Vision and Challenge
The Salk Institute was established to explore questions about the basic principles of life, with the goal of providing a collaborative environment that encouraged researchers to consider the wider implications of their discoveries for the future of humanity. We believe that we are at the cusp of a revolution in understanding the fine details of chronic disease and defining a new approach, a genomic approach, to its treatment. A common conviction that inflammation might be the underlying cause of many chronic diseases brought together a group of scientists with overlapping interests to tackle this problem. These researchers come from different disciplines and have different areas of expertise and different ways of looking at the problem, but they all realized that if they pooled their intellectual resources, they could collectively dissect the molecular underpinnings of this tough biological problem. It has become apparent that common genetic and metabolic pathways operate in disparate diseases such as cancer, neurological diseases and diabetes. For example, the dedifferentiation and reprogramming principles that are used to generate pluripotent stem cells are the hallmarks of many deadly cancers. To deconstruct these common genetic and metabolic pathways, Salk scientists have to identify genes, perform genetic analysis, decode the genomic changes, and unravel the epigenome, proteome and metabolome.