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Salk News

Keynote address at the University of Queensland’s international scientific conference

Salk President Elizabeth Blackburn was invited to present the keynote address at the University of Queensland last month on gender equity and diversity issues in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines. Blackburn is Australia’s first female Nobel laureate. Following her address, which received a positive audience response, she participated in a panel discussion on the barriers and challenges of women in science. Here is a transcript of her address:

Salk scientist Silvana Konermann named HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellow

LA JOLLA—Silvana Konermann, a research associate in the lab of Helmsley-Salk Fellow Patrick Hsu, was chosen as one of 15 inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna H. Gray Fellows. Each fellow will receive up to $1.4 million in funding over eight years.

The right way to repair DNA

LA JOLLA—Is it better to do a task quickly and make mistakes, or to do it slowly but perfectly? When it comes to deciding how to fix breaks in DNA, cells face the same choice between two major repair pathways. The decision matters, because the wrong choice could cause even more DNA damage and lead to cancer.

MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system

LA JOLLA—The immune system automatically destroys dysfunctional cells such as cancer cells, but cancerous tumors often survive nonetheless. A new study by Salk scientists shows one method by which fast-growing tumors evade anti-tumor immunity.

Partnership for a healthy brain

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute scientists have discovered that an interaction between two key proteins helps regulate and maintain the cells that produce neurons. The work, published in Cell Stem Cell on September 14, 2017, offers insight into why an imbalance between these precursor cells and neurons might contribute to mental illness or age-related brain disease.

Elizabeth Blackburn, Salk Institute’s first female president, honored by TIME as a trailblazing woman

LA JOLLA—Salk Institute President Elizabeth Blackburn—the Institute’s first female president and one of only 12 women to have won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine—is among 46 honorees featured in FIRSTS, a new TIME multimedia project celebrating “women who broke ground in their fields” and “played pioneers in history,” the Salk Institute announced today.

Salk computational neurobiologist receives NSF grant to study how brain processes sound

LA JOLLA—Salk Associate Professor Tatyana Sharpee has been awarded a grant of approximately $950,000 over 4 years by the National Science Foundation to study how the brain processes complex sounds. This grant is part of a multi-national project together with groups in France and Israel.

Protein turnover could be clue to living longer

LA JOLLA—It may seem paradoxical, but studying what goes wrong in rare diseases can provide useful insights into normal health. Researchers probing the premature aging disorder Hutchinson-Gilford progeria have uncovered an errant protein process in the disease that could help healthy people as well as progeria sufferers live longer.

New kinds of brain cells revealed

LA JOLLA—Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular methods to try to identify groups of neurons with different functions.

Salk neuroscientist receives new NSF award to model the brain

LA JOLLA—As part of the National Science Foundation’s funding for new multidisciplinary approaches to neuroscience, Salk Professor Terrence Sejnowski together with the California Institute of Technology will receive over $1 million over 3 years to pursue advanced modeling of the brain.

Early gene-editing success holds promise for preventing inherited diseases

LA JOLLA—Scientists have, for the first time, corrected a disease-causing mutation in early stage human embryos with gene editing. The technique, which uses the CRISPR-Cas9 system, corrected the mutation for a heart condition at the earliest stage of embryonic development so that the defect would not be passed on to future generations.

Salk teams part of new effort to advance understanding of brain structure

LA JOLLA—Two Salk neuroscience labs are part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) effort to better understand the brain. Salk Professors Terrence Sejnowski and Ed Callaway are each collaborators in multi-institute projects awarded over $9 million apiece.

Salk Institute scientist Reuben Shaw receives National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award

LA JOLLA—Salk Professor Reuben Shaw has received the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA), which encourages cancer research with breakthrough potential. Shaw, a member of Salk’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and holder of the William R. Brody Chair, will receive $4.2 million in direct funding over the next seven years to further his work. The award is granted, according to the NCI website, to innovative cancer researchers with outstanding records of productivity to allow them to take greater risks and be more adventurous in their research.

Salk scientists solve longstanding biological mystery of DNA organization

LA JOLLA—Stretched out, the DNA from all the cells in our body would reach Pluto. So how does each tiny cell pack a two-meter length of DNA into its nucleus, which is just one-thousandth of a millimeter across?

How plant architectures mimic subway networks

LA JOLLA—It might seem like a tomato plant and a subway system don’t have much in common, but both, it turns out, are networks that strive to make similar tradeoffs between cost and performance.

More evidence shows natural plant compound may reduce mental effects of aging

LA JOLLA—Salk scientists have found further evidence that a natural compound in strawberries reduces cognitive deficits and inflammation associated with aging in mice. The work, which appeared in the Journals of Gerontology Series A in June 2017, builds on the team’s previous research into the antioxidant fisetin, finding it could help treat age-related mental decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s or stroke.

How plants grow like human brains

LA JOLLA—Plants and brains are more alike than you might think: Salk scientists discovered that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout connections. The new work, published in Current Biology on July 6, 2017, and based on data from 3D laser scanning of plants, suggests there may be universal rules of logic governing branching growth across many biological systems.

Tilted microscopy technique better reveals protein structures

LA JOLLA—The conventional way of placing protein samples under an electron microscope during cryo-EM experiments may fall flat when it comes to getting the best picture of a protein’s structure. In some cases, tilting a sheet of frozen proteins—by anywhere from 10 to 50 degrees—as it lies under the microscope, gives higher quality data and could lead to a better understanding of a variety of diseases, according to new research led by Salk scientist Dmitry Lyumkis.

Getty Conservation Institute and Salk Institute announce completion of major conservation efforts

LA JOLLA-The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and Salk Institute for Biological Studies announced today that after four years, conservation efforts are complete for one of the key architectural elements at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California—its teak window walls. The site, completed in 1965 and designed by famed architect Louis I. Kahn, is widely considered to be a masterpiece of modern architecture. It is also home to globally renowned scientists making breakthroughs in areas of cancer, neuroscience, metabolism, plant science, genetics, and more.

Salk Institute establishes architecture endowment

LA JOLLA—The Institute announces today the launch of the Architecture Conservation Program, designed to address ongoing preservation of the nearly 60-year-old Modernist structure considered to be a masterwork of American architect Louis Kahn.