Friday, February 25, 2011
Biochemist Michael A. Marletta was chosen Friday to head The Scripps Research Institute, effective Jan. 1, marking the first presidential transition at the nonprofit biomedical research organizations in more than two decades.
Marletta, currently a biochemistry professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, will succeed Dr. Richard A. Lerner, who has led the institution for 25 years.
Marletta will join the Scripps Research faculty on July 1 and become president and chief executive officer exactly six months later.
"I am honored to be named to lead one of the premier research institutions in the world," Marletta said. "Richard Lerner's leadership over the past 25 years has been nothing short of brilliant. His accomplishments as president, coupled with a long and distinguished research career, are simply amazing.
"In addition to my excitement about being asked to serve as president, I am thrilled about moving my research program to Scripps Research and working with my new Scripps Research colleagues to push forward the institute's legacy of creating knowledge, improving healthcare and educating the next generation of scientists," he said.
Like The Scripps Research Institute as a whole, Marletta -- a former recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship -- has focused his research on the intersection of chemistry and biology.
He is acknowledged as a pioneer in discovering the role of nitric oxide, a critical player in communication between cells, according to Scripps Research.
Marletta, who was born in Rochester, New York, in 1951, landed his first faculty post in 1980 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after completing a postdoctoral fellowship.
In 1987, he moved to the University of Michigan as associate professor in its College of Pharmacy and Medical School. In 1991, he was promoted to professor and appointed the John G. Searle Professor of Medicinal Chemistry.
In 1997, he was named to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Marletta moved to UC Berkeley in 2001. At that time, he also received joint appointments at UC San Francisco and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Celebrations welcoming Marletta, honoring Lerner -- who will continue to lead his research program at Scripps after his tenure as president -- and marking the 50th anniversary of the institute's focus on biomedical research are planned throughout the year.
Headquartered in La Jolla, Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience and vaccine development, as well as autoimmune, cardiovascular and infectious disease.
The institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery and technology development.
Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students on its two campuses and operates a graduate program that awards doctoral degrees in biology and chemistry.