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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

New Antibiotics
Jeffrey Stein, Ph.D. (Scripps) '91

Have you founded a company? Worked at a company started by a UCSD alum? We want to know.†
Drop us a note

Many consider the discovery of penicillin the single greatest medical achievement of all time. Subsequent to its discovery in 1928, penicillin and other antibiotics have significantly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. But as antibiotic resistance grows, it is imperative that new drugs are found.

Enter Jeffrey Stein, Ph.D. (Scripps) '91, president and CEO of Trius Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of innovative antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections. Trius is currently collaborating with
William Fenical and his science team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, to discover new antibiotics from marine microorganisms.

"The recent discovery by the Fenical laboratory of a new group of marine actinomycetales, and the demonstration that they produce structurally unique antibiotic molecules, provides an exciting opportunity to develop effective new
drugs," says Stein.

While Stein was doing his Ph.D. at Scripps, he was a virtual entrepreneur within the laboratory of his adviser, marine biologist Horst Felbeck. He sought and obtained his own funding for research that was outside the mainstream.

"I was allowed free rein and Horst was enormously supportive, even when my research strayed well outside the boundaries of what was being pursued by the rest of the Felbeck laboratory," Stein says. "I doubt that I could have thrived in a more structured environment."

But thrive he did. After postdoctoral research at Caltech and biotech positions at the Agouron Institute and Diversa Corporation, he launched his first biotech company, Quorex Pharmaceuticals in 1999. At Trius, Stein is now patiently waiting to experience the joy of moving a research project from the bench to the marketplace. The collaboration between Trius and the Fenical lab is funded by the federal Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), committed to investing in basic research. As of November 2010, Trius had 45 employees and a market cap of $75.37 million.

The lead program at Trius has now entered phase three clinical development where it is being tested in hundreds of patients with severe bacterial infections.

óWendy Hunter Barker