Renowned Biologist Karla Kirkegaard to Lead Scripps Florida’s Department of Infectious Diseases

Article ID: 615000

Released: 13-Mar-2014 10:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Scripps Research Institute

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of The Scripps Research Institute.

    Karla Kirkegaard, PhD, will join the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute as chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases.

Newswise — JUPITER, FL – March 13, 2014 – Renowned virologist Karla Kirkegaard, PhD, will join the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) as chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases. She joins Scripps Florida from Stanford University School of Medicine, where she is a professor and former chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

"Karla is an exceptional scientist and a leader in her field," said TSRI President and CEO Michael Marletta. "Her research interests, commitment to excellence and pioneering spirit are a wonderful fit for TSRI and Scripps Florida. I am delighted to welcome her both as a faculty colleague and as chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases.”

“For me, joining Scripps Florida is an unprecedented opportunity,” said Kirkegaard. “Both extraordinary faculty and world-class facilities have been assembled in this campus. That many of these great scientists are newly juxtaposed creates an excitement that is palpable and I am thrilled to participate in it.”

Kirkegaard, whose laboratory studies the biochemistry, cell biology and genetics of RNA viral propagation, will join Scripps Florida in the fall.

Kirkegaard earned a BS with honors in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University in the laboratory of James C. Wang. For postdoctoral work, she studied RNA virus replication at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in the laboratory of David Baltimore.

After joining the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder, her laboratory developed new concepts in the biology of RNA viruses, the most changeable viruses that exist. She was honored with several awards, including the Searle Scholar’s Award, a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award and a position with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Nevertheless, because her work became increasingly relevant to medical science, she moved her laboratory to Stanford School of Medicine in 1996.

Recently, Kirkegaard’s laboratory has focused on the mechanisms by which viruses develop and perpetuate drug resistance and how to prevent drug-resistant viruses from destroying the effects of anti-viral therapies. For this work, she became an Ellison Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease and received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see


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