LA JOLLA—Young children sometimes believe that the moon is following them, or that they can reach out and touch it. It appears to be much closer than is proportional to its true distance. As we move about our daily lives, we tend to think that we navigate space in a linear way. But Salk scientists have discovered that time spent exploring an environment causes neural representations to grow in surprising ways.
LA JOLLA—Numerous studies have shown health benefits of time-restricted eating including increase in life span in laboratory studies, making practices like intermittent fasting a hot topic in the wellness industry. However, exactly how it affects the body on the molecular level, and how those changes interact across multiple organ systems, has not been well understood. Now, Salk scientists show in mice how time-restricted eating influences gene expression across more than 22 regions of the body and brain. Gene expression is the process through which genes are activated and respond to their environment by creating proteins.
LA JOLLA—Obesity and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, are extremely common in the United States. Tiny proteins called microproteins have long been overlooked in research, but new evidence demonstrates that they have an important role in metabolism. Salk scientists have discovered that both brown and white fat is filled with thousands of previously unknown microproteins, and show that one of these microproteins, called Gm8773, can increase appetite in mice.
LA JOLLA—A drug developed by Salk Institute researchers acts like a master reset switch in the intestines. The compound, called FexD, has previously been found to lower cholesterol, burn fat, and ward off colorectal cancer in mice. Now, the team reports in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 12, 2022, that FexD can also prevent and reverse intestinal inflammation in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease.
LA JOLLA—Cancer, caused by abnormal overgrowth of cells, is the second-leading cause of death in the world. Researchers from the Salk Institute have zeroed in on specific mechanisms that activate oncogenes, which are altered genes that can cause normal cells to become cancer cells.
LA JOLLA—Despite decades of research, Alzheimer’s disease remains a debilitating and eventually fatal dementia with no effective treatment options. More than 95 percent of Alzheimer’s disease cases have no known origin. Now, scientists from the Salk Institute have found that neurons from people with Alzheimer’s disease show deterioration and undergo a late-life stress process called senescence. These neurons have a loss of functional activity, impaired metabolism, and increased brain inflammation.
LA JOLLA—Salk Professors Joseph Ecker, Ronald Evans, Rusty Gage, Christian Metallo, Satchidananda Panda, Reuben Shaw, and Kay Tye, along with Assistant Professor Jesse Dixon, have been named to the Highly Cited Researchers list by Clarivate. This year’s list includes 6,938 researchers from 69 countries and identifies researchers who demonstrate “significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers.” Ecker and Gage have been named to this list every year since 2014, when the regular annual rankings began. Joseph Nery, a research assistant II in the Ecker lab, was also included on the list.
LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute has named Luzilda “Lucy” Arciniega director of Diversity Strategies & Implementation, as the Institute continues to expand its focus on efforts that support recruitment, retention, leadership, and cultural connectivity throughout its vibrant campus.
LA JOLLA—When neurons involved in movement—called motor neurons—form, they must build connections that reach from the brain, brainstem, or spinal cord all the way to the head, arms, or the tips of the toes. How neurons navigate these systems and “decide” where and how to grow has largely been a mystery.
LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute recently lost a dear friend and former Trustee when Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen died on September 30, 2022.
LA JOLLA—Aging involves complicated plot twists and a large cast of characters: inflammation, stress, metabolism changes, and many others. Now, a team of Salk Institute and UC San Diego scientists reveal another factor implicated in the aging process—a class of lipids called SGDGs (3-sulfogalactosyl diacylglycerols) that decline in the brain with age and may have anti-inflammatory effects.
LA JOLLA—Charles F. “Chuck” Stevens, distinguished professor emeritus in Salk’s Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, died peacefully on October 21, 2022, at his home in San Diego. He was 88.
LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Assistant Professor Christina Towers has received a $1.15 million Science Diversity Leadership Award from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The award recognizes outstanding early- to mid-career researchers who have made significant research contributions to the biomedical sciences, show promise for continuing scientific achievement, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in their scientific fields.
LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute welcomes Assistant Professor Deepshika Ramanan, an innovative researcher studying how the maternal immune system changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding and affects immunity and inflammation in babies across multiple generations. Ramanan will join Salk’s NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis.
LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute’s American Cancer Society Professor Tony Hunter, Professor Reuben Shaw, and Assistant Professor Graham McVicker are among 12 inaugural 2022 Discovery Grant winners. The awards, which total $3 million, were launched this year by Curebound, a philanthropic organization dedicated to funding collaborative cancer research that has the potential to reach the clinic.
LA JOLLA—The San Diego Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, a collaboration between the Salk Institute, UC San Diego, and Sanford Burnham Prebys, received new funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to enroll participants from the Rancho Bernardo Study of Healthy Aging into their own clinical cohort to study differences in how individuals age. Initiated 50 years ago by the late UC San Diego Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, the Rancho Bernardo Study is one of the longest, continuously NIH-funded studies in existence.
LA JOLLA—Salk Institute Professor Geoffrey Wahl has received the 2022 Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science from Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization. According to the foundation, the award recognizes leading scientists who have made the most significant advances in breast cancer research and medicine. Wahl was honored for his significant contributions to the field of cancer genetics, including the mechanisms of drug resistance and genome stability. He will present a keynote lecture at the 45th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in early December 2022.
LA JOLLA—Firefighters are the heroes of our society, protecting us around the clock. But those 24-hour shifts are hard on the body and increase the risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as cancer. In collaboration with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, scientists from the Salk Institute and UC San Diego Health conducted a clinical trial and found that time-restricted eating improved measures of health and wellbeing in firefighters. The lifestyle intervention only required the firefighters to eat during a 10-hour window and did not involve skipping meals.
LA JOLLA—Clay vessels of innumerable shapes and sizes come to life as they illuminate a rich history of symbolic meanings and identity. Some museum visitors may lean in to get a better view, while others converse with their friends over the rich hues. Exhibition designers have long wondered how the human brain senses, perceives, and learns in the rich environment of a museum gallery.
LA JOLLA—With a five-year, $126 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a team led by Salk Institute scientists has launched a new Center for Multiomic Human Brain Cell Atlas. Part of the NIH’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative, the project aims to describe the cells that make up the human brain in unprecedented molecular detail, classify brain cells into more precise subtypes, and pinpoint the location of each cell in the brain. What’s more, the team will track how these features change from early to late life.