Inside Salk; Salk Insitute

Executive Message

William R. Brody

Star performers on stage or screen may receive the applause, but no complex production comes to fruition without an extensive team of skilled individuals working behind the spotlight. So it is with science.

While notable discoveries in Salk laboratories make headlines, enabling these achievements is the provenance of our scientific core facilities. We like to call them "idea factories" because they provide the cutting-edge technology and expertise that allow our scientists to perform the novel experiments they envision. In this issue they're getting a well-deserved turn in the spotlight.

Also receiving recognition are three Salk faculty members who have been awarded chairs. John Reynolds is the inaugural holder of the Fiona and Sanjay Jha Chair in Neuroscience. Ursula Bellugi will hold another new chair, the Salk Founders' Chair. And Alan Saghatelian has been named holder of the Dr. Frederik Paulsen Chair.

Discoveries at the Institute continue to pour forth at an impressive pace. Sam Pfaff and his team have developed a technique that lets researchers watch—for the first time—motor neuron activity in the spinal cord. Terrence Sejnowski's group has linked a particular receptor in the mouse brain to aberrant behavior. Research with cellular proteins in Martin Hetzer's lab is revealing how age affects organs in strikingly different ways. And Björn Lillemeier and his team are uncovering ways to harness the immune system.

Other notable findings at the Institute are advancing our understanding of cancer. Geoffrey Wahl's lab identified a key molecular mechanism underlying deadly behavior in some breast cancers. A group led by Jan Karlseder showed how disabling a chromosome's telomeres could aid chemotherapy. Reuben Shaw's team, in collaboration with scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, developed a drug that blocks cancerous cells from obtaining nutrients. And novel research in Clodagh O'Shea's lab is paving the way for cancer-selective viral therapies.

Critical to all these accomplishments are Salk's loyal donors and we take pleasure in honoring them in this issue in our annual Donor Honor Roll. Much like the go-to experts in our core facilities, donors are part of the team behind the scenes who make revolutionary science possible.

This is my last message as President of the Salk Institute, as I will be stepping down at the end of December. It has been my privilege to work among such prodigious talent. Salk is in good shape and in good hands, and the future looks bright indeed. I wish you all well.

William R. Brody, MD, PhD
President, Salk Institute
Irwin M. Jacobs Presidential Chair