The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation has made a significant investment in Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego’s Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB), a nexus for new ocean discoveries to treat human diseases. The foundation is making an impact on two key fronts: recruiting stellar first-year graduate students and fostering innovative research for new therapies for cancer.
The foundation pledged $400,000 over the next four years to establish the Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Endowed Fellowship in Marine Drug Discovery at Scripps to recruit the best graduate students from around the world to become new drug discovery leaders. Graduate students assist principal researchers on a day-to-day basis, conducting the basic research legwork necessary to uncover new drugs. Such students bring fresh perspectives into the lab, as well as energy, curiosity, and adeptness with new technologies.
“The fields of medicine, science, and education have long been of interest to The Taubman Foundation,” said Anne Taubman, Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Trustee. “We are pleased to have the ability to support the convergence of these interests in such an exciting way—especially under the auspices of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.”
The Taubman Foundation is also making an investment in cancer research at Scripps Oceanography with a separate pledge of more than $155,000 to fund melanoma studies conducted by William Fenical, a pioneer in marine biomedicine research. Fenical will use the support to develop a class of melanoma drugs called “seriniquinones,” molecules with potential as the basis of a revolutionary melanoma treatment.
The seriniquinones were discovered in CMBB labs and subsequent investigations have shown that the molecules have a unique and previously unknown method to interact with melanoma cancer cells. The seriniquinones are the first drugs that target unique proteins and short-circuit cancer functions. The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman gift will allow Lynnie Trzoss, a stellar Scripps postdoctoral chemist, to undertake a two-year synthesis effort to uncover the right compound that will lead to an effective clinical drug for melanoma.
“This support will allow us to seek selective derivatives for clinical trial candidates,” said Fenical. “We are excited about this discovery, as these drugs have the potential to treat melanoma in a new and effective way.”
-- Mario C. Aguilera