Members of Salk's faculty, including Nobel laureate Roger Guillemin, participated in the inaugural San Diego Science Festival – a multidisciplinary event that highlighted a wide range of research topics through interactive activities, lay presentations and stage shows in March.
Guillemin participated in the Lunch with a Laureate program in which he shared the story of his 1950s groundbreaking research of brain hormones to a large group of high school students.
Guillemin's discovery of somatostatin, a neurohormone, laid the foundation for further development of a new class of substances that regulate growth, development, reproduction and responses to stress. His finding also advanced the study and treatment of a variety of disorders, including thyroid diseases, infertility, diabetes and several types of tumors.
Five principal investigators from Salk also spoke to San Diego-area students as part of the festival's Nifty Fifty program, which featured the region's top researchers who shared their experience and passion for science in an effort to inspire tomorrow's scientists.
Among them was Geoff Wahl, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory, who studies the genetic basis of the origin and progression of cancer, while also working toward the development and new targeted therapeutic strategies. His presentation was timely as public health officials reported that cancer had eclipsed heart disease as the No. 1 killer in San Diego County.
Salk professors Inder Verma, Joanne Chory, Terry Sejnowski and Fred. H. Gage, also gave presentations at various middle and high schools during the festival. The month-long festival ended with the Science of You Expo Day in Balboa Park, where representatives from Salk's Mobile Science Lab hosted an activity booth to give visitors the opportunity to perform DNA extractions from wheat germ.
"It was wonderful that the San Diego Science Festival provided so many varied ways for the Salk Institute to interact with students of all ages," said Salk Education Specialist Dona Mapston. "I am certain that the excitement for science we saw among all the students will have a lasting impact on their education."