Scintillon Aging Research Center
Understanding and Treating Aging through New Research
Established in 2019 and growing to enhance human life
Jiwu Wang, Iustin Tabarean, Yun Yung, Rajesh Ambasudhan, Jeff Price, John Nolan, Joel. Buxbaum, Irene Pedersen, Albert Chen, Nobuki Nakanishi, Valentin Cracan, Stuart Lipton, Gabrielle Sulli, Robert Beardall
How does aging affect all of us later in life?
What are common problems we face as we age?
How do we deal with these problems?
How can we live longer, healthier lives using the recent advances in science?
These are the questions that drive the mission of the Center for Aging Studies at Scintillon Institute, questions that we aim to answer through our one-of-a-kind research program. We study what the brain, blood, heart, and immune system go through as we get older. Scientists at Scintillon have developed some of the most widely used tools in the world for visualizing and measuring organs, tracing tiny moving parts that travel across organs and cells to pass aging messages. These tools create the opportunity to turn this research into manufacturing newer and better cells to restore cognitive abilities, kill cancers, and lower the presence of destructive molecules that mess up balance and metabolism. We can analyze the body’s normal functions to point out reasons why some people experience mental dysfunction. Our experiments look at the differences between young and healthy cells and compare their components to the aged and diseased ones.
Scintillon Professor Rajesh Ambasudhan, together with Professor Stuart Lipton, who has joint appointment with Scripps and UCSD, has just begun a multi-organizational research project to find the best cure to treat Parkinson’s disease and potentially other age-related central and motor neuron function losses. This major endeavor is being funded by one of the top funds on Wall Street in multi-million dollars spanning several years. The execution of their research plan will utilize an academic-industry collaboration with the scientists and clinical product manufacturing team at Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, Inc., lead by Dr. Jiwu Wang, who is also on the leadership and faculty at Scintillon. This treatment could be the most advanced in the world to combine stem cell-based therapy with gene therapy and will be produced under the FDA’s cGMP guidelines in Allele’s clean-room facilities that reside together with Scintillon Institute labs.
Recruitment – Scintillon has made waves in the research institution sector with its unique recruitment of highly talented, dedicated researchers under the new Center for Aging Research to build the world-leading establishment that will continue to attract researchers looking to excel under Scintillon’s innovative model and culture. Scintillon faculty have earned numerous research grants from the US National Institutes of Health. Philanthropy donations accelerate our approach to the goal and will result in more funding for projects like the one funded by Deerfield for Parkinson’s treatment.
Major donation – The time is now. It is a crucial time and a rare opportunity to make a difference. Scintillon donors can help by extending the Institute’s reach to recruit a senior researcher to lead the aging research center and build awareness on behalf of the donor of the importance of our work.
Many of the brightest researchers have the deep conviction that an academic career is what they have been trained for and is worth every effort in its pursuit. In reality, however, the road towards an assistant professorship can be long and filled with obstacles. Typically, a university would like faculty candidates that already have independent research grants or strong proof that they will sometime soon. At the same time, without a tenure-track Assistant Professor title, the postdoc or project scientist can find it close to impossible to apply for grants such as an R01 from the NIH.
To deal with this dilemma, the hiring institute often takes a risk by offering a sizable startup package to new faculty members so they can conduct research long enough to obtain grant funding. To mitigate this risk, the recruitment committee and department chairs tend to select candidates based on a set of traditional “fundable” attributes, briefly: 1) with first-authored papers in Cell, Nature, or Science; 2) from a exceptionally respected lab (preferably Nobel Prize winners, academy members, or HHMI investigators) with genuinely strong advocacy by the PI; 3) being a good communicator who talks like a successful academic. If, unfortunately, substantial grants are not obtained within the first few years, the assistant professor will lose their job and the institute will lose their investment.
Scintillon Institute believes in the power of these innovative mind to transform real world problems into industry leading solutions. To provide a better opportunity, particularly for those up-and-coming researchers who do not yet possess all of the attributes listed above but who are truly dedicated to basic research and development with unusual talents and patience, we offer a chance through the Scintillon Assistant Professor Entry Program.
After passing a personalized screening process, Scintillon Institute will provide accepted candidates with the title of Assistant Professor with full authorization to write independent research grants, such as R01 and R21. More importantly, our highly experienced and distinguished faculty will do hands-on coaching in grant writing and application packaging. Collaborative grants or center grants may also be developed jointly, if appropriate.
Scintillon Institute is a private non-profit institute built by researchers with a big vision to apply basic research to solve real world problems with an emphasis on technology advancement. We have a one-of-a-kind culture that nurtures young talent and helps researchers grow together.
Successful SAPEP participants are expected to secure career-establishing grants, by which time Scintillon will provide institutional support and guidance. As the assistant professors develop through the strong collaborations with senior faculty and industry connections and by experiencing firsthand how a lab is run, the Institute will promote them through the ranks internally and help build their reputation to outside associations and foundations and build their own spinoff biotech companies. If the new faculty, after spending two thirds of their first major grant at Scintillon, decide to try a different academic environment, such as a university, public, or government institution, Scintillon will assist in the transition, helping the promising careers that start here to continue to be fruitful.
Please email your letter of interest, research details, and CV to [email protected] if you are interested in being considered for the SAPEP program.
SCINTILLON INSTITUTE gratefully acknowledges major support for this program from:
01 August 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Scintillon team to play key role in center for creating bioluminescent neuroscience tools
San Diego, CA
In a new collaboration, scientists will advance and freely circulate a research technology that makes brain cells able to produce, respond to, and communicate with light.
Nathan Shaner, Ph.D. will lead Scintillon Institute’s contribution to a national center dedicated to developing and disseminating new tools based on bioluminescence. The five-year grant from the National Science Foundation aims to develop tools to give nervous system cells the ability to make and respond to light. Neuroscientists can use these tools to manipulate and observe the circuitry of the brain in a variety of model organisms.
“NeuroNex Technology Hub” is a new collaboration of labs at Brown University, Central Michigan University and the Scintillon Institute. The team will improve upon and combine several unique bioengineering technologies to create new research capabilities, rooted in bioluminescence-the natural ability of cells to make light. They will then make their advances rapidly, easily, and freely available to the global scientific community.
Shaner joins co-principal investigators Diane Lipscombe, Brown professor of neuroscience and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, and Ute Hochgeschwender, professor at CMU, on a team led by Christopher Moore, a professor of neuroscience at Brown. Justine Allen, a Brown neuroscience PhD alumna, will be the center’s administrative director.
Creating a curriculum, which combines elements of biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, to engage and educate high school students will be a key facet of the center’s mission.
“The highly visual nature of this research is a great way to get young people interested in science,” said Shaner. “Being able to see living neurons lighting up as they fire under a microscope can be a transformative experience for them.”Read more