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Meet Our California Scientists Richard A. Houghten
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Richard A. Houghten

Richard HoughtenTorreyPinesInstituteCA TorreyPinesInstituteCA

President
& Founder

858.597.3805 - phone
858.597.3804 - fax
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Richard A. Houghten, is the founder and President of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies. The Institute was founded in 1988, and began its operations in 1989 with eight employees. Now in its 22nd year, it has become 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. 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.

Dr. Houghten received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1975. Following positions at the University of California, San Francisco, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, he joined The Scripps Research Institute in 1981. In addition to Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, he founded three commercial businesses, including one which became a publicly-traded biotechnology company.

His achievements have been recognized in the form of numerous honors and awards. Most recently, his contributions to the field of combinatorial chemistry and peptide science was acknowledged by the Bruce Merrifield Award in 2005. Just one year prior, he was awarded the 2004 Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry by the American Chemical Society. Other honors received include the Vincent du Vigneaud Award for Excellence in Peptide Science (2000) and the UCSD Connect Athena Pinnacle Award for Empowering Women in the Workplace. His acceptance of the Athena Pinnacle Award in 1999 further distinguishes Dr. Houghten and his dedication to the mentoring and advancement of women scientists in the work place.

Dr. Houghten’s scientific contributions include the “tea bag” approach, which was originally utilized to facilitate the synthesis of peptides in 1985. The tea bag method, in which solvent permeable packets are used during the synthesis process, has now resulted in not only the synthesis of millions of peptides, but also the synthesis of millions of low molecular weight compounds.

In collaboration with his long time associates and colleagues at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, he developed approaches in combinatorial chemistry which are invaluable for the rapid identification of individual compounds from millions to billions of others (positional scanning), the use of existing combinatorial libraries to generate entirely new diversities of compounds (libraries from libraries), the cross-referencing of library screening results with gene data bases in order to fine-tune the direction towards which further testing moves for a given disease target (biometrical analysis), and novel volatilizable solid supports. Many of these technologies have resulted in “leads”, which are today undergoing further testing and analysis in pharmaceutical companies.

Education

  • 1968:  California State University at Fresno, B.S., Chemistry
  • 1970:  University of California at Berkeley, M.S., Organic Chemistry
  • 1975:  University of California at Berkeley, Ph.D., Organic Chemistry

Positions

  • 1975-1978:  National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hormone Research Laboratory, University of California at San Francisco.
  • 1978-1979:  Research Associate at the Hormone Research Laboratory, University of California at San Francisco
  • 1979-1981:  Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, City University of New York, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.
  • 1981-1986:  Assistant Member, Department of Molecular Biology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA.
  • 1981-1989:  Associate Member, Department of Molecular Biology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA.
  • 1981-1989:  Founder, President and CEO, Multiple Peptide Systems, Inc., San Diego, CA.
  • 1998-2001:  Chief Financial Officer, Spyder Instruments, Inc., San Diego, CA.
  • 1990-1993:  Founder, President, and CEO, Trega Biosciences, Inc. (formerly Houghten Pharmaceuticals) San Diego, CA.
  • 1993-1997:  Chief Technical Officer, Trega Biosciences, Inc., San Diego, CA.
  • 1999-present: Scientific Director, Multiple Peptide Systems, Inc., San Diego, CA.
  • June 2004-present:  Adjunct Professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
  • 1988-present:  Founder and President, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, San Diego, CA and Port St. Lucie, FL.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Peptide Society
    • Council Member, 1995 - present
    • Secretary, 1997-1999
    • Co-Chairman, 17th American Peptide Symposium 2001
    • Treasurer, 1999 - present
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence
  • New York Academy of Sciences
  • Society for Biomolecular Screening
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • The Protein Society

