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Salk News

Salk professor Terrence Sejnowski elected to National Academy of Engineering

LA JOLLA, CA—Salk Institute professor Terry J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an honor considered one of the highest accolades in the engineering world. Dr. Sejnowski, whose work on neural networks helped spark the neural networks revolution in computing in the 1980s, is recognized for his “contributions to artificial and real neural network algorithms and applying signal processing models to neuroscience.”

Salk welcomes national leader in academic technology transfer

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert MacWright, Ph.D., Esq. as Executive Director of the Salk Institute Office of Technology Development. His appointment begins February 14, 2011.

Stem cell leader awarded $2.3 million grant for Parkinson’s

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute has been awarded a $2.3 million grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for translational research focusing on developing a novel stem cell based therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Cell reprogramming leaves a “footprint” behind

LA JOLLA, CA—Reprogramming adult cells to recapture their youthful “can-do-it-all” attitude appears to leave an indelible mark, found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. When the team, led by Joseph Ecker, PhD., a professor in the Genomic Analysis Laboratory, scoured the epigenomes of so-called induced pluripotent stem cells base by base, they found a consistent pattern of reprogramming errors.

Different evolutionary paths lead plants and animals to the same crossroads: tyrosine phosphorylation

LA JOLLA, CA—In analyzing the molecular sensor for the plant growth hormone brassinolide, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that although plants took an evolutionary path different from their animal cousins, they arrived at similar solutions to a common problem: How to reliably receive and process incoming signals.

At last, a function at the junction-Salk researchers discover that stem cell marker regulates synapse formation

LA JOLLA, CA—Among stem cell biologists there are few better-known proteins than nestin, whose very presence in an immature cell identifies it as a “stem cell,” such as a neural stem cell. As helpful as this is to researchers, until now no one knew which purpose nestin serves in a cell.

Conversion of brain tumor cells into blood vessels thwarts treatment efforts

LA JOLLA, CA—Glioblastoma, the most common and lethal form of brain cancer and the disease that killed Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, resists nearly all treatment efforts, even when attacked simultaneously on several fronts. One explanation can be found in the tumor cells’ unexpected flexibility, discovered researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Unlocking the secret(ase) of building neural circuits

LA JOLLA, CA—Mutant presenilin is infamous for its role in the most aggressive form of Alzheimer’s disease-early-onset familial Alzheimer’s-which can strike people as early as their 30s. In their latest study, researchers at the Salk Institute uncovered presenilin’s productive side: It helps embryonic motor neurons navigate the maze of chemical cues that pull, push and hem them in on their way to their proper targets. Without it, budding motor neurons misread their guidance signals and get stuck in the spinal cord.

Edward M. Callaway named 2010 AAAS Fellow

LA JOLLA, CA—Salk researcher Edward M. Callaway, a professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratories has been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow for his “distinguished research on the organization and function of neocortical circuits.”

When less is more: how mitochondrial signals extend lifespan

LA JOLLA, CA—In making your pro-longevity resolutions, like drinking more red wine and maintaining a vibrant social network, here’s one you likely forgot: dialing down your mitochondria. It turns out that slowing the engines of these tiny cellular factories could extend your life-an observation relevant not only to aging research but to our understanding of how cells communicate with each another.

Salk Institute and Sanford-Burnham study selected most-cited paper in Molecular Biology & Genetics

LA JOLLA, CA—A collaborative paper by John A.T. Young, Ph.D., Nomis Foundation professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., associate professor at Sanford-Burnham Institute, has been identified by Science Watch® as the most-cited paper in the category of Molecular Biology & Genetics and is currently featured as a Fast-Moving Front paper on their website.

How cells running on empty trigger fuel recycling

LA JOLLA, CA—Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered how AMPK, a metabolic master switch that springs into gear when cells run low on energy, revs up a cellular recycling program to free up essential molecular building blocks in times of need.

Feast, famine, and the genetics of obesity: you can’t have it both ways

LA JOLLA, CA—In addition to fast food, desk jobs, and inertia, there is one more thing to blame for unwanted pounds-our genome, which has apparently not caught up with the fact that we no longer live in the Stone Age.

Compound derived from curry spice is neuroprotective against stroke and traumatic brain injury

LA JOLLA, CA—A synthetic derivative of the curry spice turmeric, made by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, dramatically improves the behavioral and molecular deficits seen in animal models of ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Two new studies suggest that the novel compound may have clinical promise for these conditions, which currently lack good therapies.

The stemness of cancer cells

LA JOLLA, CA—A close collaboration between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study found that the tumor suppressor p53, long thought of as the “Guardian of the Genome,” may do more than thwart cancer-causing mutations. It may also prevent established cancer cells from sliding toward a more aggressive, stem-like state by serving as a “Guardian against Genome Reprogramming.”

Melanopsin looks on the bright side of life

LA JOLLA, CA—Better known as the light sensor that sets the body’s biological clock, melanopsin also plays an important role in vision: Via its messengers-so-called melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells, or mRGCs-it forwards information about the brightness of incoming light directly to conventional visual centers in the brain, reports an international collaboration of scientists in this week’s issue of PLoS Biology.

Salk Institute elects leaders in medicine and corporate law to Board of Trustees; names world-renowned cell biologist Non-Resident Fellow

LA JOLLA, CA—The Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies unanimously voted to elect Dr. Benjamin H. Lewis and Ms. Faye H. Russell as new members during its November 19 meeting in La Jolla.

Salk Institute announces $6 million gift from Irwin and Joan Jacobs to create The Renato Dulbecco Chair in Genomics and The Roger Guillemin Chair in Neuroscience

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies today announced the establishment of the Renato Dulbecco Chair in Genomics and the Roger Guillemin Chair in Neuroscience based on an endowment of $6 million from Irwin Jacobs, chairman of the Salk’s Board of Trustees, and his wife Joan Klein Jacobs.

Rett syndrome mobilizes jumping genes in the brain

LA JOLLA, CA–With few exceptions, jumping genes-restless bits of DNA that can move freely about the genome-are forced to stay put. In patients with Rett syndrome, however, a mutation in the MeCP2 gene mobilizes so-called L1 retrotransposons in brain cells, reshuffling their genomes and possibly contributing to the symptoms of the disease when they find their way into active genes, report researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Natural compound shows promise against Huntington’s disease

LA JOLLA, CA–Fisetin, a naturally occurring compound found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, slows the onset of motor problems and delays death in three models of Huntington’s disease, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The study, published in the online edition of Human Molecular Genetics, sets the stage for further investigations into fisetin’s neuroprotective properties in Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.