November 28, 2016

Salk Institute names Ted Waitt board chairman

Outgoing chair Irwin Jacobs to remain on Board of Trustees

Salk News

Salk Institute names Ted Waitt board chairman

Outgoing chair Irwin Jacobs to remain on Board of Trustees

Ted Waitt

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Credit: Salk Institute

LA JOLLA—Ted Waitt, chairman of the Waitt Foundation and cofounder of Gateway, Inc., a pioneer in the direct marketing of personal computers, has been named chairman of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies’ Board of Trustees. He assumes his new role immediately.

Irwin Jacobs, philanthropist and founder of San Diego-based QUALCOMM, has held the chairmanship of the Salk Board since November 2006, and chose to step down on the 10th anniversary of his chairmanship. He will remain on the Board as chairman emeritus.

Waitt’s appointment was made during the Board’s tri-annual meeting on November 18.

“I am delighted the Trustees unanimously agreed that Ted is the right successor to lead the Board,” says Jacobs. “He is wholly enthusiastic and committed to Salk’s basic biological research and has the enterprising leadership and vision to expand the reach of the Institute’s science even further.”

Salk Institute President Elizabeth Blackburn says: “We are thrilled to have Mr. Waitt as the leader of Salk’s Board. His financial acumen and entrepreneurship, as well as his extensive experience as a Salk Trustee, will serve the Institute well. I am confident he will help advance the Institute’s mission for high-impact research that solves biomedical mysteries and transforms the world for many more years to come.”

Waitt joined the Salk Board of Trustees in 2004. He has served as a vice chair, as well as chair of Salk’s Governance Committee. He currently sits on Salk’s Executive Committee.

In 2008, the Waitt Foundation gave a $20 million grant that funded the creation of the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center at Salk. The center employs next-generation imaging and visualization tools that enable investigators from across many biological disciplines to take advantage of the latest technology for advancement in such research areas as aging, cancer, neuroscience, metabolism, vision, infectious diseases and genetic disorders.

In accepting the chairmanship, Waitt expressed his gratitude to Jacobs for shepherding the high-risk, high-reward biomedical science that has long been his passion.

“I have big shoes to fill,” says Waitt of succeeding Jacobs on the Salk Board. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. Blackburn, the faculty and the Trustees to implement Dr. Blackburn’s vision for bold, transformative science while ushering in an era of unprecedented financial success at Salk.”

Waitt says he intends to dedicate the majority of his professional time to Salk and related scientific areas while the Waitt Foundation will continue to remain focused on ocean conservation. In the past decade, the Waitt Foundation has invested over $70 million in global ocean initiatives and has been involved with a number of partners in the creation of over 12 million square kilometers of protected ocean around the planet.

“While I continue to view overfishing as the single biggest fixable problem facing our planet and its inhabitants in the near term, I see biological research as the biggest opportunity for humanity over the next decade. I’m humbled to play a role alongside the incredible Salk scientists who will undoubtedly continue to deliver incredible breakthroughs for the benefit of mankind,” says Waitt.

A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Waitt attended the universities of Colorado and Iowa and received an honorary doctorate of science from the University of South Dakota. He has earned a number of honors, among them the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Association and ranking as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed by Congress to serve on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. He retired from Gateway in 2004 and has devoted his time and resources to philanthropy since then.

Waitt has four grown children and resides in Southern California with his wife, Michele.

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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.