February 25, 2009
La Jolla, CA — The Salk Institute today named principal investigator Inder M. Verma the first incumbent of the Irwin Mark Jacobs Chair in Exemplary Life Sciences. Established to honor its namesake’s exceptional leadership in business and philanthropy, the honor is given to an internationally renowned senior Salk scientist who has made extraordinary discoveries in basic biomedical research and has contributed to the direction and vitality of the Institute.
Dr. Verma, a professor in Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics, has made outstanding advances in research ranging from cancer biology to development of gene transfer technologies. He is one of the world’s leading authorities in gene therapy, having developed a gene therapy vector, based on a stripped-down version of HIV, that successfully delivers genes for therapeutic purposes. His group also studies two genes implicated in familial breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, and recently demonstrated that their action is linked to the cell’s division cycle, and that BRCA1 regulates gene activity.
An American Cancer Society Professor, Dr. Verma is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Third World Academy of Sciences and the recipient of the 2007 Cozzarelli Prize and 2008 Vilcek Prize.
The Irwin Mark Jacobs Chair in Exemplary Life Science is named after the Institute’s Chairman of the Board, who redefined how the world thinks of telecommunications and information technology. Moreover, along with his wife, Joan Klein Jacobs, he has gone on to extend the same kind of visionary leadership to local, national, and international nonprofit organizations.
“Dr. Verma has demonstrated a deep commitment to service during much of his 35-year career at the Salk Institute,” said Marsha A. Chandler, executive vice president. “Having served multiple terms as chair of the faculty, he has provided tireless leadership to both the Salk’s faculty and the administration.
“Likewise, we are so pleased that through the Irwin Mark Jacobs Chair in Exemplary Life Science, Dr. Jacobs’ vision and leadership will be perpetually linked with the Salk Institute, where it will support the work of exemplary scientists dedicated to pursuing basic biological research.”
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health, and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., whose polio vaccine all but eradicated the crippling disease poliomyelitis in 1955, opened the Institute in 1965 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes.