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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.
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.