Since arriving at Salk in July, I have been enormously impressed by so many facets of the Institute, but nothing (except perhaps the architecture) is more striking than the exceptional quality of the scientific research. As I have been meeting with each member of the faculty, I have been able to see first-hand one of the attributes that makes Salk so unique – the benefits that the research draws from the many collaborations among the scientists. It is these interactions that have truly made Salk greater than the sum of its parts. The strategic plan and the various collaborative programs on the horizon will, no doubt, further the path-breaking research at Salk that ensures new scientific discoveries ultimately benefiting humanity.
California has led the nation by putting together a $3 billion fund for stem cell research. Having already begun to draw on these funds, Salk's team of established stem cell experts, as well as scientists who work in gene expression and related fields, are poised to substantially increase our understanding of how stem cells can be developed for therapeutic purposes. Construction is already underway at Salk for a new stem cell core facility funded in part with a $2.3 million grant awarded in June by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The new facility will serve as a training center for the next generation of scientists who work in this very promising field of research.
Further securing our commitment to this emerging field is Salk's participation in the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SDCRM). The consortium, consisting of the Salk Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California, San Diego, will catalyze and bring together the intellectual resources from each of these institutes to further expedite discoveries in stem cell research.
Over the past year, our Salk Innovation Grants Program has flourished. Thus far, 12 Salk scientists (with five more awards to be announced shortly) have received immediate support for cutting-edge studies in their beginning stages. Although such projects often offer promising and significant scientific breakthroughs, they are normally not funded by traditional agencies which tend to focus on more established proposals. The Innovation Grants Program, funded totally by private philanthropy, provides Salk scientists with the financial feasibility to ask bold scientific questions which they can seek to answer by exploring their most creative ideas. It is also our intention to establish a Technology Innovation Fund, which will enable our scientists to more nimbly adopt new technologies and equipment. This fund will help our technologies to keep pace with the dynamism of our ideas.
All of these steps, intended to accelerate the Salk Institute's forward momentum and to maintain its preeminence as a world leader in basic biological research, are rounded out by the Institute's update to its Master Plan. The plan will support Salk's anticipated growth and development for the next 50 years. It proposes a number of new facilities that will expand scientific research space, accommodate emerging technologies, and provide new and improved support facilities for the Institute. The plan will soon be submitted to the City of San Diego for approval, which we are hopeful to receive early in 2008. The entire Salk community: scientists, researchers, Trustees, staff, students, and supporters, can rightly be proud of Salk's outstanding record of achievement. With the potential of this community, the future promises to be even more illustrious.