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"Jumping genes" create diversity in human brain cells, offering clues to evolutionary and neurological disease

LA JOLLA, CA—Rather than sticking to a single DNA script, human brain cells harbor astonishing genomic variability, according to scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The findings, to be published in the Aug. 5, 2009, advance online edition of Nature, could help explain brain development and individuality, as well as lead to a better understanding of neurological disease.


New science of learning offers preview of tomorrow

LA JOLLA, CA—Of all the qualities that distinguish humans from other species, how we learn is one of the most significant. In the July 17, 2009 issue of the journal Science, researchers who are at the forefront of neuroscience, psychology, education, and machine learning have synthesized a new science of learning that is already reshaping how we think about learning and creating opportunities to re-imagine the classroom for the 21st century.


Timing is everything: Growth factor keeps brain development on track

LA JOLLA, CA—Just like a conductor cueing musicians in an orchestra, Fgf10, a member of the fibroblast growth factor (Ffg) family of morphogens, lets brain stem cells know that the moment to get to work has arrived, ensuring that they hit their first developmental milestone on time, report scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the July 16, 2009, edition of the journal Neuron.


Salk Institute establishes Presidential Chair to honor Qualcomm founder Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs

SAN DIEGO, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences today announced the establishment of the Irwin M. Jacobs Presidential Chair based on an endowment from Qualcomm and Qualcomm's employees. The Presidential Chair commemorates Qualcomm founder Dr. Irwin Jacobs' recent decision to step down as chairman of Qualcomm's Board of Directors and recognizes his ongoing dedicated leadership of the Salk Institute's Board of Trustees. Dr. Jacobs continues to serve as a member of Qualcomm's Board of Directors and in that capacity continues to provide his vision and guidance.


NIH designates Salk Institute one of seven national basic research centers focused on vision

LA JOLLA, CA—A $3.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health places the Salk Institute among one of seven NEI-designated centers focused exclusively on the basic research of vision, and is the first basic science facility created by the NEI in nearly a decade.


Newborn brain cells show the way

LA JOLLA, CA—Although the fact that we generate new brain cells throughout life is no longer disputed, their purpose has been the topic of much debate. Now, an international collaboration of researchers made a big leap forward in understanding what all these newborn neurons might actually do. Their study, published in the July 10, 2009, issue of the journal Science, illustrates how these young cells improve our ability to navigate our environment.


The two faces of Mdmx: Why some tumors don't respond to radiation and chemotherapy

LA JOLLA, CA—A tightly controlled system of checks and balances ensures that a powerful tumor suppressor called p53 keeps a tight lid on unchecked cell growth but doesn't wreak havoc in healthy cells. In their latest study, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggest just how finely tuned the system is and how little it takes to tip the balance.


Salk Institute ranks top for "Highest Impact" research in Neuroscience and Behavior

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies garnered the top discovery spot in the latest international ranking in the category "Neuroscience and Behavior" by Science Watch, a scientific organization that measures the citation impact of research published worldwide. Citations are an important measure of the value and influence of scientists' work and reflect the impact made by that work on scientific understanding.


Site for alcohol's action in the brain discovered

LA JOLLA, CA—Alcohol's inebriating effects are familiar to everyone. But the molecular details of alcohol's impact on brain activity remain a mystery. A new study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies brings us closer to understanding how alcohol alters the way brain cells work.


Climbing the ladder to longevity: critical enzyme pair identified

LA JOLLA, CA-Experiment after experiment confirms that a diet on the brink of starvation expands lifespan in mice and many other species. But the molecular mechanism that links nutrition and survival is still poorly understood. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a pivotal role for two enzymes that work together to determine the health benefits of diet restriction.


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