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Salk Appoints Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Guillemin as Interim President

The Salk Board of Trustees voted to appoint Nobel laureate and distinguished professor Dr. Roger Guillemin as Interim President. Guillemin officially took office in September and will remain in this capacity during the Institute's ongoing search for a president.

"Roger's distinguished reputation as a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and his 37 year history with the Salk makes him ideal to lead the Institute's scientific community at this time," said Irwin Jacobs, chair of the Salk's Board of Trustees. "His pioneering contributions to science are a reflection of the Institute's excellence in research and discovery."

Guillemin received the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 1977 for discoveries that laid the foundation for brain hormone research. His work and that of his group brought to light an entire new class of substances shown to be important for the regulation of growth, development, reproduction and responses to stress.

Research laboratories and pharmaceutical industry have produced many synthetic analogs of these brain hormones. Analogs of somatostatin are used to treat several types of tumors and are the primary medical treatment of the pituitary adenomas leading to acromegaly. Analogs of another hormone (GnRH) are used in problems of infertility and tumors of the prostate.

Guillemin also was among the first to isolate endorphins, brain molecules known to act as natural opiates. Following the isolation of endorphins, his work with cellular growth factors (FGFs), in addition to inhibins and activins, led to the recognition of multiple physiological functions and developmental mechanisms.

Born in France, Guillemin graduated from Lyon's medical school in 1949 before studying endocrinology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, where he received his doctorate degree in 1953. Guillemin continued his work at Baylor College School of Medicine for 17 years before joining the Salk Institute in 1970.

His many honors include: Election in 1974 to membership in the National Academy of Sciences; 1974 Gairdner International Award; 1975 Lasker Award in Basic Sciences; election in 1976 into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; 1976 Dickson Prize in Medicine; 1976 Passano Award in Medical Sciences; 1976 National Medal of Science (USA).