Designed to build on the innovative research and interdisciplinary culture at Scripps Research, the Collaborative Innovation Fund launched its first internal grant competition last year and invited faculty, either individually or in teams, to present their most ambitious research programs. After reviewing 22 proposals, the fund’s Scientific Advisory Board awarded funding to three programs that hold the potential to deliver paradigm-shifting discoveries.

Chemists Ahmed Badran and Jin-Quan Yu are partnering to produce artificial metalloenzymes, something scientists have been trying to create for some time. By bridging the speed and control afforded by enzymes with the reaction scope of synthetic catalysts, this program could enable the creation of new chemical structures at large scale and low cost.

A second team, comprising Xin Jin from the Department of Neuroscience and Ilia Droujinine from the Department of Molecular Medicine, has set out to map the elusive cellular circuits behind interorgan communication. Working at the interface of genomics and physiology and using a versatile technology they developed, Jin and Droujinine plan to uncover new relationships between receptors and their messenger molecules. Their studies could provide much-needed insight into systemic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

Finally, chemist Phil Baran and neuroscientist Li Ye are teaming up to solve the current limitations in visualizing reversible drug-target interactions in living organisms. Using electrochemistry in vivo, the Baran and Ye labs will image target-bound drugs in the central nervous system with precise spatial resolution, transforming our understanding of drug efficacy and potential side effects.

“Scripps Research has now had two Nobel laureates in two consecutive years for major scientific contributions made at the institute. This is an opportunity for scientists and funders to propel truly innovative research with the ability to change lives.” 

-Tom Daniel, MD
Scripps Research board member and founder of the Collaborative Innovation Fund

Each team will receive $450,000 to $750,000 over the next three years to pursue their ambitious studies.

Learn more about or contribute to the Collaborative Innovation Fund.