Honors & Awards

  • 1996:     San Diego Distinguished Scientist Award, American Chemical Society
  • 1997:     Advanced Chemtech Combinatorial Library Science Award, Fifth International Symposium on Solid Phase Synthesis & Combinatorial Libraries, London
  • 1997:     Alumni Award of Excellence, School of Natural Sciences, California State University, Fresno
  • 1998:     Association for Laboratory Automation Hewlett Packard Award for Outstanding Research in         Integrated Analytical Systems
  • 1998:     TNO Pharma Award for Outstanding Strategic Research in Combinatorial Technologies
  • 1999:     UCSD Connect Athena Individual Pinnacle Award for Empowering Women in the Workplace
  • 2000:     Vincent du Vigneaud Award for Excellence in Peptide Science
  • 2003:     Entrepreneur in Residence, California State University, Fresno
  • 2004:     Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry (American Chemical Society)
  • 2005:     Kuang-piu Chair Professorship of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
  • 2005:     Distinguished Alumni Award, California State University, Fresno
  • 2005:     R. Bruce Merrifield Award (American Peptide Society)

Selected Publications (10 of 531)

  1. Dean, EJ, Ward, T, Pinilla, C, Houghten, R, Welsh, K, Makin, G, Ranson, M, Dive, C. A small molecule inhibitor of XIAP induces Apoptosis and Synergizes with Vinorelbine and Cisplatin in NSCLC. Br J Cancer. 102(1):97-103, 2010.
  2. Armishaw, CJ, Singh, N, Medina-Franco, JL, Clark, RJ, Scott, KCM, Houghten, RA, Jensen, AA. A synthetic combinatorial strategy for developing α-conotoxin analogs as potent α7 nictotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonists. J Biol Chem. 285(3):1809-21, 2010.
  3. Yongye, AB, Li, Y, Giulianotti, MA, Yu, Y, Houghten, RA, Martínez-Mayorga, K. Modeling of Peptides Containing D-Amino Acids: Implications on Cyclization. J Comput Aided Mol Des. 23(9):677-89, 2009.
  4. Li, Y, Yongye, BA, Giulianotti, MA, Martínez-Mayorga, K, Yu, Y, Houghten, RA. Synthesis of Cyclic Peptide through Direct Aminolysis of a Peptide Thioester in an Aqueous Organic Solvent. J Comb Chem. Epub Oct 6, 2009.
  5. Li, Y, Giulianotti, M, Houghten, RA. Solid phase synthesis of 2-alkylidene-6-alkyl-imidazo [2, 1-b] thiazole- 3, 5[2H, 6H]-dione derivatives. Tetrahedron Letters. 50(42):5857-9, 2009.
  6. Nefzi, A, Appel, J, Arutyunyan, S, Houghten, RA. Parallel synthesis of chiral pentaamines and pyrrolidine containing bis-heterocyclic libraries. Multiple scaffolds with multiple building blocks: A double diversity for the identification of new antitubercular compounds. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 19(17):5169-75, 2009.
  7. Kowalska, D., Liu, J., Appel, J.R., Ozawa, A., Nefzi, A., Mackin, R.B., Houghten, R.A., Lindberg, I. Synthetic small-molecule prohormone convertase 2 inhibitors. Mol. Pharmacol. 75(3):617-25, 2009.
  8. Li, Y., Yu, Y., Giulianotti, M., Houghten, R.A. One-Pot High-Throughput Synthesis of beta-Turn Cyclic Peptidomimetics via "Volatilizable" Supports. J. Org. Chem. Epub Jan 27, 2009. [Epub ahead of print.]
  9. Medina-Franco, J.L., Martínez-Mayorga, K., Bender, A., Marín, R.M., Giulianotti, M.A., Pinilla, C., Houghten, R.A. Characterization of Activity Landscapes Using 2D and 3D Similarity Methods: Consensus Activity Cliffs. J. Chem. Inf. Model. 49:477-91, 2009.
  10. Nagasaki, H., Chung, S., Dooley, C.T., Wang, Z., Li, C., Saito, Y., Clark, S.D., Houghten, R.A., Civelli, O. The pharmacological properties of a novel MCH(1) receptor antagonist isolated from combinatorial libraries. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 602(2-3):194-202, 2009 Epub Nov 17, 2008.

