April 2017
Dear SBP Community,

This month we bring you a new partnership between SBP’s Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., and Rady Children’s Hospital that seeks to find better treatments for pediatric brain cancer patients. The collaboration will allow individualized drug screening using patient samples, providing a rare advantage to patients and oncologists.

We also share a discovery that explains why problems with a single gene cause both deafness and improper heart development. And read about our advances in screening, understanding and finding new drugs for Alzheimer's disease, obesity and diabetes.

We announce the hiring of a new cancer genetics investigator, Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D. And with great sadness we mourn the passing of Dongxian Zhang, Ph.D., an associate professor who had been with the Institute since 1999.

Robert Wechsler-Reya partners with Rady Children's to fight pediatric brain cancer

Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., has been named program director for the Joseph Clayes III Research Center for Neuro-Oncology and Genomics at Rady Children’s, which brings together teams of experts to identify the best therapy for each patient’s tumor. Wechsler-Reya will remain director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program at SBP’s Cancer Center.

Read more >> 

Select media coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune


Research may explain congenital deafness

Research from Yu Yamaguchi, M.D., Ph.D., explains why mutations in a gene called TMEM2 cause deafness, and how eliminating the same gene impairs heart development. His lab's study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that TMEM2 encodes an enzyme that breaks down a molecule that's an important component of inner ear fluid and the material surrounding cells in many tissues.

Read more >> 

New research explains how experimental obesity drug works

A chemical called celastrol, found in a traditional Chinese herb, prevents obesity in mice, but how it works has been a mystery until now. In a new study in Molecular Cell, Xiaokun Zhang, Ph.D., identified the receptor on which celastrol acts, which could lead to safer weight control drugs.  

High-throughput screening against a new target for Alzheimer’s drugs

A new strategy for finding Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics has been developed by a team co-led by Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D. The screening method, reported in Frontiers in Pharmacology, identifies compounds that block generation of a toxic peptide important at early stages of the disease.


Research to combat biothreat of “Black Death”

Plague is an old disease, but remains a danger even to us—antibiotic-resistant strains could be weaponized. Toward new drugs, Francesca Marassi, Ph.D., has developed a way to visualize the protein that makes plague bacteria so lethal. The research was published in the Journal of Biomolecular NMR.

Drug reverses type 2 diabetes in mice

An experimental drug developed with the help of Anthony Pinkerton, Ph.D., and Robert Liddington, Ph.D., may lessen the need for insulin. A study published in Nature Chemical Biology shows that the compound restores blood sugar control in a mouse model of diet-induced diabetes.

Select media coverage: San Diego Union-Tribune
New investigator Anindya Bagchi joins SBP

Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D., who studies the role of discrete segments of the genome in cancer, is joining the faculty as associate professor.

Remembering associate professor Dongxian Zhang

Dongxian Zhang, Ph.D., our valued colleague, collaborator, mentor and friend, recently passed away after a long illness. Zhang discovered novel neuroprotective factors and biomarkers of early disease in motor neuron degeneration.

New grant supports Ebola drug discovery
No drugs are yet available to treat deadly Ebola infections. Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., and Anthony Pinkerton, Ph.D., are working to meet that need with the support of a new $4.1 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Chanda and Pinkerton are collaborating with scientists from other institutions.

Welcome to our newest and recently renewed President's Circle Members!

• Alexandria Real Estate Equities
• Amy and Bill Koman

• Carol and George Lattimer

• NuVasive, Inc.
• Oxford Finance

• Charles Patton

• Shereen and Isa Rizk

• Shire Human Genetic Therapies, Inc.

• Sky Foundation, Inc.

• Square 1 Bank

• Gregory and Jonell Tibbitts

La Jolla, California
10901 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
Orlando, Florida
6400 Sanger Road
Orlando, FL  32827