President's Letter

When someone mentions the Salk Institute, many people likely think of the scientific breakthroughs that have consistently emerged from our labs over the past six decades.

While for others, it may be the majestic, iconic research towers high atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the Institute being one of the world’s most renowned architectural sites.

And for still others, it’s the people of Salk who make the Institute as a whole a special place.

I’ll admit, when we had this discussion internally this summer, the answers to what makes Salk special were numerous. That’s why, for me, the correct answer is all of these things and much more make Salk the truly unique and special place it is. From our exceptional history and visionary architectural design to the trailblazing scientists who have collaborated on big ideas and pursued answers to the very foundations of life over the last 60-plus years, every ingredient has made the Salk Institute unique among elite research institutions. Sadly, we lost two of our trailblazing scientists in recent months: Distinguished Professor Emerita Ursula Bellugi and Professor Emeritus Walter Eckhart. I hope you enjoy the tribute to Ursula in this issue of Inside Salk; the next issue will feature Walter. Both helped shape Salk into what it is today, and they will be missed.

In this issue we also take a deep dive into the elements that make the Institute so special and how these ingredients prime Salk for massive future success in the face of numerous formidable challenges facing people and the planet.

Additionally, Research Professor Margarita Behrens talks about her work toward understanding neural circuit formation and disruption. We also explore how Julie Auger, executive director of Research Operations, is shaping Salk’s science through shared resources, and we detail how Postdoctoral Fellow Gaurav Mendiratta is using math to solve some of the hardest biological problems.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that we are reaching the final deadline to take advantage of the tremendous generosity Joan and Irwin Jacobs have shown the Institute. As you’ll remember, the Jacobs committed up to $100 million in matching funds to finance the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Science and Technology Center. We have until September 30, 2022, to raise $200 million in order to secure their $100 million gift. Please consider supporting Salk’s Campaign and joining us for the next phase of our growth.

The future of Salk science is bright, as you will see in this issue. I want to take the opportunity to again thank you for your loyal and generous support as we blaze more trails of scientific discovery.


Fred H. Gage
President, Salk Institute

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