Salk Institute for Biological Studies: InsideSalk

Executive Message

Dear Friends,

In the first few months since arriving at the Salk Institute, I've had the opportunity to take a good look at all the working parts of this amazing place and to see how they all come together to make Salk one of the most productive and innovative research institutes in the world.

What make Salk's environment so rich are the dedicated scientists who tirelessly work in the laboratories and the administrative staff that support them. Meeting with faculty members has also given me a greater appreciation of the Institute's place in history and, just as importantly, the solid position it holds for making important discoveries as we enter a new era of basic scientific research.

We are in the renaissance of biomedical science, and being at the Salk must be similar to having been in Florence during the Italian Renaissance. The impact of our discoveries on human health is critical to the aging of the world's population. Without ways to cure chronic illnesses, governments will have to spend their entire GDP on health care. The good news is that the major discoveries being made in laboratories like the Salk will have a profound impact on finding new ways to cure disease and alleviate suffering. And medicine in the future will be personalized, as we better understand how a person's genetic makeup allows a particular form of therapy to be applied successfully.

At the heart of Salk's leading research is the collaborative spirit under which it's conducted. It's not uncommon, for example, for a plant biologist to have discussions with a human stem cell scientist in an effort to find solutions to common scientific problems in their respective labs. It's this interdisciplinary camaraderie between investigators that keeps science moving forward at Salk and it is what steadily nurtures the creative nature of biomedical research.

This commitment and belief in collaboration to expedite discovery was strengthened further in March when the Institute forged a very important strategic alliance with Sanofi-Aventis. The non-restrictive relationship is a win-win model for both organizations. Salk scientists benefit from financial support of their research while the French pharmaceutical company has access to top-quality basic science.

The Institute also has an ongoing strategic relationship with Ipsen, another French pharmaceutical company that sponsors targeted research programs focusing on proliferative diseases with particular emphasis on novel therapeutics. Established last year, the Ipsen Life Sciences Program at Salk also funds core grants for basic research on chronic inflammation and its contribution to malignant diseases, and innovation grants, which provide funding for the exploration of advanced scientific concepts.

The engine of discovery requires philanthropic support as well as government research grants and partnerships with industry. I am pleased to report that despite the difficult financial environment, our donors have stepped up to the plate and we are on track to have one of the Salk's best fundraising years ever. We need your support more than ever and I have been gratified to see the large number of people who are committed to the Salk's mission.

I feel privileged to be at the Salk Institute. Looking at the extraordinary talent of its researchers and their history of seminal scientific contributions, most recently in metabolism and stem cell research, there's no doubt that our position as a world leader in basic science is secure. And as we enter an era of a resurgence and interest in science, I'm excited by what we can accomplish and the possibilities that lie ahead.

William R. Brody

InsideSalk 07|09 Issue | © Salk Institute for Biological Studies