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June 2016

Commemorating Francis Crick
From the beginning, Francis Crick was a Salk fixture. He became one of the Institute's first non-resident fellows in 1960, shortly before winning the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of the DNA molecule with James Watson. At age 72, Crick left Cambridge and moved to La Jolla to join the Salk Institute. He later wrote that he had little expectation of producing any radically new ideas, "but at my time of life I had a right to do things for my own amusement." He spent the next 27 years searching for a biological basis for human consciousness. Crick's 100th birthday would have been June 8. Several Salk faculty members and researchers on the Mesa shared their memories of Crick in a tribute for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Back row, from left: Ling-wa Chong, Michael Downes, Ron Evans and Xuan Zhao 
Front row, from left: Ann Atkins, Ruth Yu and Ester Banayo
Powering up the circadian rhythm

Ronald Evans and collaborators have discovered a key player----a protein called REV-ERBα----that controls the strength of the circadian rhythm in mammals. The discovery is unusual in the field, as most circadian genes and proteins only shift the timing or length of the daily cycle. Disruptions to this 24-hour cycle of physiological activity are why jet lag or a bad night's sleep can alter your appetite and sleep patterns for days and even contribute to conditions like heart disease, sleep disorders and cancers.
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From left: Ronan O'Malley, Anna Bartlett, Joseph Ecker and Carol Huang
Salk researchers chart landscape of genetic and epigenetic regulation in plants

A new technique developed by Joseph Ecker's team rapidly maps regions of DNA targeted by regulatory proteins and could give scientists insight into what makes some plants drought tolerant or disease resistant. Revealing this landscape of protein-binding zones on DNA, collectively dubbed the "cistrome," shows how plants control where and when genes are expressed. Previous methods for mapping the cistrome in plant cells were difficult and slow, but the new approach overcomes those hurdles to offer a sweeping view of this critical aspect of genetic regulation.
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From left: John Thomas, Marc Montminy and Janelle Ayres
Genetic switch turned on during fasting helps stop inflammation

A molecular pathway that is activated in the brain during fasting helps halt the spread of intestinal bacteria into the bloodstream, according to a new study by a team of Salk researchers including Marc Montminy, John Thomas and Janelle Ayres. The study shows how the brain communicates with the gastrointestinal tract to prevent unnecessary activation of the immune system during fasting by strengthening the barrier against gut microbes. The discovery of this brain-gut signal in fruit flies, which has many parallels to humans, could eventually inform the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.
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Hu Cang_ Bj_rn Lillemeier_ Ying Hu image
From left: Hu Cang, Björn Lillemeier, Ying Hu
Super-resolution microscopy reveals unprecedented detail of immune cells' surface

When the body is fighting an invading pathogen, white blood
cells----including T cells----must respond. Now, researchers led by Björn Lillemeier and Hu Cang have imaged how vital receptors on the surface of T cells bundle together when activated. This study, the first to visualize this process in lymph nodes, could help scientists better understand how to turn up or down the immune system's activity to treat autoimmune diseases, infections or even cancer.
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Additional media mentions
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Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte spoke with CNN about his work creating embryos that have both human and pig cells and how this technology may help solve the shortage of donor organs and treat people with life-threatening diseases like diabetes.
Sung Han
Salk recruits neuroscientist to study neurology of mental disorders

Sung Han has been appointed as an assistant professor in Salk's Clayton Foundation Peptide Biology Laboratories. He will study small molecules, called neuropeptides, which affect the brain's defense response and contribute to sensory hypersensitivity in neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and autism. Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Han will join the Salk Institute in September.

Rusty Gage and Carol Marchetto
Talk about outstanding

Carol Marchetto, a senior staff scientist in Rusty Gage's lab, was honored recently with the Outstanding Speaker Award for 2015 by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Her talk, "Probing Neural Phenotype in Autism and Other Neuropsychiatric Diseases," was part of the webinar series "Advancing Neuroscience: Functional Insights from in vitro Microelectrode Arrays" hosted by Labroots.
Ayres garners McLoraine, CCFA awards
Janelle Ayres

Janelle Ayres, Salk assistant professor in the Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, has been named a recipient of the Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair in Neurobiology. Effective July 1, she will receive $50,000 annually over the next five years to continue her examination of how the body controls and repairs the collateral damage generated during interactions with bad microbes. Ayres also received a Senior Research Award from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. Beginning in July, she will receive $300,000 over the next three years for a project on using the microbiome to prevent growth impairment in pediatric IBD.
Did you know? We have a YouTube channel...
From our science and scientists to Institute news and historical footage of the main man----Jonas Salk
himself----the Salk YouTube channel has dozens of video vignettes to like and to share. You can check out this trove and help Salk go viral at:

Salk Institute
Kellie O_Hara
Broadway star to headline Symphony at Salk

Tony Award winner Kelli O'Hara, who dazzled audiences in last year's revival of The King & I, will grace the Institute's courtyard stage for the 21st annual Symphony at Salk. Mark your calendar for the August 20 concert under the stars with the incomparable San Diego Symphony conducted by Maestro Thomas Wilkins. Sponsorships still available.  Tickets go on sale July 5!
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Salk Women & Science

Fresh ideas and stimulating conversation on "Nutritional Genomics: Health and Well-being" will be the focus of discussion at Salk Women & Science on July 20 at the Institute. Hosted by Salk President Elizabeth Blackburn, the program will feature talks by Salk research associates Amandine Chaix, Sheila Rao and Maryam Ahmadian, followed by a presentation on the science of wine.

For more information on the July 20 forum and the Salk Women & Science program, contact Betsy Collins, director of Donor Relations, at or (858) 453-4100 x1426.
Prepping for Pedal the Cause '16

Team SCC, Salk's Cancer Center cycling group, is limbering up for Padres Pedal the Cause, an annual endurance-team relay-road ride with varying courses that benefit cancer research at the Salk Institute and three other local research centers. This year's cyclo-thon is November 12-13, with courses beginning and ending at Petco Park. To learn more about Padres Pedal the Cause, contact Jamie Simon at (858) 453-4100 x1121 or


Courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies
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Salk Institute | 10010 N Torrey Pines Rd | La Jolla | CA | 92037 |

Salk Institute | 10010 N Torrey Pines Rd | La Jolla | CA | 92037