Inside Salk - October 2008 - page 10

COVER STORY
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Inside Salk October 2008
to Salk. The program exists today because of funding from the Noble
Foundation,” says Chory, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator
since 1997. “Noble Foundation funding allowed the Salk to recruit plant
scientists to an environment populated by some of the world’s most
innovative biomedical scientists. The high standards of our colleagues
influenced our program tremendously.”
Several organizations and individuals throughout the years have
also made significant financial contributions to plant biology at
Salk, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Seaver Institute, the
Mary K. Chapman Foundation, the Henry L. Guenther Foundation,
among many others.
Most recently, Salk’s donor-funded Innovation Grants Program has
provided a fresh injection of funding for the development of new
investigative techniques and novel discoveries that otherwise would
not be funded by traditional government sources.
Collaborative Environment
Assistant professor
Jeff Long
is among Salk’s plant biologists who has
benefited from the Innovation Grants Program since arriving to the
Institute in 2003. A developmental biologist who studies embryogenesis
of Arabidopsis, Long studies the TOPLESS gene, so named because of
its power to regulate the development of a shoot or a root structure from
a seedling.
His lab has learned how to control the function of this gene, which
ultimately can serve to manipulate plant structure and agricultural output,
he says. But having access to Salk scientists from various disciplines is a
major benefit that helps him look at plant biology from a new perspective.
“This is definitely the most collaborative place I’ve been, for sure,”
Long says. “
Juan Carlos [Izpisúa Belmonte]’s
research in limb
regeneration and his questions about how to keep stem cells in an
undifferentiated state, for example, is similar to what we’re asking
in plants.
“Those types of conversations, along with stem cell meetings at Salk,
are great because they make me think outside of plants and look into
new experiments by using similar ideas other stem cell scientists are
using,” he says.
Further collaborations have developed between the Plant Biology
Laboratory and
Joseph Noel,
director of the Jack H. Skirball Center for
Salk scientists identified the Arabidopsis genes involved in flowering time in themid 1990s.
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