Insect-eating plants have fascinated biologists for more than a century, but how plants evolved the ability to capture and consume live prey has largely remained a mystery. Professor Joanne Chory, Staff Scientist Carl Procko, and colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis have found evidence that plant carnivory evolved from mechanisms plants use to defend themselves. The findings broaden scientists’ understanding of how plants interact with their environments.
Discovery advances the potential of gene therapy to restore hearing loss
Sensory hair cells in the inner ear use long, hair-like structures called stereocilia to transduce sound. In the absence of the protein EPS8, stereocilia are too short to function, leading to deafness. Assistant Research Professor Uri Manor and colleagues from the University of Sheffield found that delivery of EPS8 can rescue stereocilia elongation and function in mice affected by the loss of EPS8. Their study shows promise for the development of gene therapies to repair hearing loss.
Surprising link between mitochondrial DNA and increased atherosclerosis risk
Mitochondria are known as cells’ powerhouses, but mounting evidence suggests they also play a role in inflammation. Professor Gerald Shadel and colleagues from UC San Diego examined human blood cells and discovered a surprising link between mitochondria, inflammation, and DNMT3A and TET2—two genes that normally help regulate blood cell growth but, when mutated, are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
- Human Connection – How social interaction and isolation influence our physical and mental healthSalk neuroscientists study how our brains allow us to experience, interpret, and interact with the world around us. Many of these researchers are now studying not only the brain alone, but the brain in a social context.
- Salk scientists lead $126 million effort to map the aging human brainThe largest grant in Institute history has established the new Center for Multiomic Human Brain Cell Atlas to detail the many individual cells that make up the human brain—their molecular features, where they are found, and how they change with age.
- Gerald Joyce—An organizing forceJoyce was appointed Salk’s senior vice president and chief science officer in early 2022. Inside Salk sat down with him to learn about his research on the evolution of RNA, as well as the evolution of his career, science, and Salk.
- A life in service to science and others: Walter Eckhart exemplified generosity and kindnessEckhart, professor emeritus and director of the Salk Institute’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory for more than 30 years, died on June 21, 2022, at his home in La Jolla, California, at the age of 84.
- Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen-Bornemisza—Salk Institute mourns loss of influential former Board memberThyssen’s leadership and generosity helped accelerate scientific efforts at the Institute over the years, always with a focus on allowing Salk scientists to continue their pursuit of high-risk, high-impact research. He died on September 30, 2022.
- Mallory Zaslav—Valuing the differences in backgrounds and experiencesAs vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Zaslav’s forward thinking and advocacy have given shape to a range of impact-driven programming and outreach, furthering Salk’s mission of bettering humanity by pushing the boundaries of innovation and discovery.
- Katia Troha—Discovering diets that boost survival during infectionGrowing up in Peru, Troha’s love of science was fueled by documentaries on groundbreaking studies like the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep. She is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Salk lab of Professor Janelle Ayres.
- Heithoff-Brody High School Summer Scholars program paves the way for future scientistsFor more than 30 years, Salk’s Heithoff-Brody High School Summer Scholars program has provided hands-on laboratory experiences for local high school students interested in exploring careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.