Science is rich with stories of curiosity, struggle, perseverance and discovery. But where these stories begin and where they end depends upon your perspective.
In this issue of Scripps Research Magazine, you’ll read about fresh discoveries and innovations recently reported in scientific journals. From deciphering the underlying causes of autism, heart disease and Alzheimer’s to innovations in synthesizing important compounds used in drug manufacturing, these stories capture the excitement of the science taking place right now in our labs.
But these advances are only possible because of the work that came before. Taking the long view, one understands that science is epic in scale, an accrual of knowledge, craft and technology built over decades and generations.
In a feature article in this issue, for instance, you’ll read about the discovery of a rare antibody made in 2002 by Dennis Burton, PhD, and an international team of collaborators. That discovery helped pave the way to a new class of experimental vaccines and therapies, being developed at Scripps Research, that could revolutionize how we prevent and treat HIV, influenza and other deadly pathogens.
You’ll also read about the many remarkable contributions of K. Barry Sharpless, PhD, Scripps Research professor, Nobel laureate and, most recently, recipient of the Priestley Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society. His inestimable innovations—spanning his career before and after he received the Nobel Prize in 2001— are now crucial tools used by scientists around the world. Rarely would it be appropriate to describe a person’s career as “epic”—it is entirely apt in Barry’s case.
The most compelling stories are those where science touches people’s lives. Many have emerged from Scripps Research. No less than nine approved drugs have originated here, from tafamidis, a drug that protects the nerves of people with a rare genetic disorder, to surfaxin, a therapy that helps premature infants breathe. In the news section, you’ll read that tafamidis is nearing approval for treatment of a life-threatening heart condition, along with two more drugs originated by our scientists for other rare disorders.
Many other potentially life-changing therapies are in the works at Calibr, our drug discovery division, including potential new medicines for cancer, osteoarthritis and neurodegenerative, cardiopulmonary and infectious diseases. Our unique model for accelerating the process of bringing these and other much-needed therapies to the clinic is also outlined in this issue.
Peter Schultz, PhD
President and CEO, Scripps Research