Photo: Organic Chemistry Ph.D. Alum and Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies founder Richard Houghten.
At this year's induction ceremony for the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies founder Richard Houghten and optometry pioneer Herbert Wertheim — two individuals of unquestionable genius — shared a surprising fact about themselves: Growing up, they each struggled with severe learning challenges that easily could have sent them on a different path.
Houghten, who holds 81 U.S. patents for his pioneering work in molecular pharmaceutical research, told of not being able to read until he was 10 years old. As the son and grandson of accomplished scientists, his academic struggles couldn't have been easy. "Being ADHD, I have a hard time getting things into my head, but once they are in there — they are in there," he told the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame gala crowd.
Yet, Houghten earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and founded the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in 1988. The institute is now internationally recognized for its scientific contributions in fields ranging from multiple sclerosis to diabetes to infectious disease and pain management.