Inside Salk - October 2009 - page 3

Inside SalkOctober 2009
William R. Brody
Dear Friends,
Scientific discovery requiresuncommonminds – people
who understand rational scientific thinking but aren’t afraid to take
risks and bet on ideas often scorned by others as either unworthy or
unknowable. History demonstrates time and again that these rare creative
geniuses defy logic to uncover major discoveries that lead to new under-
standing of how organisms function in health and disease.
To continue the legacy of excellence that has defined the Salk
Institute, we are now searching for the next generation of scientific
pioneers. I am particularly delighted to give you an early alert regarding
our latest faculty recruitment successes.
Youwill learnmore about these exceptional scientists in themonths
ahead. But as a brief preview, let me tell you about the three extremely
promising researchers we have just attracted to the Salk:
Sreekanth Chalasani
, assistant professor in theMolecular Neurobiology
Lab. Chalasani’s research focuses on how the C. elegans worm’s nervous
system responds to changes in the environment, such as a sudden
lack of food. He hopes to learnmore about how complex neural circuits
process information and guide behavior.
Bjorn Lillemeier
, assistant professor in the ImmunobiologyMicro-
bial Pathogenesis Lab. Lillemeier uses biophotonics technology – high
resolution fluorescencemicroscopy – to study the organization of plasma
membranes and their contribution tomembrane-associated signal
transduction in T-cells. T-cells, themost common type of lymphocytes,
attack virus infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells, but also play
an integral part in the regulation of the immune system’s activity. Adding
a new perspective on how T-cell responses are controlled during develop-
ment and disease could identify new targets for themanipulation of
T-cell function.
Ye Zheng
, assistant professor in the ImmunobiologyMicrobial Patho-
genesis Lab. Zheng studies how regulatory T-cellsmaintain immune
system tolerance to prevent autoimmune diseases. He hopes that a
better understanding of how these regulatory T-cells are generated and
maintained will lead to new therapeutic approaches in a wide range of
autoimmune diseases and tumor immunity.
The competition for top flight scientists is definitely global. That’s why
we are so pleased to welcome each of these gifted junior facultymembers
over the next fewmonths. Their research will both strengthen and diver-
sify our efforts in Immunology, Neurobiology and Biophotonics – all key
directions for us.
The opportunity to recruit new faculty is especially gratifying, given
the current economic downturn. It is a tribute to themajor gifts we have
received in support of scientific discovery, in addition to the creative and
collaborative environment for which the Salk Institute is renowned.
The past fewmonths have brought other positive news, including
the NIH designation of a National Eye Institute here at the Salk – the
only one in the San Diego area, directed by Professor
Tom Albright
Ours is one of just seven such U.S. centers focused exclusively
on basic vision research.
And the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded
Salk researchers
Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte
Inder Verma
a $6.6million grant tomove ahead on exciting research to develop
stem cell-based treatments for some rare, incurable genetic diseases.
We could accomplish none of the above without your generous
philanthropic assistance, and I thank you for your steadfast support
of the Salk Institute and our mission to advance basic understanding
of biology in health and disease.
WilliamR. Brody, M.D., Ph.D.
IrwinM. Jacobs Presidential Chair
In Search of Excellence
To continue the legacy of excellence
that has defined the Salk Institute,
we are now searching for the next
generation of scientific pioneers.
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