One of the most enjoyable parts of my work at Salk is the opportunity to meet and talk with our supporters about the research under way at the Institute. Their passion about and understanding of the importance of the work done at Salk are infectious, and I leave those meetings with a renewed energy for the work before me.
Between the pages of this issue of Inside Salk you will find the 2019 Salk Donor Honor Roll, our annual acknowledgment and appreciation of those who have supported our work in the last fiscal year. Along with a summary report of the Institute’s fiscal health, you will find more than 1,200 names of individuals, families, organizations and businesses who have helped make the 2019 fiscal year (July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019) so successful. To each of you who have been our partners, I extend my deepest appreciation on behalf of the Salk community and thank you for helping us achieve one of the most successful fundraising years in our history.
Your impact on scientific discovery at Salk has been tremendous.
Over the last year, your support has resulted in dozens of discoveries made in labs across the Institute that have advanced our knowledge of cancer, aging, plant biology, immunology, neuroscience, computational biology and genetics, among others. Donor support has enabled progress on our strategic initiatives to conquer five of the most deadly cancers, develop plants capable of absorbing an increasing share of carbon from the atmosphere, and explore the role cells in the brain play in aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s—all discoveries that will have an impact on our future.
New technologies have helped advance scientific research yielding vast amounts of data while providing new opportunities for discovery. We explore the growing role of “big data” in this issue of Inside Salk and dig deeper into the benefits as well as potential pitfalls. We also follow Professor Joseph Noel into the wetlands of the San Dieguito Lagoon and learn how the son of a coal miner emerged as a passionate champion of using science—and plants—in the fight against climate change. His story is one of several you will read in the pages of this edition, along with reports on the latest discoveries from Salk labs.
While this time of year is often characterized by reflection and contemplation, it is also a time of anticipation and excitement for what lies ahead. This is particularly true for all of us at the Institute as we make plans to celebrate our 60th anniversary over the next twelve months. What started as a vision in our founder’s mind has emerged as a world-renowned basic scientific research institute making discoveries that seek to understand who we are as human beings, developing therapies for devastating diseases and specifically aiming to change the world for the better. Within the labs, studies and courtyard of this architectural masterwork, Salk scientists continue the pursuit of answers to some of our most challenging problems.
As we continue to pave the way toward new knowledge, I want to thank all of you for your support, interest and dedication. May the new year bring you good health and happiness.
Fred H. Gage
President, Salk Institute