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50 Years of Discovery at Scripps Research Institute

It’s been a busy first five decades. Here’s to 50 more years of discovery!


1961: Scripps Research’s founding scientists, including pioneering immunologist Frank Dixon, arrive at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla from the University of Pittsburgh. Their objective is to focus on pure scientific research.

1980: A powerful drug-discovery technique (combinatorial antibody library technology) is developed, and the research leads to the drug adalimumab (Humira) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Multiple other therapies for conditions from hepatitis C to cancer are under development thanks to this technology.

1985: The complete three-dimensional structure of the polio virus is determined for the development of a safer, more effective vaccine against the disease.

1989: The Kellogg School of Science and Technology graduate program launches. It is consistently ranked among the top 10 biology and chemistry graduate programs by US News & World Report.

1990s: The anti-leukemia drug 2-CdA is developed and successfully tested. The medication now cures or reduces symptoms from hairy cell leukemia in almost all those receiving treatment. The compound was reformulated for use in multiple sclerosis.

2001: Dr. K. Barry Sharpless is awarded the Nobel Prize for the development of catalytic asymmetric synthesis.

2002: Dr. Kurt Wüthrich is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for applying the technique of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to solving the structures of the DNA, proteins, sugars, and lipids that have been critical in the design of drugs to treat cancer and HIV.

2009: An antibody that can bind to a part of the HIV virus is identified. A vaccine made from this antibody has the potential to be very effective, according to early research.

2011: Renowned biochemist Michael A. Marletta, Ph.D., from the University of California, Berkeley, is appointed the next Scripps Research president, succeeding Richard Lerner, M.D., who led the Institute for 25 years. 

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