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Salk News


Shedding Light on the Latest Ravages of Polio in America: Salk Institute Launches Website for Polio Survivors

LA JOLLA, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies today officially launched PolioToday.org — a resource for polio survivors intended to raise awareness of the crippling post-polio syndrome (PPS), a serious neuromuscular condition that can strike an estimated 40-50 percent of people decades after they were first infected with the poliovirus.


The “S” stands for surprise: Anticoagulant plays unexpected role in maintaining circulatory integrity

LA JOLLA, CA—Protein S, a well-known anticoagulant protein, keeps the blood flowing in more than one way, discovered researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The protein contributes to the formation and function of healthy blood vessels.


Chemotherapy resistance: Checkpoint protein provides armor against cancer drugs

LA JOLLA, CA-Cell cycle checkpoints act like molecular tripwires for damaged cells, forcing them to pause and take stock. Leave the tripwire in place for too long, though, and cancer cells will press on regardless, making them resistant to the lethal effects of certain types of chemotherapy, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.


Remembering Chris Lamb

Chris Lamb, the Salk Institute’s first plant biologist, died suddenly August 21st at age 59 in Norwich, England.


Nicotinic Receptor May Help Trigger Alzheimer’s Disease

LA JOLLA, CA—For close to a decade, pharmaceutical researchers have been in hot pursuit of compounds to activate a key nicotine receptor that plays a role in cognitive processes. Triggering it, they hope, might prevent or even reverse the devastation wrought by Alzheimer’s disease.


Tumor suppressor pulls double shift as reprogramming watchdog

LA JOLLA, CA—A collaborative study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies uncovered that the tumor suppressor p53, which made its name as “guardian of the genome,” not only stops cells that could become cancerous in their tracks but also controls somatic cell reprogramming.


“Jumping genes” create diversity in human brain cells, offering clues to evolutionary and neurological disease

LA JOLLA, CA—Rather than sticking to a single DNA script, human brain cells harbor astonishing genomic variability, according to scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The findings, to be published in the Aug. 5, 2009, advance online edition of Nature, could help explain brain development and individuality, as well as lead to a better understanding of neurological disease.


New science of learning offers preview of tomorrow

LA JOLLA, CA—Of all the qualities that distinguish humans from other species, how we learn is one of the most significant. In the July 17, 2009 issue of the journal Science, researchers who are at the forefront of neuroscience, psychology, education, and machine learning have synthesized a new science of learning that is already reshaping how we think about learning and creating opportunities to re-imagine the classroom for the 21st century.


Timing is everything: Growth factor keeps brain development on track

LA JOLLA, CA—Just like a conductor cueing musicians in an orchestra, Fgf10, a member of the fibroblast growth factor (Ffg) family of morphogens, lets brain stem cells know that the moment to get to work has arrived, ensuring that they hit their first developmental milestone on time, report scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the July 16, 2009, edition of the journal Neuron.


Salk Institute establishes Presidential Chair to honor Qualcomm founder Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs

SAN DIEGO, CA—The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences today announced the establishment of the Irwin M. Jacobs Presidential Chair based on an endowment from Qualcomm and Qualcomm’s employees. The Presidential Chair commemorates Qualcomm founder Dr. Irwin Jacobs’ recent decision to step down as chairman of Qualcomm’s Board of Directors and recognizes his ongoing dedicated leadership of the Salk Institute’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Jacobs continues to serve as a member of Qualcomm’s Board of Directors and in that capacity continues to provide his vision and guidance.


NIH designates Salk Institute one of seven national basic research centers focused on vision

LA JOLLA, CA—A $3.8 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health places the Salk Institute among one of seven NEI-designated centers focused exclusively on the basic research of vision, and is the first basic science facility created by the NEI in nearly a decade.


Newborn brain cells show the way

LA JOLLA, CA—Although the fact that we generate new brain cells throughout life is no longer disputed, their purpose has been the topic of much debate. Now, an international collaboration of researchers made a big leap forward in understanding what all these newborn neurons might actually do. Their study, published in the July 10, 2009, issue of the journal Science, illustrates how these young cells improve our ability to navigate our environment.


The two faces of Mdmx: Why some tumors don’t respond to radiation and chemotherapy

LA JOLLA, CA—A tightly controlled system of checks and balances ensures that a powerful tumor suppressor called p53 keeps a tight lid on unchecked cell growth but doesn’t wreak havoc in healthy cells. In their latest study, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggest just how finely tuned the system is and how little it takes to tip the balance.


Salk Institute ranks top for “Highest Impact” research in Neuroscience and Behavior

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies garnered the top discovery spot in the latest international ranking in the category “Neuroscience and Behavior” by Science Watch, a scientific organization that measures the citation impact of research published worldwide. Citations are an important measure of the value and influence of scientists’ work and reflect the impact made by that work on scientific understanding.


Site for alcohol’s action in the brain discovered

LA JOLLA, CA—Alcohol’s inebriating effects are familiar to everyone. But the molecular details of alcohol’s impact on brain activity remain a mystery. A new study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies brings us closer to understanding how alcohol alters the way brain cells work.


Climbing the ladder to longevity: critical enzyme pair identified

LA JOLLA, CA-Experiment after experiment confirms that a diet on the brink of starvation expands lifespan in mice and many other species. But the molecular mechanism that links nutrition and survival is still poorly understood. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a pivotal role for two enzymes that work together to determine the health benefits of diet restriction.


The battle for CRTC2: how obesity increases the risk for diabetes

La Jolla, CA—Obesity is probably the most important factor in the development of insulin resistance, but science’s understanding of the chain of events is still spotty. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have filled in the gap and identified the missing link between the two. Their findings, to be published in the June 21, 2009 advance online edition of the journal Nature, explain how obesity sets the stage for diabetes and why thin people can become insulin-resistant.


Hungry cells: Tumor metabolism discovery opens new detection and treatment possibilities for rare form of colon cancer

LA JOLLA, CA-People who suffer from Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, a rare inherited cancer syndrome, develop gastrointestinal polyps and are predisposed to colon cancer and other tumor types. Carefully tracing the cellular chain-of-command that links nutrient intake to cell growth (and which is interrupted in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome), allowed researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to exploit the tumors’ weak spot.


Genetic Re-disposition: Combined stem cell-gene therapy approach cures human genetic disease in vitro

La Jolla, CA—A study led by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has catapulted the field of regenerative medicine significantly forward, proving in principle that a human genetic disease can be cured using a combination of gene therapy and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology. The study, published in the May 31, 2009 early online edition of Nature, is a major milestone on the path from the laboratory to the clinic.


Salk Scientist Inder Verma to Receive 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award from American Society of Gene Therapy

La Jolla, CA—Salk Professor Inder M. Verma, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading authorities on the development and use of engineered viruses for gene therapy, has been named the 2009 recipient of the American Society of Gene Therapy’s Outstanding Achievement Award. The award recognizes an ASGT member who has conducted groundbreaking research or achieved a lifetime of significant scientific contributions to the field of gene therapy. Verma is only the second scientist honored with the society’s Outstanding Achievement Award, which debuted in 2008.