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Salk News


Seeing without looking

LA JOLLA, CA—Like a spotlight that illuminates an otherwise dark scene, attention brings to mind specific details of our environment while shutting others out. A new study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies shows that the superior colliculus, a brain structure that primarily had been known for its role in the control of eye and head movements, is crucial for moving the mind’s spotlight.


Mobilizing the repair squad: Critical protein helps mend damaged DNA

LA JOLLA, CA—In order to preserve our DNA, cells have developed an intricate system for monitoring and repairing DNA damage. Yet precisely how the initial damage signal is converted into a repair response remains unclear. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have now solved a crucial piece of the complex puzzle.


Delaying the aging process protects against Alzheimer’s disease

LA JOLLA, CA—Aging is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. In their latest study, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that simply slowing the aging process in mice prone to develop Alzheimer’s disease prevented their brains from turning into a neuronal wasteland.


Salk Institute receives $4.4M NIH Recovery Act grant to build state-of-the-art data center; Award is one of two in California

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has received a $4.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to build a state-of-the-art data center that will dramatically increase its research computing power for the next decade.


Harvard and Stanford Scientists join Salk Institute’s Non-Resident Fellows

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute has named two highly accomplished, world-renowned scientists from the stem cell and genomics research fields to join its faculty as Non-Resident Fellows.


Feeding the clock

LA JOLLA, CA—When you eat may be just as vital to your health as what you eat, found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Their experiments in mice revealed that the daily waxing and waning of thousands of genes in the liver—the body’s metabolic clearinghouse—is mostly controlled by food intake and not by the body’s circadian clock as conventional wisdom had it.


Salk Institute Board of Trustees elects leaders in venture capital and publishing to its membership

LA JOLLA, CA—The Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies unanimously voted to elect three new members during its November 13 meeting in La Jolla.


Salk recruits three top scientists in Immunobiology, Biophotonics and Neuroscience

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has recruited three assistant professors who exemplify the next generation of leading international scientists hired to forge new research territory and to build on existing investigative areas at the Institute.


Salk technology at the heart of gene therapy success

LA JOLLA, CA—Using a gene therapy delivery system developed in the laboratory of Inder Verma at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, an international team of researchers successfully treated two children with adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD, in which the fatty insulation of nerve cells degenerates. The genetic disorder leads to progressive brain damage and results in death within two to five years after diagnosis.


Unraveling the mechanisms behind organ regeneration in zebrafish

LA JOLLA, CA—The search for the holy grail of regenerative medicine—the ability to “grow back” a perfect body part when one is lost to injury or disease—has been under way for years, yet the steps involved in this seemingly magic process are still poorly understood.


Salk Institute scientist receives $15.6 million CIRM Disease Team Award to develop novel stem-cell derived therapy for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute has been awarded a $10.8 million grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for translational research focusing on developing a novel stem-cell based therapy for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


Salk scientist receives The Sontag Foundation’s Distinguished Scientist Award

LA JOLLA, CA—Dr. Clodagh O’Shea, an assistant professor in the Molecular Cell and Biology Laboratory, has been selected by The Sontag Foundation to receive the 2009 Distinguished Scientist Award. She will receive $600,000 over a four-year period to develop new viral therapies to treat invariably fatal glioblastomas and other brain tumors.


Salk scientist has been elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization

LA JOLLA, CA—Dr. Fred H. Gage, a professor in the Laboratory for Genetics at the Salk Institute and the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases, is one of only three Americans elected an Associate Member to the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2009.


The food-energy cellular connection revealed: Metabolic master switch sets the biological clock in body tissues

LA JOLLA, CA—Our body’s activity levels fall and rise to the beat of our internal drums-the 24-hour cycles that govern fundamental physiological functions, from sleeping and feeding patterns to the energy available to our cells. Whereas the master clock in the brain is set by light, the pacemakers in peripheral organs are set by food availability. The underlying molecular mechanism was unknown.


What drives our genes? Salk researchers map the first complete human epigenome

LA JOLLA, CA—Although the human genome sequence faithfully lists (almost) every single DNA base of the roughly 3 billion bases that make up a human genome, it doesn’t tell biologists much about how its function is regulated. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute provide the first detailed map of the human epigenome, the layer of genetic control beyond the regulation inherent in the sequence of the genes themselves.


Genetics of Patterning the Cerebral Cortex: How stem cells yield functional regions in “gray matter”

LA JOLLA, CA—The cerebral cortex, the largest and most complex component of the brain, is unique to mammals and alone has evolved human specializations. Although at first all stem cells in charge of building the cerebral cortex—the outermost layer of neurons commonly referred to as gray matter—are created equal, soon they irrevocably commit to forming specific cortical regions. But how the stem cells’ destiny is determined has remained an open question.


Salk Scientist Wins 2009 Aging Research Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation

La Jolla, CA—Dr. Martin Hetzer, Hearst Endowment associate professor in the Salk Institute’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, has received a 2009 Senior Scholar Award in Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation. He will receive $150,000 a year for four years to study the mechanisms at work in nuclear pore complexes, channels that mediate molecular traffic between the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells.


Salk Non-Resident Fellow Honored with Nobel Prize for the Discovery of Telomerase

LA JOLLA, CA—Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California in San Francisco and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies since 2001, will receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine/Physiology for “the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase,” the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden announced today.


Umbilical cord blood as a readily available source for off-the-shelf, patient-specific stem cells

LA JOLLA, CA—Umbilical cord blood cells can successfully be reprogrammed to function like embryonic stem cells, setting the basis for the creation of a comprehensive bank of tissue-matched, cord blood-derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for off-the-shelf applications, report researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Center for Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona, Spain.


Rising above the din: Attention makes sensory signals stand out amidst the background noise in the brain

LA JOLLA, CA—The brain never sits idle. Whether we are awake or asleep, watch TV or close our eyes, waves of spontaneous nerve signals wash through our brains. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies studying visual attention have discovered a novel mechanism that explains how incoming sensory signals make themselves heard amidst the constant background rumblings so they can be reliably processed and passed on.