Before concrete was poured into a single mold, Jonas Salk had a clear vision for what he wanted to create when he established the Salk Institute. He dreamed of a unique place where the world’s top scientists would collaborate across disciplines in pursuit of answers to some of the most difficult challenges facing humankind. Salk’s vision would inform his partnership with architect Louis Kahn to design and build an institute “worthy of a visit from Picasso.”
For Kahn, his famous client’s vision of how science should be pursued shaped many aspects of his architectural designs for the Institute, from the laboratories free of permanent, internal walls to the chalkboards located in the staircase landings. The iconic courtyard, inspired by Luis Barragán, would serve not only as a destination for reflection, appreciation and inspiring views but also the very practical purpose of drawing scientists out of their labs to interact with one another.
Today, nearly 60 years since the Institute opened its doors, our culture of collaboration is stronger than ever, as detailed in the following pages of Inside Salk. We examine the collaborative work of several teams of scientists at Salk tackling some of the most critical issues of our time, including pancreatic cancer and climate change. You’ll also hear from one of our newest faculty members, Professor Kay Tye, on her fascinating research into the brain and what drives her passion for science.
In this issue, we also inaugurate a new section in which we profile a staff scientist at Salk. Staff scientists are instrumental to the work that unfolds in the labs at Salk and play an important role in our shared success. Our first profile will introduce you to Travis Berggren, a senior staff scientist who provides institutional oversight for all shared scientific resources at the Institute, including Salk’s core facilities, which were established to share and provide access to technologies to further the scientific research done here.
Jonas’ foundational principle of collaboration is a defining part of the Institute’s culture and success. Scientific researchers, community partners, and passionate supporters share a vision of a world where the answers to conquering cancer, mitigating climate change, preventing Alzheimer’s and tackling other challenges are within reach. Together, we can make strides to a better and healthier world for all of us.
Fred H. Gage
President, Salk Institute