April 28, 2009
La Jolla, CA – Salk researcher Marc R. Montminy, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious honorary society for scientists. The Academy made the announcement today during its 146th annual meeting in Washington, DC.
Montminy’s honor brings the number of Salk faculty elected to the NAS to 15. He was chosen along with 71 others including Salk adjunct professors Baldomero M. Olivera, Ph.D., a Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah, and Detlef Weigel, director, department of molecular biology at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany.
Throughout his career, Montminy has been interested in the complex network of brain signals, hormones, and physiological mechanisms that modulate the body’s energy balance and set the stage for metabolic disease. While investigating the genetic basis of diabetes, Montminy uncovered a family of genes that act as metabolic switches, turning other genes on or off.
One of them, called CRTC2, acts as a “fasting switch” and plays a crucial role in the development of Type II diabetes. It flips on glucose production in the liver when blood glucose levels run low during the night. Montminy’s research revealed that in many patients with Type II diabetes, CRTC2 is on all the time and as a result the liver acts like a sugar factory on overtime, churning out glucose throughout the day. Initial experiments suggest that drugs, which prevent CRTC2 from getting stuck might be useful in lowering glucose levels in diabetic individuals and reducing long-term complications associated with the disease.
About Marc Montminy
Marc Montminy received a combined M.D./Ph.D. in physiology from the Tufts University School of Medicine and a B.S. in biochemistry from Harvard University. Prior to joining Salk, Montminy was a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Laboratory of Advanced Genetic Technologies and section head of Molecular Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. He has received numerous awards, including a McKnight Neuroscience Development Award.
About the National Academy of Sciences:
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furthering science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Established in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has served to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art” whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government. For more information, or for the full list of newly elected members, visit http://www.nasonline.org.
About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.
Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.