Salk Institute receives Charity Navigator’s highest rating for twelfth consecutive time

For the twelfth consecutive time, the Salk Institute has earned the highest ranking—4 out of 4 stars—from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity and nonprofit evaluator. The coveted ranking indicates the Salk Institute has demonstrated strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, outperforming most other charities in the United States with respect to executing best fiscal practices and carrying out its mission in a financially efficient way.

Charity Navigator’s data-driven analysis of US charities provides philanthropists with a way to recognize nonprofits that provide greater accountability, transparency, and concrete results. Only 25 percent of organizations evaluated by Charity Navigator receive the 4 star rating. “We are honored to receive this highly regarded distinction and send our thanks to Charity Navigator for its unbiased assessment of the Salk Institute,” says Bryan Robinson, Salk’s vice president of External Relations. “What this means is that our supporters can be confident that their generosity truly drives our pursuit of high-impact science.”

Since receiving its previous 4 star rating from Charity Navigator in 2022, Salk’s philanthropy team has further bolstered its commitment to donors, adding positions dedicated to faculty relations, community engagement, stewardship, and fundraising to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion.

These commitments coincide with Salk’s seven-year, $750 million Campaign for Discovery: The Power of Science—an effort to attract the people and build the technology and space necessary for innovation in six critical areas: healthy aging, cancer, plant biology, computational biology, neuroscience, and immunobiology.

“We are delighted to provide the Salk Institute with third-party accreditation that validates their operational excellence,” says Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator. “The 4 star rating is the highest possible rating an organization can achieve. We are eager to see the good work that Salk is able to accomplish in the years ahead.”

Seven Salk scientists named among best and most highly cited researchers in the world

Salk Professors Joseph Ecker, Ronald Evans, Satchin Panda, Rusty Gage, and Kay Tye, as well as Assistant Professor Jesse Dixon and Research Assistant Joseph Nery, were named to the Highly Cited Researchers list by Clarivate. The 2023 list includes 6,849 researchers from 67 countries, all of whom demonstrate “significant and broad influence reflected in their publication of multiple highly cited papers over the last decade.”

Salk Institute Professor Ronald Evans honored with Japan Prize

Professor Ronald Evans was named the 2024 recipient of the Japan Prize in the field of Medical Science and Pharmaceutical Science. The Japan Prize Foundation awards this prestigious international award annually to “express Japan’s gratitude to international society.”

Evans is a professor, the director of the Gene Expression Laboratory, and holder of the March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology at Salk. His receipt of the Japan Prize recognizes his groundbreaking discovery of nuclear hormone receptors—a large family of molecules that respond to various steroid hormones, vitamin A, and thyroid hormones. These hormones help control sugar, salt, calcium, and fat metabolism, affecting our daily health, as well as treatment of disease. The receptors Evans discovered are now primary targets in the treatment of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia, as well as osteoporosis and asthma, and more than a dozen approved drugs have been developed using his technology to treat those conditions and more.

The Japan Prize Foundation honors individuals whose original and outstanding achievements in science and technology have advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for humankind. To date, 108 laureates from 14 countries have received the Japan Prize since the first prize was given in 1985. Each laureate receives a certificate of merit, a commemorative medal, and a monetary prize.

Evans has received such accolades as the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, the Keio Medical Science Prize, the Asan Award in Basic Medicine, and the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award, among many others. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine.

Salk researchers earn $1.3 million W. M. Keck Foundation award to study aging brain

Professor Rusty Gage and Assistant Professor Pallav Kosuri were awarded $1.3 million by the W. M. Keck Foundation to fund a novel investigation into the way brain and heart cell functions decline over time due to ribosubstitution events—cellular repair of DNA damage with RNA building blocks rather than DNA building blocks. The award combines the biological discovery of ribosubstitution made by Senior Research Associate Jeff Jones in Gage’s lab with the technological advancements established by Postdoctoral Researcher Yuening Liu in Kosuri’s lab. The W. M. Keck Foundation was established with the goal of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity by supporting outstanding science, engineering, and medical research.

“The imbalance between RNA and DNA in neurons and cardiomyocytes increases the likelihood of ribosubstitution events that weaken the integrity of DNA and that—we think—could be causing some of the irreversible damage we see accrue over time in the heart and the brain.”

–Pallav Kosuri

Salk Institute’s Terrence Sejnowski named Scientist of the Year by ARCS San Diego

The ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Students) San Diego chapter honored Terrence Sejnowski for his pioneering research in neural networks and computational neuroscience.

Sejnowski, who is head of Salk’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, holder of the Frances Crick Chair, and a distinguished professor at UC San Diego, has helped shape the fields of neuroeconomics, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, psychology, and artificial intelligence.

Each year, an ARCS committee of multiple members and the foundation’s president, aided by the advice of former honorees and scientific advisors in the community, makes a recommendation to its membership for the Scientist of the Year award. ARCS voted unanimously for Sejnowski to be its 2024 honoree.

“It is a singular honor to be chosen by ARCS as the Scientist of the Year, which also honors the remarkable computational advances being made by computer scientists and neuroscientists.”

–Terrence Sejnowski

Salk Institute welcomes San Diego philanthropist Amy Jacobs as new trustee

The Salk Institute Board of Trustees has appointed Amy Jacobs as its newest trustee. Jacobs brings to the Institute her experience as a philanthropist with an educational background in science. Since moving to San Diego 13 years ago, she has been active in supporting local Jewish organizations, the Jacobs Cushman San Diego Food Bank, and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, as well as housing and homelessness initiatives in San Diego. Additionally, Jacobs is a member of the Pauline Foster Women’s Leadership Institute and a former member of Forward Global (formerly the Philanthropy Workshop). She formally joined the Salk Board in April 2024.

Salk Fellows Program welcomes physicist Adam Bowman

The Salk Institute appointed Adam Bowman to the Salk Fellows Program, where he joined current Salk Fellow Talmo Pereira in March 2024. Bowman is an applied physicist who recently completed his PhD at Stanford University, and develops new technologies for optical microscopy. The Salk Fellows Program brings scientists from broad disciplines to the Institute to encourage innovation and perpetuate the Institute’s collaborative spirit.

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