His over 200 scientific publications include the discovery of cortistatin, a sleep-promoting neuropeptide, and hypocretin (also known as orexin), a wake-promoting hypothalamic peptide that is part of a circuit that integrates aspects of energy metabolism, cardiovascular function, hormone homeostasis, motivation and sleep/wake behaviors. The human sleep disorder narcolepsy results from insufficiencies in the hypocretin signaling system. For the latter discovery, Dr. Sutcliffe was awarded the Jacobaeus Prize for endocrinology. In addition to extensive NIH study section and editorial board service, Dr. Sutcliffe has been honored as a Tarbox Distinguished Neuroscientist Awardee, a Society for Neuroscience Grass Traveling Lecturer, and a Burroughs Wellcome Visiting Professor.
Dr. Sutcliffe received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where his studies on the development of high-throughput DNA sequencing were conducted in the laboratory of professors Walter Gilbert (advisor) and James D. Watson, both Nobel laureates. He joined The Scripps Research Institute in 1978 as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Richard Lerner, and with Lerner determined the sequence the first retrovirus genome and developed the technique of raising antibodies against synthetic peptides to generate reagents that would detect proteins known only from their gene sequences and the first synthetic vaccines. He is a presently Professor Emeritus.