September 7, 2018
Richard A. Houghten, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, was inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. 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. He founded Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in 1988, beginning operations in 1989. Over the past 30 years, he has focused his scientific efforts toward the development and use of a series of interlocking and powerful “hit/probe/lead” discovery platform techniques (parallel synthesis techniques and combinatorial chemistry). He holds over 485 peer-reviewed publications and 81 issued US patents.
Dr. Houghten’s strengths are in the invention and development of novel and wide ranging approaches for the application to existing drug discovery problems. In collaboration with long term associates at Torrey Pines, he has developed technologies with the capability to rapidly synthesize and screen millions of compounds. He has founded three companies from his scientific discoveries. The first was a for profit research products company, Multiple Peptide Systems (MPS). The financial success of MPS enabled him to found the not for profit TPIMS. Dr. Houghten has developed combinatorial techniques that permit 10s of millions of compounds to be searched while requiring the screening of only 300-500 samples. These techniques can be used in virtually all existing bench top assays. Internal use of these techniques resulted in the identification of extra-ordinarily active and specific kappa opiate receptor tetra-peptides which were licensed to CARA Therapeutics and will be entering Phase III trials for peripheral pain management; these compounds have none of the side effects of the opiates such as morphine.
Dr. Houghten has been recognized for his contributions to the field of combinatorial chemistry and peptide science with the American Peptide Society's Vincent Du Vigneaud Award in 2000 and Bruce Merrifield Award in 2005; the American Chemical Society's 2004 Ralph Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry. He is a National Academy of Inventors Charter Fellow 2013, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow 2013, Florida's Department Health's Biomedical Research Advisory Council Senate President's Appointee and 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.