Inside Salk; Salk Insitute

Executive Message

William R. Brody

William R. Brody

Here at the Salk Institute, I'm reminded daily what an extraordinary place this is. It’s not just our groundbreaking discoveries, although those continue to make headlines around the world. It’s also our iconic Louis Kahn buildings, which have helped create an environment that nurtures collaboration and innovation. Factor in some of the world’s most gifted researchers and you have a formula for brilliant science.

This issue of Inside Salk celebrates both the marvelous discoveries that Salk investigators have made in recent months and the campus that has made them possible. Our cover story on neuroscience reveals why we’ve been renowned in this field for many years. (I share more of my thoughts on this subject in my Insider’s View column.) We also have two articles about the architecture that has helped make us who we are–one on Robert Redford’s recent film about the Salk buildings and a one-on-one interview with Mr. Redford, which I was privileged to conduct. The film officially debuted in the United States in October, but special friends of the Institute were able to attend a preview in June, with Mr. Redford in attendance. It’s a measure of the impact of Louis Kahn’s design that the film was the only one in the Cathedrals of Culture series to focus on American architecture.

The research taking place in those buildings has yielded some especially significant findings in the last few months. Kuo-Fen Lee’s group has found a small molecule that may be able to induce damaged nerves to grow and rewire neural circuits. A team led by Ye Zheng has discovered a key control mechanism with implications for autoimmune diseases and some types of cancer, and scientists in Reuben Shaw’s lab have identified a gene responsible for stopping the movement of cancer from the lungs to other parts of the body. Ronald Evans and his team have found a protein that may lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes. And a multi-site collaboration co-led by Joseph Ecker has demonstrated differences between stem cells depending on how they were created, a finding that could improve approaches for developing stem cell therapies and lead to a better understanding of stem cell biology.

On a very sad note, we lost one of our leading scientists when Stephen Heinemann died on August 6 after a long, illustrious career. We pay tribute to him in this issue.

As always, it is friends like you who help us sustain our momentum. All of us at the Institute are extremely grateful for your confidence in our work.