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Salk celebrates Irwin Jacobs's 80th birthday

Symphony at Salk

Irwin and Joan Jacobs

On the evening of October 14, soem 140 people gathered in the Salk courtyard to celebrate the 80th birthday of board chairman Irwin M. Jacobs and recognize his many accomplishments. Those attending included personal friends of Jacobs and his wife, Joan, as well as Salk faculty, donors, trustees and local business leaders.

The celebration capped a daylong symposium in Jacobs's honor, titled "Unraveling Biological Complexity: Transforming Research through Innovation, Leadership and Philanthropy." Some of the Institute's most distinguished researchers spoke about discoveries from their labs, including Joseph Ecker, Inder Verma, Fred Gage, Joanne Chory, Ronald Evans, Thomas Albright, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte and Terrence Sejnowski. The symposium concluded with a keynote lecture by MIT professor Robert Langer, one of the world's leading researchers in biotechnology.

At the evening's cocktail reception, Verma, serving as master of ceremonies, welcomed the guests and introduced a video highlighting the tremendous impact Jacobs has had during his lifetime, both during his career at Qualcomm, Inc., which he cofounded, and through his numerous philanthropic activities. Salk president William R. Brody led the crowd in a toast to Jacobs; then former vice president Al Gore spoke about Jacobs's rise to success.

Executive vice president Marsha Chandler introduced the musical performers for the evening: Geoffrey Keezer, a jazz pianist and two-time Grammy nominee who had recently recorded an album at the Jacobs home, and Jesse Palter, a vocalist and composer who performed a number of songs, ending with the classic "Hey, Big Spender." At this point Jacobs was led onto the stage and presented with a birthday cake and a gift specially chosen by Salk faculty—an early edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

After Jacobs thanked his friends and family for sharing the special day with him, Verma concluded the evening by reading a poem he'd composed for the occasion. It was a heartwarming tribute to a man who has done so much for the community and for the Salk Institute.