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Salk Institute’s Terrence Sejnowski awarded Gruber Prize

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Professor Terrence Sejnowski has been awarded the 2022 Gruber Neuroscience Prize by the Gruber Foundation for his “pioneering contributions to computational and theoretical neuroscience.” He shares the $500,000 award with Larry Abbott of Columbia University, Emery Neal Brown of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Haim Sompolinsky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Harvard University.


Salk Institute hosts Louis Vuitton fashion show

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute was proud to host French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton and guests on May 12 for a private fashion show presenting the brand’s Cruise 2023 collection. The show was the first event of its kind to be held at the Institute.


Salk Institute welcomes biopharmaceutical executive Carol Gallagher as new trustee

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute Board of Trustees welcomes its newest member, Carol Gallagher. Chaired by Marna C. Whittington, the Salk Board helps drive the direction of the world-renowned biological research facility founded by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk in 1960.


Why hungry worms take risks

LA JOLLA–Whether it’s making rash decisions or feeling grumpy, hunger can make us think and act differently—“hangry,” even. But little is known about how hunger signals in the gut communicate with the brain to change behavior. Now, Salk scientists are using worms as a model to examine the molecular underpinnings and help explain how hunger makes an organism sacrifice comfort and make risky decisions to get a meal.


Cellular regeneration therapy restores damaged liver tissue faster than ever

LA JOLLA—Mammals can’t typically regenerate organs as efficiently as other vertebrates, such as fish and lizards. Now, Salk scientists have found a way to partially reset liver cells to more youthful states—allowing them to heal damaged tissue at a faster rate than previously observed. The results, published in Cell Reports on April 26, 2022, reveal that the use of reprogramming molecules can improve cell growth, leading to better liver tissue regeneration in mice.


An ocean in your brain: interacting brain waves key to how we process information

LA JOLLA—For years, the brain has been thought of as a biological computer that processes information through traditional circuits, whereby data zips straight from one cell to another. While that model is still accurate, a new study led by Salk Professor Thomas Albright and Staff Scientist Sergei Gepshtein shows that there’s also a second, very different way that the brain parses information: through the interactions of waves of neural activity. The findings, published in Science Advances on April 22, 2022, help researchers better understand how the brain processes information.


The protein that keeps the pancreas from digesting itself

LA JOLLA—Every day, your pancreas produces about one cup of digestive juices, a mixture of molecules that can break down the food you eat. But if these powerful molecules become activated before they make their way to the gut, they can damage the pancreas itself—digesting the very cells that created them, leading to the painful inflammation known as pancreatitis, and predisposing a person to pancreatic cancer.


Salk Institute mourns the loss of Distinguished Professor Emerita Ursula Bellugi

LA JOLLA—Ursula Bellugi, Distinguished Professor Emerita and Founder’s Chair at the Salk Institute, 2008 inductee to the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, died peacefully on April 17, 2022, in La Jolla, CA, at the age of 91.


How obesity can rewire the immune system and the response to immunotherapy—and how to change that

LA JOLLA—When mice with atopic dermatitis—a common type of allergic skin inflammation—are treated with drugs that target the immune system, their thickened, itchy skin generally heals quickly. But scientists have now discovered that the same treatment in obese mice makes their skin worse, instead. That is because obesity changes the molecular underpinnings of allergic inflammation, both in mice and humans.


Richard Murphy, former Salk Institute president and CEO, dies at 77

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute mourns the loss of Richard “Rich” Murphy, who died March 24, 2022, in La Quinta, California at the age of 77. Murphy served as the Institute’s president and CEO from 2000 to 2007.


Salk scientist Tony Hunter receives 2022 AACR Lifetime Achievement Award in Cancer Research

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Professor Tony Hunter will receive the 2022 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research at the April annual meeting of AACR, the largest cancer research organization in the world dedicated to preventing and curing all cancers. This major award is a significant recognition of Hunter’s contributions to cancer research, which have led to the development of the highly effective leukemia drug GleevecTM.


Statement on the Current Operations at the Salk Institute

The Salk Institute is currently closed to the public. The Institute continues to monitor the status of the pandemic and expects to reopen the Salk campus at a later date. Please check back for updates.


Salk Institute appoints Sue Bacino Vice President of Human Resources

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute announced today the appointment of Sue Bacino as Vice President of Human Resources (HR) to advance the overall mission of Salk through the acquisition, retention and support of a diverse, world-class faculty and staff.


How the brain encodes social rank and “winning mindset”

LA JOLLA—If you’re reaching for the last piece of pizza at a party and see another hand going for it at the same time, your next move probably depends both on how you feel and whom the hand belongs to. Your little sister—you might go ahead and grab the pizza. Your boss—you’re probably more likely to step back and give up the slice. But if you’re hungry and feeling particularly confident, you might go for it.


Salk scientists receive 2022 Mark Foundation Endeavor Award to study lung cancer

LA JOLLA—Professors Reuben Shaw, Susan Kaech, Christian Metallo and Alan Saghatelian have received a 2022 Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Endeavor Award to support their research exploring the metabolic changes that help lung cancers develop. The $3 million Endeavor Award promotes collaborative science to tackle some of the toughest challenges in cancer research. The Salk team—one of four teams chosen out of nearly 200 applications submitted by institutions around the world—hopes their work will lead to the development of more effective lung cancer treatments.


New technology enables unprecedented glimpse inside single brain cells

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute researchers have developed a new genomic technology to simultaneously analyze the DNA, RNA and chromatin—a combination of DNA and protein—from a single cell. The method, which took five years to develop, is an important step forward for large collaborations where multiple teams are working simultaneously to classify thousands of new cell types. The new technology, published in Cell Genomics on March 9, 2022, will help streamline analyses.


Cellular rejuvenation therapy safely reverses signs of aging in mice

LA JOLLA—Age may be just a number, but it’s a number that often carries unwanted side effects, from brittle bones and weaker muscles to increased risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute, in collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche group, have shown that they can safely and effectively reverse the aging process in middle-aged and elderly mice by partially resetting their cells to more youthful states.


Tiny worms make complex decisions, too

LA JOLLA—How does an animal make decisions? Scientists have spent decades trying to answer this question by focusing on the cells and connections of the brain that might be involved. Salk scientists are taking a different approach—analyzing behavior, not neurons. They were surprised to find that worms can take multiple factors into account and choose between two different actions, despite having only 302 neurons compared to approximately 86 billion in humans.


Salk Professor Martyn Goulding wins Brain Prize

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Professor Martyn Goulding will receive the 2022 Brain Prize for pioneering research on the neuronal circuits that control movement, the Lundbeck Foundation announced today.


Salk Institute mourns the passing of Paul Farmer, champion of global health equity

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute mourns the loss of Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, a champion of global health equity and recipient of the inaugural Salk Institute Medal for Health and Humanity in 2005 (now known as the Salk Medal for Public Service). Farmer died in his sleep in Rwanda on February 21. He was co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health, an international non-profit organization that provides health care, infrastructure and advocacy for the communities that need it most. He was also professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.