Inside Salk; Salk Insitute

Executive Message

William Brody

William R. Brody

One hundred years ago, on October 28, a child was born in New York City. Bright and precocious, he rose from humble origins to enter college at age 15, and then enrolled in medical school. But along the way, he decided he’d rather help humankind more broadly and opted to become a medical researcher instead of a physician. By 1955, he had achieved his goal, discovering the polio vaccine and changing the course of history. Jonas Salk–for of course that’s who I’m talking about–had defeated a disease that had struck dread into the hearts of people worldwide for over a century.

At that point, Salk could easily have rested on his laurels. But upon receiving the Congressional Medal for Distinguished Civilian Achievement in 1956, he said, “I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” And do more he did: in 1960, he established the research institute that bears his name.

The current issue of Inside Salk celebrates the centenary of Jonas Salk’s birth and his extraordinary legacy as a scientist and a visionary. Although he died nearly two decades ago, his spirit remains vibrant here at the Salk Institute, where his commitment to breaking down barriers of all kinds is deeply embedded in our culture. The feature article is as much a reflection of Salk and his values as they are of the remarkable men and women whose careers and discoveries have been fostered at the “temple of science” he founded.

In addition to our cover story on Salk’s legacy at the Institute, the August 2014 issue introduces one of our newest faculty members, Nicola Allen, as well as a rising young star, postdoctoral researcher Amy Firth. We mark some milestones for our faculty, including the 65th birthdays of two accomplished scientists, plus promotions, awards and special events. Jonas Salk was deeply committed to nurturing future generations of scientists, which makes it especially apt that we are highlighting two brand new initiatives of our Education Outreach program. And our Discovery Roundup section features several recent findings by our faculty that have generated new insights in fields ranging from circadian rhythms to schizophrenia, from lung disease to memory storage, and from cancer to motor circuitry.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading our retrospective on Salk and the latest news issuing from his creation. It is both an honor and a responsibility to steward his vision–a role that all of us at the Salk Institute enthusiastically embrace. As a friend and supporter of the Institute, you too share in Jonas Salk’s vision and the scientific successes that vision has made possible. We are all most grateful.