Inside Salk; Salk Institute

Executive Message

William Brody

William R. Brody

With the holidays almost upon us, it is a time of wonderful celebrations and opportunities to reflect. With all the life-changing work and growth at the Salk, I am happy to share with you exciting updates t hat have occurred over the last several months. One of the leading pieces of good news is that the SCImago Institutions Rankings World Report has identified the Salk Institute as one of the top five research organizations in the world, based on excellence and the high quality of our scientific findings.

Reading through Inside Salk, you will get a great feel for this year's Symphony at Salk: A Concert under the Stars. This was our 16th year of the event, and it was as spectacular as ever, with the extraordinary talent of Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, returning guest conductor Thomas Wilkins, and the San Diego Symphony. Over 700 people attended the event, and if you were not able to join us, I encourage you to plan on it for next year.

The Salk Institute has many things to be proud of, but we all agree that when it comes to our faculty, we are second to none. It gives me great pleasure to let you know about six promotions this year: Leanne Jones and Satchidananda Panda have been promoted to associate professor, and E.J. Chichilnisky, Andrew Dillin, Martin Hetzer and Jan Karlseder to full professor. Each of these stellar scientists underwent an extensive review process led by Salk senior faculty, non-resident fellows and scientific leaders in their respective fields.

A few other exciting highlights since our last issue include a $5.5 million grant from the NIH to study Williams syndrome, headed by Ursula Bellugi; two new endowed chairs paying tribute to Renato Dulbecco and Roger Guillemin, both former Salk presidents and Nobel Prize winners; and Joanne Chory's election to the Royal Society (read the "One on One" article about Joanne inside). In addition, the San Diego Unified School District honored Salk's Education and Outreach Program with a 20-year Partner in Education Award; Joseph Ecker has been appointed an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; and Fred "Rusty" Gage was recognized with several honors on two continents: Spain's Cátedra Santiago Grisolía Award 2011, an honorary doctorate in medicine from Lund University in Sweden and appointment as president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR). He is also the 2011 recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director's Transformative Research Project Program. Axel Nimmerjahn, assistant professor in the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center and holder of the Richard Allan Barry Developmental Chair, has been named a 2011 Rita Allen Scholar and is a recent recipient of a highly selective grant from the Whitehall Foundation; the National Institutes of Health announced that the Salk Institute will receive $4.5 million to establish a Neuroscience Core Center, and Dennis O'Leary, the Vincent J. Coates Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at Salk, will serve as director of the new center. The Ipsen Life Sciences Program has been renewed as part of an agreement between Ipsen and the Salk, and Inder M. Verma has recently been appointed editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official NAS journal.

In addition to the many accolades, awards and grants you will read about in the following pages, nearly a dozen papers have been published in leading journals and publications worldwide, based on the work and collaborations of Salk scientists.

While you are enjoying your holidays and spending time with family, remember that your Salk family is pursuing some of the most challenging scientific questions and needed discoveries that will enhance and impact the human condition. That is our gift to you.