Five years ago, the Salk Board, faculty, staff, and you, our dedicated supporters, welcomed me into the role of Salk president, a position I never aspired to achieve when I began my scientific career, but one I have cherished nonetheless.
This summer, the Institute began the process of identifying my successor as president so that I may return to my lab full time. I want to thank the Salk community at large for the trust and faith you’ve placed in me to lead Salk during a time of transformation that presented both significant opportunities and daunting challenges. It has been both an honor and a privilege.
As I reflect on the journey of serving as Salk’s president, the path has not always been straight, easy, or clear. But the one constant has been a sense of continual evolution and growth of the leadership team, the community, and the faculty—growth propelled by a commitment to our mission of serving humanity by conducting the most impactful science in a supportive environment.
Until we identify a successor (which you can read more about from Board Chair Marna Whittington here), I remain committed to leading the Institute even as I return some of my focus to my lab.
In this issue of Inside Salk, we take a look at an exciting new avenue in neuroscience research that has been emerging from several of our research labs over the past few years: how our social health influences our mental and physical health.
Additionally, Gerald Joyce, senior vice president and chief science officer, shares his motivations, research on the origins of life, and vision for the future of Salk science. We also have discussions with Mallory Zaslav, vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, about her team’s work and plans for the future; and Postdoctoral Fellow Katia Troha about her studies on how diet influences an organism’s response to infection.
We also pay special tribute to two influential Salk community members who died earlier this year: Professor Emeritus Walter Eckhart, who led Salk’s Cancer Center and Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory for more than 30 years, and Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen, a former trustee and generous supporter of Salk and chairman of the NOMIS Foundation. The next issue of Inside Salk will feature Distinguished Professor Emeritus Charles “Chuck” Stevens, who passed away in October. We are deeply saddened by the passing of these colleagues and friends. They will be missed.
As we approach the holiday season, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for all you have done this past year to support Salk’s science. Your dedication and loyalty have allowed our scientists to pursue our dreams of creating a healthier world.
The Institute’s future is bright because of our talented and forward-thinking faculty and staff, and the incredible generosity of supporters like you.
Fred H. Gage
President, Salk Institute