October 12, 2020

In Memoriam: Paul F. Glenn

Salk Institute remembers visionary aging-research benefactor

Salk News

In Memoriam: Paul F. Glenn

Salk Institute remembers visionary aging-research benefactor

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute lost a good friend and scientific partner when Paul F. Glenn passed away on September 29, 2020, at his home in Montecito, California. He was 89.

Glenn was an attorney by education, and had a fruitful career as a commodities trader. After the loss of his grandparents, Glenn founded the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research in 1965. His philanthropic focus was ahead of its time: to fund research that would lead to treatments and therapies to extend the quality of a person’s health during their lifetime.

His generous financial support allowed the Glenn Foundation to establish Paul F. Glenn Centers for the Biology of Aging Research not only at the Salk Institute, but also at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, the Mayo Clinic, Princeton, Einstein College of Medicine, University of Michigan and the Buck Institute. The Glenn Foundation has funded more than $100 million in basic research since its inception.

“Without Paul’s support in the field of aging research, I doubt our program at the Salk Institute would have matured as it has,” says Professor Jan Karlseder, director of Salk’s Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging Research and holder of the Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair. “He was a true visionary who definitely left the world a better place. Aging research owes a debt of gratitude for his commitment.”

Salk’s Glenn Center was established in January 2009 with a $5 million award from the Glenn Foundation. The Center draws from 13 of Salk’s leading laboratories specializing in telomere biology, stem cell biology and metabolism research to address the overarching goal of defining a healthy life span, or health span, and to answer one of the most elusive questions in biology: Is there a defined biological process of aging that is universal to all organisms? The work enabled by Salk’s Glenn Center continues to pave the way for new insights into age-related decline, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and much more.

“Paul leaves behind a tremendous legacy,” says Professor Vicki Lundblad, associate director of Salk’s Glenn Center and holder of the Becky and Ralph S. O’Connor Chair. “His generosity and forward-thinking mindset have allowed scientists—not only here at Salk, but around the country—to pursue high-risk, high-reward research that has led to significant breakthroughs in improving human health.”

The Salk Institute extends its condolences to the Glenn family and the Glenn Foundation. To learn more about Glenn’s life and impact, visit this In Memoriam page.


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Unlocking the secrets of life itself is the driving force behind the Salk Institute. Our team of world-class, award-winning scientists pushes the boundaries of knowledge in areas such as neuroscience, cancer research, aging, immunobiology, plant biology, computational biology and more. Founded by Jonas Salk, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, the Institute is an independent, nonprofit research organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature, and fearless in the face of any challenge.