Dickinson Foundation Continues Legacy of Philanthropy


The Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Foundation announced a $553,000 gift to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, for the purchase of a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer to be used for Scripps research in marine drug discovery.

This spectrometer will be used to examine the structures of molecules at high resolution, much like a magnetic resolution imaging (MRI) machine is used to look at human tissues.  It is widely used in many aspects of organic chemistry and biochemistry.  This instrument is vital to accelerating the structural analysis of molecules discovered during marine drug discovery research at Scripps.  The spectrometer will be used primarily by the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB), which focuses on identifying medical and pharmaceutical therapeutics from marine sources.   

“The NMR spectrometer is the single most important instrument to CMBB’s research, and we are deeply grateful for the Dickinson Foundation’s support in our research in cancer and antibiotic uses of marine elements,” said Bill Fenical,  founding director of CMBB and a distinguished professor of oceanography at Scripps.

Scripps scientists are also interested in finding clinical solutions using the unique natural products chemistry of marine cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and the spectrometer can provide highly detailed, specific information about these molecules.

“The marine molecules we study are unique to the sea and dissimilar from the terrestrial (land) environment,” said Bill Gerwick, a distinguished professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences at Scripps and UC San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “The ‘low hanging’ fruit for clinical uses of terrestrial molecules have been picked, so we need new techniques to extend this anticancer and anti-inflammatory drug discovery research into the marine environment.”

In addition to this gift, the Dickinson Foundation supports first-year graduate students for a one-year fellowship at Scripps.  CMBB will start its second year of Dickinson fellows this fall.

“Scripps and UC San Diego have done more for San Diego than any single institution. The Dickinson Foundation enjoys helping Scripps and we are lucky to participate in this effort for research,” said Martin Dickinson, President of the Dickinson Foundation.

“We see our investment in Scripps as the start of a ripple effect,” said Kris Dickinson, Executive Director of the Dickinson Foundation. “We fund one student fellowship and watch that student lead the way in being at the top, and we watch the rings grow bigger and bigger.”

The Dickinson Foundation Trustees recently met with Scripps researchers Fenical, Gerwick and Chambers Hughes, an assistant professor of chemical biology to learn more about current research efforts at CMBB and met the inaugural class of the Dickinson Fellows. 

“The Dickinson Fellowship is fitting because we focus our philanthropic efforts on education and health care-related causes, and these students are the next generation of scientists who will find new science for new discoveries,” said John Seiber, a Dickinson Foundation trustee.

“I’m glad the Dickinson Foundation opens the doors for other philanthropic efforts—it’s hard to walk out the door without helping Scripps,” said Martin Dickinson.

To learn more about philanthropic opportunities at Scripps, please visit: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/giving 

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