Patents (5 of 67)

1,3,5-Trisubstituted-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-,6-trione compounds and libraries. U.S. Patent No. 6,861,523. Issued March 1, 2005.  Inventors:  Yu, Y., Ostresh, J.M., Houghten, R.A.


Diketoazacyclic compounds, diazacyclic compounds, and combinatorial libraries thereof. U.S. Patent No. 6,809,202. Issued October 26, 2004.  Inventors:  Nefzi, A., Ostresh, J.M., Houghten, R.A.
Synthesis of [3,5,7]-1H-imidazo[1,5-a]imidazol-2(3H)-one compounds. U.S. Patent No. 6,664,282. Issued December 16, 2003.   Inventors:  El Abdellaoui, H.M., Ostresh, J.M., Houghten, R.A. Synthesis of [3,5,7]-1H-imidazo[1,5-a]imidazol-2(3H)-one compounds. U.S. Patent No. 6,545,032. Issued April 8, 2003.  Inventors:  El Abdellaoui, H.M., Ostresh, J.M., Houghten, R.A.
Volatilizable solid supports for compound synthesis. U.S. Patent No. 6,476,191. Issued November 5, 2002.  Inventors:  Pascal, J.H., Moran, M.J., Houghten, R.A. Diketoazacyclic compounds, diazacyclic compounds, and combinatorial libraries thereof. U.S. Patent No. 6,441,172. Issued August 27, 2002.  Inventors:  Nefzi, A., Ostresh, J.M., Houghten, R.A. Dialkyl ureas as calcitonin mimetics. U.S. Patent No. 6,391,917. Issued May 21, 2002.  Inventors:  Petrie, C.R., McKernan, P.A., Moore, E.E., Ostresh, J.M., Meyer, J.-P., Houghten, R.A., Pinilla, C. Combinatorial libraries of bicyclic guanidine derivatives and compounds therein. U.S. Patent No. 6,359,144. Issued March 19, 2002.  Inventors:  Ostresh, J.M., Meyer, J.-P., Dooley, C.T., Blondelle, S.E., Schoner, C.C., Houghten, R.A. Melanocortin receptor ligands and methods of using same. U.S. Patent No. 6,350,430. Issued February 26, 2002.  Inventors:  Dooley, C.T., Girten, B.E., Houghten, R.A.
Dimeric oligopeptide mixture sets. U.S. Patent No. 6,287,787. Issued September 11, 2001.  Inventors:  Houghten, R.A., Pinilla, C. Dialkyl ureas as calcitonin mimetics. U.S. Patent No. 6,255,351. Issued July 3, 2001.  Inventors:  Petrie, C.R., McKernan, P.A., Moore, E.E., Ostresh, J.M., Meyer, J.-P., Houghten, R.A., Pinilla, C. N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor channel blockers and method for identifying such. U.S. Patent No. 6,251,854. Issued June 26, 2001.  Inventors:  Montal, M., Ferrer-Montiel, A., Merino, J., Blondelle, S.E., Houghten, R.A. Cytokine restraining agents. U.S. Patent No. 6,245,738. Issued June 12, 2001.  Inventors:  Suto, M.J., Girten, B.E., Houghten, R.A., Loullis, C.C., Tuttle, R.R. Dialkyl ureas as calcitonin mimetics. U.S. Patent No. 6,221,913. Issued April 24, 2001.  Inventors:  Petrie, C.R., McKernan, P.A., Moore, E.E., Ostresh, J.M., Meyer, J.-P., Houghten, R.A., Pinilla, C. Linear substituted oligoalkyleneimine libraries. U.S. Patent No. 6,197,529. Issued March 6, 2001.  Inventors:  Houghten, R.A., Cuervo, J.H., Weitl, F.F.