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Salk Professors Susan Kaech and Alan Saghatelian named 2020 AAAS Fellows

LA JOLLA—Salk Professors Susan Kaech and Alan Saghatelian have been named 2020 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Kaech and Saghatelian are among 489 new AAAS Fellows who were nominated by their peers for their distinguished efforts to advance science.


Five Salk professors named among most highly cited researchers in the world

LA JOLLA—Salk Professors Joanne Chory, Joseph Ecker, Rusty Gage, Reuben Shaw and Kay Tye have been named to the Highly Cited Researchers list by Clarivate. The list identifies researchers who demonstrate “significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers.” Professors Chory, Ecker and Gage have been named to this list every year since 2014, when the regular annual rankings began. This is Professor Tye’s fourth consecutive time and Professor Shaw’s second consecutive time receiving the designation. Joseph Nery, a research assistant II in the Ecker lab, was also included on the list.


Bezos Earth Fund donates $30 million to Salk Institute for innovative climate change research

LA JOLLA—Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI) will receive $30 million from the Bezos Earth Fund to advance efforts to increase the ability of crop plants, such as corn and soybeans, to capture and store atmospheric carbon via their roots in the soil. This work will explore carbon-sequestration mechanisms in six of the world’s most prevalent crop species with the goal of increasing the plants’ carbon-storage capacity. It complements an ongoing HPI project focused on identifying genes for increased carbon sequestration in model plants and then utilizing those genes to enhance carbon sequestration in crops.


Salk appoints Jesse Dixon as assistant professor

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute has appointed molecular biologist Jesse Dixon to the rank of assistant professor for his significant work in uncovering how the human genome, the DNA blueprint for life, is organized in three-dimensional space inside of cells. The appointment was based on recommendations by Salk faculty, and approved by Salk President Rusty Gage and the Institute’s Board of Trustees.


Salk Institute and Sempra Energy announce project to advance plant-based carbon capture and storage research

SAN DIEGO and LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute and Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) today announced a new project to advance plant-based carbon capture and sequestration research, education and implementation to help address the climate crisis. Sempra Energy is donating $2 million to the Salk Institute to help fund the five-year project.


Honoring the memory of Jonas Salk, polio vaccine inventor, on his 106th birthday anniversary, during the COVID-19 pandemic

LA JOLLA—As people across the world anxiously await the promise of an effective vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 220,000 Americans and more than 1.1 million globally, it is important to remember a time when the world faced similar challenges and, through scientific research, found answers that changed the course of history. On October 28, the Salk Institute honors the accomplishments of our founder, Jonas Salk, on his 106th birthday.


San Diego research community: ICE proposal threatens scientific progress

Next week, the Department of Homeland Security will review the contents of a proposal, ICEB-2019-0006, issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE), that seeks to limit the stay of an international scholar in the US to either two or four years. The potentially devastating impact of this proposal, if implemented, is of such magnitude that the undersigned leaders of San Diego’s biomedical research institutions are standing together to voice alarm.


Salk Assistant Professor Dannielle Engle awarded over $1 million to study impact of tobacco use on pancreatic cancer

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Assistant Professor Dannielle Engle has been awarded a New Investigator Award from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) to examine how tobacco use promotes cellular changes that lead to pancreatic cancer. The TRDRP funds research that “enhances understanding of tobacco use, prevention and cessation, the social, economic and policy-related aspects of tobacco use, and tobacco-related diseases in California,” according to their website. Engle will receive over $1 million over three years to develop new models for examining how tobacco carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) lead to tumor development and metastasis.


Salk Institute and BridgeBio Pharma collaborate to advance therapies for genetically driven disease

LA JOLLA and PALO ALTO, Calif.—The Salk Institute and BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: BBIO) today announced a three-year collaboration agreement formed to advance cutting-edge academic discoveries in genetically driven diseases toward therapeutic applications. Under the partnership, BridgeBio will help fund research programs from Salk’s world-renowned innovative cancer research, with the eventual goal of developing new therapeutics for patients in need.


In Memoriam: Paul F. Glenn

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.


Traveling brain waves help detect hard-to-see objects

LA JOLLA—Imagine that you’re late for work and desperately searching for your car keys. You’ve looked all over the house but cannot seem to find them anywhere. All of a sudden you realize your keys have been sitting right in front of you the entire time. Why didn’t you see them until now?


Salk physician-scientist Edward Stites receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Assistant Professor Edward Stites has been named an NIH Director’s New Innovator for 2020 as part of the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. The award “supports unusually innovative research from early career investigators,” according to the NIH and provides $1.5 million for a 5-year project. For his project, Stites will use mathematical and biological approaches to identify strategies to convert failed therapeutics into effective agents.


Joanne Chory wins the 2020 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

Joanne Chory, who pioneered the application of molecular genetics to plant biology and transformed our understanding of photosynthesis, will receive the 2020 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, Rockefeller’s preeminent award recognizing outstanding women scientists. Chory is the Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology and director of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory at The Salk Institute. She is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Frances Beinecke, former president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will present the prize in a virtual ceremony hosted by Rockefeller on October 22.


Top San Diego research institutions, led by Salk, to receive an expected $5 million to study cellular aging in humans

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute will establish a world-class San Diego Nathan Shock Center (SD-NSC), a consortium with Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego), to study cellular and tissue aging in humans. The Center will be funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health expected to total $5 million over the next 5 years (NIA grant number P30AG068635).


Common diabetes drug reverses inflammation in the liver

LA JOLLA—The diabetes drug metformin—derived from a lilac plant that’s been used medicinally for more than a thousand years—has been prescribed to hundreds of millions of people worldwide as the frontline treatment for type 2 diabetes. Yet scientists don’t fully understand how the drug is so effective at controlling blood glucose.


Method to derive blood vessel cells from skin cells suggests ways to slow aging

LA JOLLA—Salk scientists have used skin cells called fibroblasts from young and old patients to successfully create blood vessels cells that retain their molecular markers of age. The team’s approach, described in the journal eLife on September 8, 2020, revealed clues as to why blood vessels tend to become leaky and hardened with aging, and lets researchers identify new molecular targets to potentially slow aging in vascular cells.


First immune-evading cells created to treat type 1 diabetes

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute scientists have made a major advance in the pursuit of a safe and effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, an illness that impacts an estimated 1.6 million Americans with a cost of $14.4 billion annually.


Longtime Salk Professor David Schubert passes at the age of 77

LA JOLLA—Renowned cell biologist and Salk Professor David Schubert passed away on August 6 at the age of 77 in La Jolla, California. He was known for the development of novel screening techniques that allowed his team to identify naturally occurring chemicals that can slow or prevent the neurological damage that occurs in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.


Imaging method highlights new role for cellular “skeleton” protein

LA JOLLA—While your skeleton helps your body to move, fine skeleton-like filaments within your cells likewise help cellular structures to move. Now, Salk researchers have developed a new imaging method that lets them monitor a small subset of these filaments, called actin.


New molecule reverses Alzheimer’s-like memory decline

LA JOLLA—A drug candidate developed by Salk researchers, and previously shown to slow aging in brain cells, successfully reversed memory loss in a mouse model of inherited Alzheimer’s disease. The new research, published online in July 2020 in the journal Redox Biology, also revealed that the drug, CMS121, works by changing how brain cells metabolize fatty molecules known as lipids.