Inside Salk - October 2008 - page 9

Inside Salk October 2008
laboratory was combined under one roof
in 1988.
There’s no question that The Noble
Foundation played a crucial role in
establishing plant biology at Salk, Lamb
says. It contributed significantly to start-
up costs and an initial five-year grant for
Lamb. The agreement also called for the
creation of a small plant cell biology
program in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the
foundation’s headquarters and where
Lamb served as an advisor.
By 1987, that program eventually
morphed into the foundation’s new Plant
Biology Division, which was directed by
Lamb’s Oxford colleague and recruit
Richard Dixon. The strong synergy between
both groups led to a second (in 1988) and
third (in 1993) five-year funding cycle that
allowed the Salk Institute to expand the
program and hire Chory andWeigel.
This is definitely the
most collaborative
place I’ve been, for
sure. 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.
“Salk’s proven reputation, along
with joint postdoctoral fellowships,
yearly retreats andmentorship for some
of the young scientists, helped provide
fertile ground for the Noble Foundation’s
Plant Biology Division to grow,” said
Noble Foundation President and CEO
Michael A. Cawley.
“Both organizations and the scientific
community have benefited greatly from
this collaboration, which has spannedmore
than 30 years and will continue for as long
as man poses questions about the world
around him.”
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
initially focused on funding agriculture
in an attempt to rejuvenate the state’s
industry following the Dust Bowl of the
1930s andWorldWar II. It is named
after the family’s patriarch, a farm
merchant who acquired land as farmers
left the area. The land was later found to be
rich in oil and natural gas.
Former Salk President Frederic de Hoffmann
played a key role in securing funding from the
foundation when he identified the potential for
great collaboration between the two
organizations. He had a strong relationship
with a foundation boardmember and believed
Salk’s Plant Biology program could provide a
modern scientific approach to the foundation’s
historic interest in agriculture.
He was right. The synergy led to the growth,
success andmany discoveries that are still
proving to be vital.
“In hindsight this was kind of the vision,
but I don’t think anyone imagined it would be
on this scale or with this impact,” says Lamb,
who left Salk in 1998 and is now director of
the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England.
Chory agrees.
“They made a big difference by contributing
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