April 29, 2003
La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute Professor Fred H. Gage has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The election was held April 29 during the business session of the 140th annual meeting of the Academy. Election to membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.
Gage is the Vi and John Adler Professor in the laboratory of genetics at the Salk Institute. A leading neuroscientist, Gage concentrates on the adult central nervous system and the unexpected plasticity and adaptability that remain throughout the life of all mammals. His work may lead to methods of replacing brain tissue lost to stroke or Alzheimer’s disease and repairing spinal cords damaged by trauma.
Gage’s research has shown that, contrary to years of dogma, humans are capable of growing new nerve cells within their brains throughout life. Small populations of immature nerve cells exist in the adult brain, and Gage is working to understand how these cells can be induced to become mature nerve cells. One goal would be to use these cells to replace brain and spinal cord nerve cells that are damaged by injury or disease. Gage’s research team has already shown that physical exercise can enhance the growth of new brain cells, and they are examining the underlying molecular mechanisms behind this idea.
“Fred H. Gage has made important contributions to our understanding of stem cells in the brain and to neuroscience in general. We are extremely pleased that he has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, an honor he richly deserves,” said Richard Murphy, president and CEO of the Salk Institute. Currently, 13 of the Salk Institute’s 56 faculty members are members of the National Academy.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, located in La Jolla, Calif., is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and conditions, and the training of future generations of researchers. The institute was founded in 1960 by Jonas Salk, M.D., with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.