December 17, 2003
La Jolla, CA – The Salk Institute has received a $7 million gift to establish a new center that will use computer-based computational biology methods to help unravel the complexities of the brain.
The goal of the center will be to help Salk scientists organize the wealth of information that is now available about the genes and proteins that regulate nerve cell activity as well as the networks of nerve cells that regulate brain function. Named to honor Salk Nobel laureate Francis Crick, the center will build upon Crick’s important work during the past two decades centering on consciousness and cognitive processing within the brain.
Joan and Irwin Jacobs provided the gift and have agreed to lend their name to the center. “We are proud to invest in the Crick-Jacobs Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology and to honor the work of Francis Crick and his colleagues at the Salk Institute,” said Irwin Jacobs, who is the co-founder, chairman of the board, and chief executive officer of San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., an international leader in digital wireless technology. “The Salk Institute is world-renowned for conducting basic research in the neurosciences, and we believe the cadre of current Salk faculty members as well as new faculty attracted to the Institute as a result of this innovative program will take our knowledge of the brain to new levels.”
“We are extremely grateful to the Jacobs family for this significant investment in neuroscience research at the Salk,” said Richard A. Murphy, president and CEO of the Salk Institute. “The Crick-Jacobs Center will have a profound impact on our understanding of the brain, and we are confident that work at the center will ultimately lead to new understandings of information processing in the brain as well as brain diseases, ranging from degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, to psychiatric illnesses.”
The center will allow computational biologists to mine the enormous amount of data on the composition of genes and proteins in the brain as well as the neural networks that regulate information processing. The ultimate goal will be to generate theoretical models to explain how the brain works, which then will be tested in Salk laboratories by experimental neuroscientists. To advance this work, the institute is in the process of recruiting up to four new faculty members to staff the center.
The Jacobs gift comes on the heels of a $30 million anonymous gift to the institute’s endowment announced on November 18 and follows major recent institute discoveries relating to Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and HIV/AIDS.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. The institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, M.D., with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.