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$6M Gift Funds Chairs in Genomics, Neuroscience at Salk Institute

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Salk Institute for Biological Studies today said it will establish endowed chairs in genomics and neuroscience named for its Nobel Prize laureates, using a $6 million gift from the chairman of its Board of Trustees, Irwin Jacobs, and his wife Joan Klein Jacobs.

The gift will allow for the establishment of the Renato Dulbecco Chair in Genomics and the Roger Guillemin Chair in Neuroscience.

Dulbecco, the Salk Institute's president from 1989 to 1992, is a co-winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for breakthrough research detailing how a virus could insert its own genes into the chromosome of the cell it infects and "turn on" the uncontrolled growth associated with cancer. The research presented the first solid evidence that cancer originates when a cell's genes become mutated.

Three years before taking the helm of the institute, Dulbecco initiated the idea of studying all human genes, thus helping to launch the worldwide Human Genome Project. The Salk Institute named for him its Dulbecco Laboratories for Cancer Research in 2005.

Guillemin — who served as interim president from 2007 to 2009 — is considered the founder of neuroendocrinology, whose work has led to study and treatments for a variety of disorders, from diabetes and infertility to thyroid diseases and several types of tumors, including pituitary tumors. He won the 1977 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discoveries that laid the foundation for brain hormone research. His discoveries include a new class of substances that regulate growth, development, reproduction and responses to stress.

Irwin Jacobs said in a statement that the endowed chairs were created to recognize Dulbecco and Guillermin "for their incredible achievements in science and research, for the leadership they have provided over the years at Salk, and for the legions of scientists they continue to mentor and inspire."