Salk News

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.

‘Superhero’ microbiome bacteria protect against deadly symptoms during infection

LA JOLLA–As concerns over deadly antibiotic-resistant strains of ‘superbug’ bacteria grow, scientists at the Salk Institute are offering a possible solution to the problem: ‘superhero’ bacteria that live in the gut and move to other parts of the body to alleviate life-threatening side effects caused by infections.

To scratch an itch is a hairy problem

LA JOLLA–An insect lands on your arm, moving the tiny hairs on your skin just enough to make you want to scratch. Salk Institute researchers have uncovered evidence of a dedicated neural pathway that transmits the itchy feeling triggered by such a light touch.

Bipolar patients’ brain cells predict response to lithium

LA JOLLA–The brain cells of patients with bipolar disorder, characterized by severe swings between depression and elation, are more sensitive to stimuli than other people’s brain cells, researchers have discovered.

Salk scientists discover protein factories hidden in human jumping genes

LA JOLLA–Scientists have discovered a previously unknown wellspring of genetic diversity in humans, chimps and most other primates. This diversity arises from a new component of itinerant sections of genetic code known as jumping genes.

Cellular damage control system helps plants tough it out

LA JOLLA–As food demands rise to unprecedented levels, farmers are in a race against time to grow plants that can withstand environmental challenges–infestation, climate change and more. Now, new research at the Salk Institute, published in Science on October 23, 2015, reveals details into a fundamental mechanism of how plants manage their energy intake, which could potentially be harnessed to improve yield.

Targeting mutant proteins might be silver bullet for neurodegenerative diseases

LA JOLLA–Scientists have unraveled how mutant molecules damage the nervous system of people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a group of disorders that hinder people’s ability to move and feel sensation in their hands and feet, according to a paper published October 21, 2015 in Nature.

Salk Fellows Dmitry Lyumkis and Patrick Hsu receive NIH’s Director’s Early Independence Award

LA JOLLA–Salk Fellows Dmitry Lyumkis and Patrick Hsu are among 16 scientists nationwide to receive the Director’s Early Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award supports junior scientists in their efforts to pursue innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research. Established in 2011, the Early Independence Award is part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, which encourages paradigm-shifting research projects that are inherently risky and untested.

Terrence Sejnowski receives Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

LA JOLLA–The Society for Neuroscience (SfN), an organization of nearly 40,000 scientists and clinicians, will award the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience to Terrence Sejnowski, Salk professor and head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory.

Janelle Ayres receives Young Faculty Award from DARPA

LA JOLLA–Salk Institute scientist Janelle Ayres has received an award of $500,000 over two years from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further her research on bolstering a person’s microbiome to help their body overcome an infection. The award comes with the possibility of an additional $500,000 for a third year.

Researchers learn how to grow old brain cells

LA JOLLA–For the first time, scientists can use skin samples from older patients to create brain cells without rolling back the youthfulness clock in the cells first. The new technique, which yields cells resembling those found in older people’s brains, will be a boon to scientists studying age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Clodagh O’Shea awarded $3 million to unlock the “black box” of the nucleus

LA JOLLA–As part of a $120 million, 5-year initiative to understand the cell’s nucleus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded more than $30 million to San Diego researchers, including the Salk Institute and the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego). Salk Associate Professor Clodagh O’Shea has been awarded a grant of $3 million over 5 years, along with the possibility of tapping into an additional opportunity pool of $3 million each year for the period.

New Salk-Helmsley Fellow brings cutting-edge gene editing technologies to the Salk Institute

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of bioengineer Patrick Hsu in the innovative Salk Fellows Program. Hsu, who hails from Harvard University and MIT’s Broad Institute, aims to develop the next generation of medical therapeutics by harnessing the gene editing technology known as CRISPR. A gene editing technique originally derived from bacterial immune systems, CRISPR has recently made headlines for its use in modifying DNA with unprecedented ease and accuracy.

Mobile app records our erratic eating habits

LA JOLLA–Breakfast, lunch and dinner? For too many of us, the three meals of the day go more like: morning meeting pastry, mid-afternoon energy drink and midnight pizza. In Cell Metabolism on September 24, Salk Institute scientists present daily food and beverage intake data collected from over 150 participants of a mobile research app over three weeks. They show that a majority of people eat for 15 hours or longer, with less than a quarter of the day’s calories being consumed before noon and over a third consumed after 6 p.m.

New grant will fund collaborative effort to build reproducible assays to model autism

LA JOLLA-The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $13 million grant over five years to develop and disseminate new stem cell-based technologies and assays for studying autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other mental health diseases to a consortium of researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, working in tandem with leaders in the biotechnology sector.

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