Unlike many funds that are powered by an endowed foundation, the Scripps Family Impact Fund is seeded by the fourth and fifth generations of the Scripps family, known for their media businesses. Each year, family members contribute to the fund, choose a philanthropic area of focus then select and support those programs that will best “unleash our collective power to help others,” as the Fund’s website states. In 2020, they chose, not surprisingly, to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.
When they learned about the ambitious efforts at Scripps Research (founded in 1924 with a donation by an ancestral family member, Ellen Browning Scripps) to address the COVID-19 pandemic across multiple fronts—detection, prevention and treatment—the Fund contacted the Office of Philanthropy at Scripps Research and asked where and how they could help.
A presentation by Arnab Chatterjee, PhD, the vice president of Medicinal Chemistry at Calibr, the institute’s drug discovery division, secured their confidence. He introduced them to ReFRAME, the institute’s world-class drug repurposing library and explained how utilizing one or more of the approximately 12,000 compounds already proven safe in humans could significantly jumpstart the development of a potential new drug. He and his team had already succeeded in mining ReFRAME to identify and repurpose drugs to treat tuberculosis and cryptosporidiosis (a life-threatening parasitic illness in children). They were certain they could repurpose ones to treat COVID-19.
The members of the Scripps Family Impact Fund shared his vision and enthusiasm and helped get the project off the ground.
“We are working with trusted partners who have been doing great work under the Scripps name for decades,” says Ray Granado, secretary of the Fund’s board of directors, adding that the institute is “the best at what they do.” To date, the Fund has donated nearly $500,000 toward identifying therapeutic candidates to treat COVID-19.
And the search is paying off, with the most promising drug candidates now at AbbVie. The biopharmaceutical leader will advance these candidates into clinical development.
“These novel antiviral therapies will impact human health for the current and future pandemics,” says Chatterjee. “We’re grateful to the Scripps Family Impact Fund for their vision and their contributions from the very onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”