think a lot of them are better than I was at that age.”

In numerous nomination letters penned by current and former postdocs, graduate, undergraduate and high school students who worked under Engle, the accolades and gratitude for his mentorship were plentiful. Some examples:

“Prof. Engle does more than just run a lab; he goes above and beyond to ensure his students succeed.”

“He trained me to imagine myself not simply as an ordinary graduate student, but as an independent researcher, able to think outside the box to identify problems and propose solutions.”

“Keary may be awe-inspiringly knowledgeable and amazingly prolific, but he never forgets
those around him …. He cares about the people in his group.”

“It is obvious that Keary does not see being a mentor as a chore, but that he genuinely enjoys it, and being able to encourage the next generation of young scientists in their pursuit of knowledge…”

Engle joined the TSRI faculty in 2015, but his experience with the institute goes back to his days as a graduate student. After earning a B.S. degree at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in Chemistry, Economics, Mathematics and Statistics—and spending a year as a Fulbright Fellow in Germany—Engle applied to the TSRI and University of Oxford joint doctoral program.

This unique graduate program, made possible through the Skaggs-Oxford Scholarship Program, gave him the opportunity to train with renowned chemists Jin-Quan Yu at TSRI and Véronique Gouverneur and John M. Brown at the University of Oxford. In 2013, Engle received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from TSRI and D.Phil. in Biochemistry from Oxford and then completed his postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with Nobel Laureate Robert H. Grubbs.

Engle was “elated” to receive a job offer from TSRI. “There’s a sense of excitement and thrill of discovery that really permeates the whole place,” he said in a News & Views article in 2015.

After just two years in operation, the Engle Laboratory employs a dozen graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and has several undergraduate and high school interns as well. Since its launch, the lab has been notably productive, already publishing eight high-impact independent research articles, with several more in the pipeline.

In August, Engle received a $1.25 million “Outstanding Investigator Award” from NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The five-year grant provides general, long-term support for research programs that are deemed especially promising. It is aimed at scientists who are just starting their careers to help free them from the usual pressure to compete for shorter-term grants. The grant will support the Engle Laboratory’s development of powerful new molecule-building techniques for drug discovery.

Send comments to: press[at]

Keary Engle

TSRI Assistant Professor Keary Engle

Hear Engle speak about his work and his graduate education at TSRI and Oxford University.