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Salk recruits two outstanding scientists

Building on its international reputation as a home to world-class faculty, the Salk Institute announced the appointment of two new assistant professors, each of whom brings impressive credentials to their areas of expertise.

Julie Law

Julie Law

Julie Law, assistant professor in the Plant Biology Laboratory, is interested in understanding how epigenetic modifications are recognized by the cell and translated into stable expression states. To this end, Law focuses on the characterization of several newly identified families of chromatin-binding proteins. By employing genetic, biochemical and genomics approaches, she seeks to determine the epigenetic modifications recognized by these protein families, identify their interacting partners and determine their effects on gene expression and higher-order chromatin structure, providing a holistic view of how epigenetic modifications control gene expression. Law's studies will help expand current knowledge of epigenetic gene regulation and increase scientists' ability to understand and control the expression of existing and newly introduced genes—research that has broad implications in both agriculture and gene therapy.

Law received a B.S. in biochemistry and biophysics from Oregon State University and attended graduate school at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. She most recently conducted postdoctoral research that explores the mechanism through which small RNAs target DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Janelle S. Ayres

Janelle S. Ayres

Janelle S. Ayres, assistant professor in the Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, will focus on understanding the defense strategies that enable a host to survive and even thrive when interacting with microbes. Ayres provided some of the first evidence that tolerance is crucial for defense against infections in animals. Using fruit flies infected with lethal bacteria, she identified genes and environmental factors, such as diet, that are important in order to tolerate and, ultimately, survive infections. She also demonstrated that a single gene could influence both resistance and tolerance so that conditions that enhance tolerance against one type of infection also can influence resistance against a different pathogen. Her work will advance knowledge of these defense mechanisms and could lead to new therapeutic approaches for treating infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Ayres earned her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, in molecular and cell biology and received a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Stanford University. Most recently, she has conducted postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley that explores how certain symbiotic relationships in mammals contribute to health and disease.