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Salk Institute Appoints Dr. William R. Brody as President

La Jolla, CA – The Salk Institute at a press conference today announced the appointment of Dr. William R. Brody, an acclaimed physician scientist and university leader, as the Institute's new president. Currently completing a 12-year tenure as president of The Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Brody is renowned for his achievements in biomedical engineering and his stellar academic career. He will assume his new role effective March 1, 2009.


A fine balance

La Jolla, CA – Once a toddler has mastered the art of walking, it seems to come naturally for the rest of her life. But walking and running require a high degree of coordination between the left and right sides of the body. Now researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have shown how a class of spinal cord neurons, known as V3 neurons, makes sure that one side of the body doesn't get ahead of the other.


Food for thought–regulating energy supply to the brain during fasting

La Jolla, CA – If the current financial climate has taught us anything, it's that a system where over-borrowing goes unchecked eventually ends in disaster. It turns out this rule applies as much to our bodies as it does to economics. Instead of cash, our body deals in energy borrowed from muscle and given to the brain.


What HIV Needs

La Jolla, CA – The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) only brings along a minimalist's survival gear and relies on its host cell to provide what's missing. Now, a new study provides novel insight into how the virus exploits cellular functions to take up house in infected cells.


Salk Investigator Lei Wang Receives NIH New Innovator Award

La Jolla, CA – Salk researcher Dr. Lei Wang has been named a 2008 recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award. He joins a group of young scientists who will receive a portion of more than $138 million in support of innovative approaches to biomedical research.


Looking versus seeing

La Jolla, CA – The superior colliculus has long been thought of as a rapid orienting center of the brain that allows the eyes and head to turn swiftly either toward or away from the sights and sounds in our environment. Now a team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that the superior colliculus does more than send out motor control commands to eye and neck muscles.


Biologists Identify Genes Controlling Rhythmic Plant Growth

La Jolla, CA – A team of biologists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, UC San Diego, and Oregon State University has identified the genes that enable plants to undergo bursts of rhythmic growth at night and allow them to compete when their leaves are shaded by other plants.


A second career for a growth factor receptor: keeping nerve axons on target

La Jolla, CA – Neurons constituting the optic nerve wire up to the brain in a highly dynamic way. Cell bodies in the developing retina sprout processes, called axons, which extend toward visual centers in the brain, lured by attractive cues and making U-turns when they take the wrong path. How they find targets so accurately is a central question of neuroscience today.


How plants fine-tune their natural chemical defenses

La Jolla, CA – Even closely related plants produce their own natural chemical cocktails, each set uniquely adapted to the individual plant's specific habitat. Comparing anti-fungals produced by tobacco and henbane, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that only a few mutations in a key enzyme are enough to shift the whole output to an entirely new product mixture. Making fewer changes led to a mixture of henbane and tobacco-specific molecules and even so-called "chemical hybrids," explaining how plants can tinker with their natural chemical factories and adjust their product line to a changing environment without shutting down intracellular chemical factories completely.


Salk researchers find master switch in the brain that regulates desire for food and ability to reproduce

La Jolla, CA – Body weight and fertility have long known to be related to each other – women who are too thin, for example, can have trouble becoming pregnant. Now, a master switch has been found in the brain of mice that controls both, and researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies say it may work the same way in humans.


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