Executive Leadership Team
Gerald Joyce serves as the president of the Salk Institute. In addition, he is a professor in the Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics.
Joyce began his scientific career at Salk as a PhD student and then a postdoctoral scholar. He returned as a faculty member in 2017 and served as senior vice president and chief science officer from 2022 to 2023. His research program focuses on the development of novel RNA and DNA enzymes and their potential application in clinical diagnostics and therapeutics. His research has led to the development of the first self-replicating RNA enzyme that is capable of exponential growth and evolution.
From 2014 to 2021, Joyce served as the director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). He has served previously as dean of the faculty at Scripps Research, as chair of the JASON scientific advisory group for US national security, and as a member of the Technology Advisory Council of BP.
Joyce graduated with a BA from the University of Chicago in 1978 and both an MD and PhD from the University of California San Diego in 1984. He completed his postgraduate medical training at Mercy Hospital in San Diego and postdoctoral research training at the Salk Institute.
Vice President, People & CultureRead Biography
Sue Bacino is Vice President of People & Culture. She leads the Office of Human Resources (HR), Pre & Postdoctoral Office (PDO), and Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). She oversees the advancement of Salk’s mission through the recruiting, retention, and support of a diverse, world-class faculty and staff.
Prior to Salk, Bacino served as head of HR for a medical device company in Carlsbad, California. In that role—reporting to the CEO and serving as a key member of the leadership team—Bacino was responsible for the implementation of all HR-related processes and functions. Before that role, she held the same position at Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, where she partnered with scientific leadership on recruiting, engaging and retaining talent for this Novartis research site located in San Diego.
She has also served as executive director of HR for Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and she held various leadership positions at Vical Incorporated before Amylin. Her experience beyond the med-tech field includes serving as vice president of HR for Father Joe’s Villages and Breg, Inc.
Bacino earned her bachelor of arts at UC Davis.
Senior Vice President, Chief Science Officer
Jan Karlseder is Salk’s senior vice president and chief science officer (CSO). He is also a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, and the Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair for Research on Aging.
His lab is focused on telomeres—the caps at the ends of chromosomes that shorten as we get older. Telomeres regulate genome stability, inflammation, cancer initiation, and other crucial cell activities. Karlseder believes that a better understanding of telomere integrity and length regulation will lead to a deeper understanding of the aging process and age-related disease, as well as help uncover new ways to inhibit cancer.
Karlseder has received numerous awards and honors, including the V Foundation Award for Developing Scientists, a Forbeck Scholar Award, and the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging. He earned his BS in Biology at the University of Innsbruck and PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Vienna in Austria. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University in New York.
General CounselRead Biography
Julia Miller is the General Counsel of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She joined the Institute in January, 2010 and advises on a wide range of legal matters associated with the administration and management of the institute and in support of the scientific research mission, including contracts, intellectual property protection and technology transfer, legal proceedings, corporate governance, nonprofit, insurance, risk management and employment matters.
Miller serves as Corporate Secretary and is the management liaison for the Governance Committee of the Board, working with the Chair to manage the Committee’s responsibilities under its charter.
Prior to joining the institute, Miller was an attorney in the San Diego office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, practicing in the corporate department and, earlier in her career, in litigation. While at Paul Hastings, she focused on a wide range of business transactions and intellectual property matters for life science and technology clients. Miller has experience in intellectual property due diligence in merger and acquisition transactions and strategic counseling on various patent, trade secret and corporate matters. She also has represented clients in patent infringement litigation, patent license disputes and trade secret theft claims.
Miller holds a bachelor's degree in Cell Biology & Biochemistry from U.C. San Diego and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Boston University.
Vice President, External RelationsRead Biography
Bryan Robinson is the Salk Institute’s vice president of External Relations. He oversees the Institute’s stewardship, faculty relations, philanthropy, communications and community engagement.
Prior to Salk, Robinson served as the vice president for advancement and a senior member of the president’s executive committee at The Jackson Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Robinson also previously served as president of the UNCP Foundation, vice chancellor for advancement at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, senior assistant vice president and interim vice president at the University of Louisville, senior director of development and campaign planning at Indiana University, and a state government appointee in Indiana.
Robinson grew up in Kentucky and was the first in his family to attend college. He earned his undergraduate degree in pre-law studies and his master’s degree in education administration at the University of Louisville. He earned a PhD in education and social change at Bellarmine University, including field research on the impact of poverty on child and youth development at the University of Roehampton in London, UK.
Senior Vice President, Finance & AdministrationRead Biography
Kim Witmer is Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration of the Salk Institute. She oversees financial and administrative activities of the Salk, including financial reporting and treasury functions, research administration, annual budgets, procurement, IT, facilities/security, and endowment/investment management.
Witmer also acts as past President of AIRI, the Association of Independent Research Institutes, as well as serving on AIRI’s Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee. AIRI brings together nearly 100 independent, not-for-profit biomedical and behavioral research institutes whose mission is to enhance the ability of its members to improve human health and advance knowledge.
Additionally, Witmer currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM), and holds a position on SCRM’s Administrative Council as the Salk representative.
Prior to joining the Salk, Witmer worked for the international accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche. She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a BS in business administration from San Diego State University.