During the early 1980's, Richard A. Houghten, a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, made a series of breakthrough discoveries related to peptides, peptide synthesis, and a technology for using these and other compounds as alternative means for drug discovery. Convinced that an intensely focused team of researchers was the most effective and pragmatic route to further study these discoveries, Dr. Houghten decided to form an independent research institute. In 1988, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies was founded, and in 1989 the Institute began its research activities.
Dr. Houghten immediately recruited a talented and dedicated team of researchers, many of whom worked with Dr. Houghten on those early research endeavors at The Scripps Research Institute. Research staff included both senior investigators as well as promising young scientists just beginning their careers.
Early on, the leadership focused on discovery through team building and creating an entrepreneurial spirit. Exhilarated by the possibilities that their new methods revealed, they hoped to create a small, agile research institute focused on quickly producing results. By 1990, less than one year after beginning its operations, scientists at Torrey Pines Institute had developed a method for synthesizing and screening combinatorial libraries of tens of millions of peptides and other non-peptide compounds. As a result of this early innovative research, the Institute quickly became known as a leading research center in the fields of combinatorial chemistry and drug discovery.
During its first ten years, the Institute's focus on methods of drug discovery led to an increasing breadth of collaborative research endeavors. This in turn resulted in an expansion of Torrey Pines Institute's research focus, including the successful recruitment of senior scientists in those fields. With the establishment of its new division, the Multiple Sclerosis National Research Institute, the Institute's reputation as a world leader in multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disease research became solidified.
Now in its 22nd year, Torrey Pines Institute is internationally recognized for its scientific contributions in a wide range of fields, including chemistry, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, immunology, infectious disease, heart disease, cancer vaccines and pain management, among others. The Institute has grown to include over 150 scientists, technicians and administrative staff, all of whom work in an environment that emphasizes personal and professional growth by encouraging the development of independent research ideas as well as the development of collaborative efforts with scientists throughout the world.
In 2006, Torrey Pines Institute embarked on an expansion into the State of Florida. This endeavor was made possible through the support of the State, the City of Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County, the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, Tradition Development, LLC (Core Communities) and Florida Atlantic University. The Institute's headquarters in Florida is a 107,000 square foot, green-certified facility in the Florida Center for Innovation at Tradition in Port St. Lucie.