First Annual Alumni Mixer features Salk scientists, past and present
Salk established a new tradition on May 14 at the Institute's first-ever Alumni Mixer. The special evening included a panel discussion for Salk postdocs and graduate students featuring Salk alumni William Alaynick, Beth Anne Baber, Anthony Craig and Philip Low. Afterward, faculty, alumni, postdocs and graduate students enjoyed poster sessions on Salk's current research and remarks from this year's Alumni-Faculty Fellowship recipient, research associate Kevin Curran.
Curran, who works in Sreekanth Chalasani's Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, presented his early stage work in behavioral neurobiology— specifically, the cellular and genetic mechanisms of behavior using C. elegans, a small invertebrate model system. The ability for an organism to respond appropriately to a stressful or potentially harmful situation, such as facing a predator, is critical to the survival and wellbeing of the organism. In humans, malfunctions in this neurobiological process lead to costly and debilitating diseases, such as panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I consider myself very fortunate to be awarded the Alumni-Faculty Fellowship," Curran explained. "This type of 'high risk/high reward' project is often overlooked with traditional government funding. In the coming year, the fellowship will allow me to conduct a drug screen in order to further identify the molecular pathways that modulate threat avoidance behavior."
The significance of the inaugural event was not lost on the attendees. "It's our hope that Salk alumni and current scientists can continue to build meaningful connections around our shared experience of the Institute," noted Chris Kintner, a professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Lab and faculty chair of the event.
Training the next generation of scientists is central to Salk's mission. Approximately 235 postdocs from over 50 countries work in Salk labs, and 100 percent of contributions to the Alumni-Faculty Fellowship Fund will support a research associate each year. To learn more about the Salk Alumni program, visit www.salk.edu/alumni.
Save the date for the next Alumni Mixer on June 26, 2014.