Salk Institute for Biological Studies: InsideSalk

Salk's History: A Story Rich in Creativity and Scientific Discoveries

William Brody

I believe you will enjoy reading about the Salk Institute's rich history of the last half-century in this anniversary-year issue of Inside Salk. It is a splendid success story that began with a daring idea by our founder, Jonas Salk, and became a reality that today yields vital scientific discoveries for the benefit of mankind.

Much like the Institute's laboratory spaces, which were designed with flexibility in mind by famed American architect Louis Kahn, research at the Salk has undergone organic evolution and expansion as research interests shifted and new technology appeared. At its core, the Salk science story has always been and continues to be about creativity and unwavering curiosity.

This is what drew a small group of brilliant scientists to the West Coast in the early 1960s to join Jonas Salk as founding fellows in what he described as a "crucible of creativity." Over the next 50 years, Jonas' concept was put into remarkable practice.

Today, a highly collaborative environment in which scientists are free to pursue their boundless questions is what defines the Salk Institute and has established it as a much sought-after place to conduct leading basic biological research.

The Institute's intellectually hospitable atmosphere has prompted many of the best minds in science to make the Salk their permanent home. Many of the young scientists who were appointed to the Salk's faculty in the 1970s are still here, still contributing seminal discoveries that are improving our understanding of human health and disease.

Many of the early discoveries you'll read about in the cover story have led to treatments for cancer, depression, heart disease and reproductive disorders. The impact of some of these landmark findings has also been recognized by the greater scientific community - leading in some cases to Nobel Prizes and many other top honors.

Throughout its history, the Salk is also credited with preparing the next generation of exceptional scientists who will contribute tomorrow's discoveries.

The Salk Institute has grown and firmly cemented its superb reputation since four scientists (Renato Dulbecco, Edwin Lennox, Melvin Cohn and Jacob Bronowski) chose to follow Jonas Salk to La Jolla and establish what many today call a "temple of science" in one of the most idyllic locations in the world.

In the next Inside Salk and my next column, I will highlight our most laudable scientific accomplishments, and then close our anniversary year with a look at the very promising future of Salk science. For now, I invite you to learn more about our storied history in the following pages.

InsideSalk 04|10 Issue | © Salk Institute for Biological Studies