Newswise — La Jolla, Calif., December 12, 2016 (embargoed until 8:00 A.M. PST) — Jerold Chun, M.D., Ph.D., a trailblazer in research on the development and diseases of the brain, is joining the faculty of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) as professor and senior vice president of Neuroscience Drug Discovery.
Chun comes to SBP from The Scripps Research Institute, where he has been a professor since 2003. Chun brings his twenty-five-member lab and an established research program in fundamental neuroscience that has implications for a range of diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and depression.
“I’m very excited to join SBP because of the opportunity to enhance my lab’s work in translational neuroscience,” said Chun. “In addition to joining a group of esteemed faculty, I’m eager to work with SBP’s Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics—one of the most sophisticated high-throughput drug discovery facilities in academia. By working with the Prebys Center, we hope to turn basic discoveries into genuine therapeutics.”
Chun’s groundbreaking studies have made him a leader in the field of genomic mosaicism—differences among the genomes of individual brain cells. His team’s discovery of variation in the number of chromosomes in the normal human adult brain fundamentally changed the understanding of why the brain is so complex and adaptable. This breakthrough paved the way for research into other forms of mosaicism and their contribution to brain diseases.
Earlier in his career, he demonstrated that lysophospholipids (LPs) interact with cells through dedicated receptors, shattering contemporary dogma and opening up a whole new area of research. LP receptors, found throughout the body, have since proven to be promising drug targets for autoimmune diseases, as seen with the multiple sclerosis drug fingolimod (Gilenya). Chun’s lab has also demonstrated their relevance to other neurological disorders such as stroke and hydrocephalus.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jerold Chun to SBP,” says Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president of SBP. “He brings a distinguished academic record and proven ability to lead world-class neuroscience drug discovery efforts to our Institute. We look forward to supporting and working with Dr. Chun on his quest to create innovative solutions for the many unmet needs of patients with neurological disorders.”
Chun completed his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at Stanford University, then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute at MIT under National Medal of Science winner Rudolf Jaenisch and Nobel Prize winner David Baltimore. He has recently been named to the Thomson Reuters World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds list of highly cited researchers, and has received national and international recognition including awards from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund and the March of Dimes.
# # # # About SBP Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) is an independent nonprofit medical research organization that conducts world-class, collaborative, biological research and translates its discoveries for the benefit of patients. SBP focuses its research on cancer, immunity, neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and rare children’s diseases. The Institute invests in talent, technology and partnerships to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries that will have the greatest impact on patients. Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs about 1,100 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at SBPdiscovery.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/SBPdiscovery and on Twitter @SBPdiscovery.