July 13, 2009

NIH designates Salk Institute one of seven national basic research centers focused on vision

Salk News

NIH designates Salk Institute one of seven national basic research centers focused on vision

LA JOLLA, CA—A $3.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health places the Salk Institute among one of seven NEI-designated centers focused exclusively on the basic research of vision, and is the first basic science facility created by the NEI in nearly a decade.

The only one of its kind in the San Diego region, the new Salk Institute Center for the Neurobiology of Vision is a consortium of 15 lead investigators conducting research on the visual system. The five-year grant funds core facilities that support each of the scientists’ research projects.

Incorporating researchers from the Salk’s Vision, Systems Neurobiology, Regulatory Biology and Computational Neurobiology laboratories, among others, the new vision center will take a broad approach to understanding the development and plasticity of the visual system, the mechanisms of the neural processing of visual stimuli, and the link between visual perception and behavior.

The Salk Institute Center for the Neurobiology of Vision joins other NEI-funded research centers throughout the United States, including Harvard Medical School’s Schepens Eye Research Institute and UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.

“The fact that the Salk has been added to the National Eye Institute’s prestigious group of leading institutions is a testament to its strength as a basic science leader and our vision research program in particular,” said Salk Institute President William R. Brody.

Understanding the mechanisms that process visual inputs in the retina and the brain and how that affects behavior provides a model system for better understanding the central nervous system. Such basic studies can also one day contribute to the development of prosthetics that restores vision to the blind.

“Vision research at the Salk Institute has become a powerhouse on the San Diego Mesa over the last decade,” said Thomas Albright, professor and director of the Vision Center Laboratory. “This grant will foster additional collaborations to significantly advance our research endeavors.”

“Discoveries made here with the support of this grant will undoubtedly facilitate the development of therapies for macular degeneration and other serious retinal and visual problems,” said Marsha A. Chandler, Salk executive vice president.

The Salk institute was recently cited by Science Watch as the international leader in Neuroscience and Behavioral discovery, a ranking that measures the citation impact of research published worldwide.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty members probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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