While its roots go back to the founding of the Scripps Metabolic Clinic in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, The Scripps Research Institute's modern beginnings date to the 1946 establishment of Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, when a major portion of the Clinic's limited reserves were committed to the construction of a new research facility and to the recruitment of top biomedical scientists.
In 1961, the institution recruited pioneering immunologist Frank Dixon and four of his colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, researchers who were then contributing insightful observations on the causes and progression of autoimmune disease, to establish a Department of Experimental Pathology in La Jolla.
Their work attracted others and the research program flourished and diversified into biochemistry and microbiology, virology, studies of blood coagulation, and cancer research. From the outset, the guiding philosophy was clinical and basic investigations of the pathogenesis of human disease.
In 1977 the multiple research programs that had developed were formally drawn together into the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, as it had come to be named, and by the mid-1980s laboratory space had grown to some 300,000 square feet. Major programs in cell and molecular biology and synthetic and bioorganic chemistry had developed, in addition to efforts in immunology and clinically oriented investigations. The Department of Neurobiology was established at the Institute in the 1992.
As the faculty roster has grown, so naturally has the focus and number of areas of research. Today, TSRI scientists are actively investigating biological and chemical aspects of more than 40 diseases, including AIDS, alcoholism, allergy, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, dementia, depression, diabetes, genetic diseases, hepatitis, infectious diseases, multiple sclerosis, renal disease, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome, sleep disorders, and diseases involving neural and muscular degeneration.
Among other areas of research that cross specific disease lines are those that involve numerous investigations into the structure and function of proteins; biocatalysis and protein design; the factors, processes and regulation of inflammation; and the form and working of animal and plant cells. All in all, the quality, scope and depth of the science conducted at the Institute enable it to be ranked among the finest scientific research organizations in the world.
In 1991, when Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and Scripps Memorial Hospitals reaffiliated, the Research Institute became a separate corporation under the parent organization, Scripps Institutions of Medicine and Science. With that change its name became The Scripps Research Institute, a name that will likely be associated with some of the greatest biomedical advances of the decades ahead.
In late 2003, The Scripps Research Institute took a dramatic step in announcing the establishment of a major science center in Palm Beach County, Florida, focusing on biomedical research, technology development and drug design. Funding for the new campus and initial staffing is being supported by the State of Florida via economic development funds as well as local government. Months of intensive discussions with Florida Governor Jeb Bush and state and local officials culminated in the large scale agreement between Scripps Research and the State of Florida. The synergy between the faculties and research conducted at both facilities is expected to lead to significant new developments to improve human health.