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Salk scientist Ursula Bellugi elected to National Academy of Sciences

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute professor Ursula Bellugi, who pioneered the study of the biological foundation of language, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy made the announcement today during its 144th annual meeting in Washington, DC. Election to the Academy recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, and is considered one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist.

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Salk scientists hammer out a pathway that promotes muscle cell survival in mice

La Jolla, CA – Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified an enzyme that pumps up a cell's ability to maintain healthy muscle and restores normal muscle function in genetically engineered mice with weak muscles. The study, published online in Nature Medicine, is the first to explore the part this enzyme plays in a cascade of events triggered by exercise-induced hormones and other signals.

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Salk Scientist Ronald M. Evans Receives America's Top Prize in Medicine

La Jolla, CA – Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., Professor in the Salk Institute's Gene Expression Laboratory and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, has been named a recipient of the 2007 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research – America's top prize in medicine.

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Motile Cilia go with the flow

La Jolla, CA – Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that propel mucus out of airways, have to agree on the direction of the fluid flow to get things moving. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered a novel two-step mechanism that ensures that all cilia beat in unison.

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All roads lead to GUN1

La Jolla, CA – Scientists have identified three different signals that indicate damage to chloroplasts – the photosynthetic factories of plant cells that give plants their green color – but little is known about how the signal gets passed on to the nucleus. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies made a big step towards explaining how chloroplasts let a cell's nucleus know when things start to go wrong at the periphery so nuclear gene expression can be adjusted accordingly.

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Associative memory: Learning at all levels

La Jolla, CA – "Green" means "go," but what does "red" mean? Just about everybody says "stop" since we all have learned to imbue certain colors with meaning (or we would be road kill by now). Long thought to be limited to higher levels of information processing, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies successfully traced this type of associative learning to early stages of the visual processing pathway.

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Plant size morphs dramatically as scientists tinker with outer layer

La Jolla, CA – Jack's magical beans may have produced beanstalks that grew and grew into the sky, but something about normal, run-of-the-mill plants limits their reach upward. For more than a century, scientists have tried to find out which part of the plant both drives and curbs growth: is it a shoot's outer waxy layer? Its inner layer studded with chloroplasts? Or the vascular system that moves nutrients and water? The answer could have great implications for modern agriculture, which desires a modern magical bean or two.

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Darwin's famous finches and Venter's marine microbes

La Jolla, CA – Although the Galápagos finches were to play a pivotal role in the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection, he had no inkling of their significance when he collected them during his voyage on the HMS Beagle.

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Insulin: in need of some restraint?

La Jolla, CA – Knocking out the gene for a peptide associated with insulin secretion protects mice against the harmful effects of a high-fat diet, report researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Their findings, detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that urocortin 3, a new peptide recently discovered in the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas, plays a role in the increased production of insulin in response to high caloric intake in animals.

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When it comes to "talent," size of brain components does matter – but bigger isn't necessarily better

La Jolla, CA – The ability to hit a baseball or play a piano well is part practice and part innate talent. One side of the equation required for skilled performances has its roots in the architecture of the brain genetically determined before birth, say scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Practice takes no explaining, just persistence.

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