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Blocking immune cell treats new type of
age-related diabetes

New research from Ronald Evans and Ye Zheng uncovered the potential cause of insulin resistance related to age, rather than weight or poor diet. The work, published November 18, 2015 in Nature, shows that diabetes in aged, lean mice is due to an accumulation of immune cells and proposes a potential treatment for what the co-leading scientists are calling diabetes type 4.
Reuben Shaw honored as recipient of
William R. Brody Chair
Congratulations are in order for Salk scientist Reuben Shaw, who has been named recipient
Reuben Shaw
of the William R. Brody Chair in acknowledgement of his outstanding contributions and commitment to scientific research. The chair was dedicated to Salk President William Brody last month on behalf of the Salk Board of Trustees in appreciation of his six years of leadership of the Institute.

Shaw, who has been at Salk since 2006, is a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.

A decade ago, Shaw discovered that a gene altered in lung cancer regulated an enzyme targeted in diabetes medicine. This discovery led him to wonder if drugs originally designed to treat metabolic diseases could also work against cancer. This tantalizing connection between cancer and metabolism opens up a host of new possible therapeutics for both diseases and is quickly moving to the forefront of cancer research and medicine.

All stars

For the fifth year running, Charity Navigator has bestowed a 4-star rating on the Salk

Institute for sound fiscal management. This rare accolade from the nation's largest evaluator of nonprofit business and financial operations highlights Salk's adherence to good governance and best practices, as well as the Institute's commitment to accountability and transparency.


"Only 6 % of the charities we rate have received at least 5 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Salk Institute for Biological Studies outperforms most other charities in America," said Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator. "This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Salk Institute from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust."

Science News

Loss of tiny genetic molecules could play role in neurodegenerative diseases

A tiny sliver of a person's DNA-several thousand times smaller than a typical gene----produces
synapses between motor neurons and muscle
a molecule that has crucial influence over whether a person has any control over their muscles, according to work by Samuel Pfaff's group published December 18, 2015 in the journal Science.

The team reports that animals unable to produce just one of many genetic molecules called microRNAs develop symptoms of devastating neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The findings upend previous understanding of the role of microRNAs in the nervous system and may open a door to new avenues for treating neurodegenerative disorders by correcting dysfunctional microRNAs.
Salk scientists discover the function and connections of three cell types in the brain

Salk scientists discover the function and connections of three cell types in the brain that process visual information.
Using cutting-edge visualization and genetic techniques, Edward Callaway's group uncovered a new subtype of nerve cell in the visual cortex. The group also detailed how the new cell----and two similar neurons----processes images and connects to other parts of the brain. Learning how the brain processes visual information at such a detailed level may one day help doctors understand elements of disorders like schizophrenia and autism.
Experimental drug targeting Alzheimer's disease shows anti-aging effects

From left: Antonio Currais and
David Schubert
A team led by David Schubert found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer's disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals. The group showed that mice treated with the candidate, called J147, had better memory and cognition, healthier blood vessels in the brain and other improved physiological features, as detailed November 12, 2015 in the journal Aging.
Fighting liver fibrosis, the wound that never heals

Chronic damage to the liver eventually creates a wound that never heals. This condition,
Evans Lab
From left: Nasun Hah, Ruth Yu, Mara Sherman, Ronald Evans, Michael Downes, Chris Liddle and Ann Atkins
called fibrosis, gradually replaces normal liver cells-which detoxify the food and liquid we consume-with more and more scar tissue until the organ no longer works, as in cases of alcoholism or diseases like hepatitis. Ronald Evan's lab identified a drug, called JQ1, which reversed and prevented this damaging accumulation of scar tissue in the liver. These results were published in PNAS the week of December 7, 2015.


Salk Professor Beverly Emerson named 2015 AAAS Fellow

Salk Professor Beverly Emerson has been named a 2015 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society. She earned the recognition for her distinguished contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms by which genes are transcriptionally regulated and how these processes can malfunction to cause disease. This year's AAAS Fellows, 347 in all, will be honored at the Fellows Forum in Washington, D.C. in February.

Spreading the news
Salk in the Media 

A media highlights montage of Salk discoveries made during the Campaign for Salk years illustrates the Institute's influential and prolific reach. Local and national newspaper and magazine articles, broadcast clips and even a late night TV nod are featured in this three and a half-minute video produced by the Institute.

Hot off the presses

The 2015 winter issue of Inside Salk has arrived and copies are available for the asking. This issue highlights Salk's "idea factories," the scientific core facilities that provide the cutting-edge technology and expertise that enables Salk researchers to perform their novel experiments. The annual Donor Honor Roll with profiles of Institute supporters is also included.

To get on the mailing list to receive the print version of
Inside Salk:


There are four concerts remaining in the third season of the Salk Science & Music Series. Won't you join us?

Each of the concerts in the series feature stunning performances by some of the hottest established and emerging musicians, as well riveting talks about the latest scientific discoveries by Salk scientists.


Courtesy: Martyn Goulding laboratory
Salk Institute science

Download some amazing Salk science images for your smartphone, tablet or desktop. 

A cross-section of a mouse dorsal spinal cord shows the close relationship between inhibitory interneurons expressing NPY (red), with touch sensory neurons arising from the hairy skin (green). 

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