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Scripps, Vanderbilt Launch Biomedical Chemistry Institute

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Scripps Research Institute will team with Vanderbilt University to create a new institute that will integrate research in chemistry and medicine in order to advance personalized medicine, metabolomics, and drug discovery, the partners said today.

The Human Chemical Sciences Institute will involve research and training at Scripps’ campuses in San Diego and Jupiter, Calif., and at Vanderbilt’s Institute for Chemical Biology and its School of Medicine.

The cross-institutional and interdisciplinary research institute will conduct research that capitalizes on each institution’s different assets, including Vanderbilt’s genomics, bioinformatics, and drug discovery capacities and Scripps’ synthetic and bioorganic chemistry capabilities.

With seed funding coming from both Scripps and Vanderbilt, the research at the institute will focus on drug development, personalized medicine, and metabolomics efforts that will study small-molecule metabolites that could lead to diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers.

“The goal of the Human Chemical Sciences Institute is to impact medical care through a chemistry-focused view of the human metabolic state, disease, and the effects of treatment,” explained Jeffrey Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in a statement.

“The chemical sciences provide the basis for current understanding of human physiology, pharmacology, and drug discovery,” said Richard Lerner, president of Scripps Research. “Yet there remains a gulf between academic research in chemistry and medical practice. The time is right for a new initiative that seeks to accelerate the understanding of human chemistry in health and disease,” he added.

The institute’s metabolomics research will be led by Gary Siuzdak, senior director of the center for metabolomics at Scripps California, and Alex Brown, associate director of systems analysis at VICB.

The personalized medicine program will be run by Daniel Salomon, associate professor in the department of molecular and experimental medicine at Scripps California, and Dan Roden, assistant vice chancellor for personalized medicine at Vanderbilt.

The institute’s drug discovery efforts will be headed by Craig Lindsley, director of medicinal chemistry for the Vanderbilt Program in Drug Discovery, and Patrick Griffin, chair of the department of molecular therapeutics at Scripps Florida.