Salk News

Salk scientists adapt computer program to gauge eye spasm severity

LA JOLLA—If two clinicians observe the same patient with blepharospasm—uncontrollable muscle contractions around the eye—they’ll often come away with two different conclusions on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. That’s because the rating scales for blepharospasm are notoriously subjective and unreliable.

Salk professor awarded multimillion dollar NIH Pioneer Award for innovations in cell biology

LA JOLLA—Salk Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte has been awarded a 2016 National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award, a highly coveted grant that supports the most innovative biomedical research, for his work in stem cell biology and regeneration.

Salk neuroscientist granted $1 million to harness sound to control brain cells

LA JOLLA—Salk Associate Professor Sreekanth Chalasani has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative for developing a way to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves, which could be a boon to neuroscience research as well as medicine.

Salk Fellow Jesse Dixon receives NIH Director’s Early Independence Award

LA JOLLA—Helmsley-Salk Fellow Jesse Dixon is among 16 scientists nationwide to receive the Director’s Early Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pursue promising and innovative research. Dixon is the third Salk Fellow to receive the prestigious award since it was established in 2010.

Salk Institute names Martin Hetzer as Chief Science Officer

LA JOLLA—The Board of Trustees for the Salk Institute has approved the appointment of Martin Hetzer, a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, to the position of Vice President and Chief Science Officer, effective October 1.

Clodagh O’Shea named HHMI Faculty Scholar for groundbreaking work in designing synthetic viruses to destroy cancer

LA JOLLA—Clodagh O’Shea, an associate professor in the Salk Institute’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, is among the first recipients of a grant from the Faculty Scholars Program, a new partnership of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Simons Foundation for early career researchers whose work shows the potential for groundbreaking contributions in their fields. O’Shea is one of 84 Faculty Scholars who will receive $100,000–$400,000 per year over five years to support their pursuit of innovative research.

Targeting fat to treat cancer

LA JOLLA—Fat isn’t just something we eat: it may also lie at the heart of a new approach to treating cancer.

Salk Science & Music Series returns for fourth season

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute introduces the fourth season of its popular Science & Music Series with a concert by classical pianist Sa Chen and a presentation by Salk neurobiologist Greg Lemke at the Institute with a special start time of 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 2.

Salk welcomes new trustee Eric S. Sagerman

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute Board of Trustees welcomes its newest trustee, Eric S. Sagerman. Chaired by Irwin M. Jacobs, the 33-member Salk board helps drives the strategic direction of the Institute founded by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk in 1960.

The brain’s stunning genomic diversity revealed

LA JOLLA—Our brains contain a surprising diversity of DNA. Even though we are taught that every cell in our body has the same DNA, in fact most cells in the brain have changes to their DNA that make each neuron a little different.

Johns Hopkins and Salk co-lead $15 million initiative to unravel bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

LA JOLLA—The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies will co-lead a $15.4 million effort to develop new systems for quickly screening libraries of drugs for potential effectiveness against schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has announced. The consortium, which includes four academic or nonprofit institutions and two industry partners, will be led by Hongjun Song, PhD, of Johns Hopkins and Rusty Gage, PhD, of Salk.

Elevating brain protein allays symptoms of Alzheimer’s and improves memory

LA JOLLA—Boosting levels of a specific protein in the brain alleviates hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease in a mouse model of the disorder, according to new research published online August 25, 2016 in Scientific Reports.

New method creates endless supply of kidney precursor cells

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute scientists have discovered the holy grail of endless youthfulness—at least when it comes to one type of human kidney precursor cell. Previous attempts to maintain cultures of the so-called nephron progenitor cells often failed, as the cells died or gradually lost their developmental potential rather than staying in a more medically useful precursor state.

Salk scientists map brain’s action center

LA JOLLA—When you reach for that pan of brownies, a ball-shaped brain structure called the striatum is critical for controlling your movement toward the reward. A healthy striatum also helps you stop yourself when you’ve had enough.

New mechanism discovered for Alzheimer’s risk gene

LA JOLLA—For decades, scientists have known that people with two copies of a gene called apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) are much more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease at age 65 than the rest of the population. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute have identified a new connection between ApoE4 and protein build-up associated with Alzheimer’s that provides a possible biochemical explanation for how extra ApoE4 causes the disease.

Disregarded plant molecule actually a treasure

LA JOLLA—The best natural chemists out there are not scientists—they’re plants. Plants have continued to evolve a rich palette of small natural chemicals and receptors since they began to inhabit land roughly 450 million years ago.

Neurodevelopmental model of Williams Syndrome offers insight into human social brain

LA JOLLA—In a study spanning molecular genetics, stem cells and the sciences of both brain and behavior, researchers at University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute have created a neurodevelopmental model of a rare genetic disorder that may provide new insights into the underlying neurobiology of the human social brain.

When it comes to recognizing shapes, timing is everything

LA JOLLA—Visual prosthetics, or bionic eyes, are soon becoming a reality, as researchers make strides in strategies to reactivate parts of the brain that process visual information in people affected by blindness.

Salk Institute among top 25 North American scientific “stars” in Nature Index

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute ranks as one of the leading scientific “stars” in North America with high-quality output that has grown particularly fast, according to a new report by Nature Research.

Helmsley-Salk fellow garners prestigious microscopy award

Helmsley-Salk Fellow Dmitry Lyumkis has been awarded the 2016 George Palade Award by the Microscopy Society of America. The award is given for distinguished contributions to the field of microscopy and microanalysis in the life sciences of an early career scientist.

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