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May 23, 2024

24/05/2024

Scripps Research's Skaggs Graduate School awards doctoral degrees to 32nd graduating class Skaggs family also honored at commencement ceremony as first recipients of Scripps Research Presidential Medal

May 23, 2024

LA JOLLA, CA Scripps Research awarded doctoral degrees to 59 graduate students during the 32nd commencement, held by the institute's Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences on Friday, May 17, 2024.

Welcoming the hundreds of assembled family, friends, faculty and fellow graduate students to the event, Philip Dawson, PhD, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies and professor of chemistry at Scripps Research, said, We're here to celebrate the achievements of 59 remarkable students who have defended their theses this year - the largest graduating class in the history of the program, which soon will have 950 alumni. I'm very proud of this group, and guarantee that none of them foresaw the turns their scientific and personal journeys would take when they entered the program.

Many of the doctoral degree recipients entered the program immediately prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience that would necessitate significant changes to the already complex process of laboratory research, while the institute focused on many lines of investigation surrounding SARS-CoV-2. Indeed, several students in this graduating class took part in COVID-19-related research during their studies.

Students comprising this year's graduating class represent the entire biomedical research spectrum of the 32 faculty members who served as their advisors and mentors, and in whose labs the students completed doctoral studies. From neuroscience, immunology and structural biology, to chemistry, chemical biology and computational biology, the graduating class completed thesis research projects spanning a wide array of disciplines. In addition to SARS-CoV-2, students tackled disease targets and complex problems in human health, including cancer, HIV, autism, leukemia, Lassa virus, malaria, antibiotic resistance, addiction and others.

A PhD isn't just about published papers and discoveries. It's about becoming an independent scientist someone who is capable of asking an insightful question, designing experiments to probe the question, and executing often technically challenging experiments to obtain data, continued Dawson. We train our graduates to be experimentally fearless.' Critically, the skills they hone during their PhD allow graduates to excel in life and in diverse professional activities. I look forward to watching them rise to leadership positions around the world.

Prior to the introduction of the graduating students, noted chemist Phil S. Baran, PhD, a current faculty member, author of hundreds of publications, Dr. Richard A. Lerner Endowed Chair and a 2002 alumnus of the Scripps Research graduate program, gave the keynote address. He encouraged the students to identify their personal mission statement and apply their skills toward a cause or career that energizes and inspires them.

Class of 2024, let me leave you with a reminder that every chemical reaction needs a driving force, said Baran. Similarly, anything worth accomplishing requires complete immersion, dedication and great sacrifice. The journey of life requires some suffering, and you might as well suffer while doing something that you love to your core. From one Scripps grad to another, the recipe is simple: find that thing you would do even if it paid nothing. Your mission attack it with obscene passion. Surround yourself by excellence, and then, don't look back.

Scripps Research President and CEO Peter Schultz, PhD, the L.S. Sam Skaggs Presidential Chair, placed the day's events in the context of the institute's 100-year history, currently being celebrated with centennial commemorations throughout the year.

Since it started in 1924, Scripps Research has grown into one of the world's leading research institutes, making major contributions to science and medicine and improving the lives of people across the globe, said Schultz during his remarks at the opening of Friday's ceremony. Since 1989, the graduate program has been an essential part of the Scripps Research story, training scientific leaders who will carry on this mission. The graduates leave here today having gained the knowledge and tools to make a profound impact on the world, and I should say with this privilege comes the obligation to do so.

After Schultz officially conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the graduates, he then spoke about a different type of recognition, one created to elevate individuals who have made an extraordinary impact on Scripps Research and all its scientists, students and trainees the inaugural Scripps Research Presidential Medal, which was presented to the Skaggs family.

Specifically, the Scripps Research Presidential Medal recognized the family's legacy at the institute, beginning with the contributions of L.S. Sam and Aline Skaggs and continuing today through their children and grandchildren. Claudia Skaggs Luttrell, who has served on the Scripps Research Board for 22 years, accepted the award on behalf of the family and their foundation, The ALSAM Foundation. The Skaggs family's generosity over the decades has played a critical role in shaping Scripps Research.

Their support for The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology in 1996 enabled Scripps to recruit and support the world's leading scientists, said Schultz during his remarks. The Skaggs family made it possible to endow 100 graduate fellowships in the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences, moving us closer to our goal of endowing all our graduate students, and unencumbering them to focus on their passions. And most recently, the Sk
LINK: https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2024/20240523-skagg...
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