Salk News

Memory capacity of brain is 10 times more than previously thought

LA JOLLA—Salk researchers and collaborators have achieved critical insight into the size of neural connections, putting the memory capacity of the brain far higher than common estimates. The new work also answers a longstanding question as to how the brain is so energy efficient and could help engineers build computers that are incredibly powerful but also conserve energy.

Grafted plants’ genomes can communicate with each other

LA JOLLA—Agricultural grafting dates back nearly 3,000 years. By trial and error, people from ancient China to ancient Greece realized that joining a cut branch from one plant onto the stalk of another could improve the quality of crops.

How the cell’s power station survives attacks

LA JOLLA—Mitochondria, the power generators in our cells, are essential for life. When they are under attack—from poisons, environmental stress or genetic mutations—cells wrench these power stations apart, strip out the damaged pieces and reassemble them into usable mitochondria.

Autism-linked protein lays groundwork for healthy brain

LA JOLLA—A gene linked to mental disorders helps lays the foundation for a crucial brain structure during prenatal development, according to Salk Institute research published January 14, 2016 in Cell Reports.

Salk elects three leaders in biotech and philanthropy

LA JOLLA-On December 4, the Salk Institute Board of Trustees unanimously voted to elect three new trustees to the board: International business executive Markus Reinhard, philanthropist Haeyoung Kong Tang and chemist Terry Rosen.

Scientists find key driver for treatment of deadly brain cancer

LA JOLLA—Glioblastoma multiforme is a particularly deadly cancer. A person diagnosed with this type of brain tumor typically survives 15 months, if given the best care. The late Senator Ted Kennedy succumbed to this disease in just over a year.

Salk Cancer Center appoints Reuben Shaw as new director

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute has named Professor Reuben Shaw as the new director of Salk’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. Shaw is a member of Salk’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and the holder of the William R. Brody Chair.

Here comes the sun: cellular sensor helps plants find light

LA JOLLA—Despite seeming passive, plants wage wars with each other to outgrow and absorb sunlight. If a plant is shaded by another, it becomes cut off from essential sunlight it needs to survive.

Loss of tiny genetic molecules could play role in neurodegenerative diseases

LA JOLLA—A tiny sliver of a person’s DNA—several thousand times smaller than a typical gene—produces a molecule that has crucial influence over whether a person has any control over their muscles, according to a paper published December 18, 2015 in the journal Science.

Reuben Shaw honored as recipient of William R. Brody Chair

Salk scientist Reuben Shaw has been named recipient of the William R. Brody Chair in acknowledgement of his outstanding contributions and dedication to scientific research. The chair was dedicated to Salk President William Brody last month on behalf of the Salk Board of Trustees in appreciation of his six years of leadership of the Institute. Brody will retire at the end of this month.

Salk scientists discover the function and connections of three cell types in the brain

LA JOLLA—How the brain functions is still a black box: scientists aren’t even sure how many kinds of nerve cells exist in the brain. To know how the brain works, they need to know not only what types of nerve cells exist, but also how they work together. Researchers at the Salk Institute have gotten one step closer to unlocking this black box.

Salk Institute receives Charity Navigator’s highest rating for fifth consecutive year

LA JOLLA—For the fifth consecutive year, the Salk Institute’s sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency has earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity and nonprofit evaluator. Receiving four out of a possible four stars for five straight years puts Salk in an elite group of nonprofits.

Fighting liver fibrosis, the wound that never heals

LA JOLLA—Chronic damage to the liver eventually creates a wound that never heals. This condition, called fibrosis, gradually replaces normal liver cells—which detoxify the food and liquid we consume—with more and more scar tissue until the organ no longer works.

Salk researcher Beverly Emerson named 2015 AAAS Fellow for contributions to science

LA JOLLA—Salk Professor Beverly Emerson has been named a 2015 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. She earned the recognition for her distinguished contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms by which genes are transcriptionally regulated and how these processes can malfunction to cause disease.

Salk scientists make serotonin-transmitting neurons in a dish

LA JOLLA—Scientists at the Salk Institute have taken human skin cells and turned them into neurons that signal to one another using serotonin, a brain chemical that is crucial to our mental well-being.

Blocking immune cell treats new type of age-related diabetes

LA JOLLA—Diabetes is often the result of obesity and poor diet choices, but for some older adults the disease might simply be a consequence of aging. New research has discovered that diabetes—or insulin resistance—in aged, lean mice has a different cellular cause than the diabetes that results from weight gain (type 2). And the findings point toward a possible cure for what the co-leading scientists, Ronald Evans and Ye Zheng, are now calling a new kind of diabetes (type 4).

Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn named Salk Institute president

LA JOLLA—Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, a pioneering molecular biologist and highly respected leader in the scientific community, has been named president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Salk professor Ron Evans to co-lead ‘Dream Team’ of pancreatic cancer researchers from US, UK

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute will co-lead a new transatlantic ‘Dream Team’ of researchers that will launch a fresh attack on pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer on both sides of the Atlantic. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), Cancer Research UK, and The Lustgarten Foundation selected the team and will provide $12 million in funding over three years.

Experimental drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease shows anti-aging effects

LA JOLLA–Salk Institute researchers have found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer’s disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals.

Molecular “brake” stifles human lung cancer

LA JOLLA–Scientists at the Salk Institute have uncovered a molecule whose mutation leads to the aggressive growth of a common and deadly type of lung cancer in humans.

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