Member News

Venter Team Creates First Cell With Man-Made Genes

Genome researchers Thursday unveiled the first bacteria strain with a man-made collection of genes, according to USA Today..

The long-anticipated advance, reported in the journal Science, is a $40 million milestone in the nascent field of "synthetic biology" and points towards a future of designer microbes manufacturing fuels, chemicals and materials.

"This is the first self-replicating cell we've had on the planet whose parent is a computer," says team chief Craig Venter of the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego., who called the bacteria "the world's first synthetic cell." Venter is best known for his leadership of private human genome mapping efforts in the last decade, but he has since become a leading figure in synthetic biology, with his team producing a series of advances over the past 15 years.

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Golf Classic to Benefit HIV Research & Education

What: The UCSD AIDS Research Institute and Christie’s Place are proud to announce the 1st Annual San Diego HIV Golf Classic. The event will benefit HIV research at the UC San Diego AIDS Research Institute as well as community services and educational support provided by Christie’s Place. All proceeds will be shared equally by these organizations.

When: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, Tuesday, May 25; includes dinner

Where: Crosby National Golf Club

17102 Bing Crosby Blvd

Rancho Santa Fe, California, 92127


All members of the community are invited to participate with friends, family, supporters and community members in the San Diego HIV Golf Classic. The UCSD AIDS Research Institute and Christie’s Place, both nonprofit, are two of the leading HIV/AIDS organizations in San Diego County, providing cutting-edge research and comprehensive social services.

This partnership is vital to addressing HIV/AIDS in its entirety, from basic science research to patient care to support services and education for those impacted by HIV/AIDS. This disease knows no boundaries and neither do our efforts to combat this terrible pandemic.


Media Contacts: Kim Edwards, 619-543-6163,; Kim Schafer, 858-534-5545,

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American Philosophical Society Inducts Fred H. Gage

Salk scientist Fred H. Gage, a professor in the Laboratory for Genetics and the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases, has been elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS). Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin and modeled after the Royal Society of London, the APS was the first organization in America to promote scientific endeavors and knowledge.

Gage, one of the most highly cited neuroscientist worldwide, joins a distinguished group of former members who include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, past and present Salk faculty members Renato Dulbecco, Sydney Brenner, Francis H. C. Crick, Ronald M. Evans, Inder Verma, Tony Hunter and former Salk president Augustus B. Kinzel.

"Rusty's discoveries have profoundly changed our understanding of the brain," said Salk President William R. Brody. "We all look forward to learning even more about human brain plasticity and adaptability through Rusty's groundbreaking work."

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Sanford-Burnham Researchers Awarded NIH Grants

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona is pleased to announce that two faculty members have received new grants from the National Institutes of Health valued at more than $3.5 million dollars. Dr. Daniel Kelly, scientific director, Sanford-Burnham Institute at Lake Nona has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for cardiac research and Dr. Sheila Collins, professor, has received a NIH R21 two-year grant to study fat metabolism.

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Cancer: Trapping the Escape Artist

Cancer uses devious means to evade treatment and survive. One prime example is the way tumors express anti-cell death (anti-apoptotic) proteins to resist chemotherapy and radiation. However, the Pellecchia laboratory at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute has made two recent discoveries that may help curb these anti-apoptotic proteins and make current treatments more effective.

In a paper published online in the journal Cell Death and Disease on May 6, Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D., and colleagues outline how the six anti-apoptotic proteins in the Bcl-2 family are expressed differently in different cancers. As a result, any therapy designed to defeat these proteins, and thus enhance the cell death caused by most cancer treatments, must target the exact anti-apoptotic protein the cancer is expressing to be effective. However, even targeting the right protein might not be enough, as cancers often express more than one and can select for an “escape” protein and continue to thrive.

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Salk Scientist Terrence Sejnowski Elected to NAS

Salk Institute professor Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., whose work on neural networks helped spark the neural networks revolution in computing in the 1980s, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy made the announcement today during its 147th annual meeting in Washington, DC. Election to the Academy recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, and is considered one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist.

"Terry is an extraordinary neuroscientist," said Salk President William R. Brody. "His work has bridged computer science and neuroscience and has helped spur many advances in neuroscience. His election is a wonderful recognition of his pioneering accomplishments in computational neuroscience."

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Funds for Research Flowing into SDSU

San Diego State University expects to obtain a record $150 million for research this fiscal year — 15 times the average of what a Cal State campus gets.

The projected total also is $10 million higher than SDSU’s previous record, a surge that is making the school a bigger player in the county’s already huge scientific research community, according to a story in the Union-Tribune.

Scripps Chemistry Idea “Clicks” With Big Pharma

One of the Nobel Prize winners at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego has been saying for a decade that chemists would be better off doing the simple thing instead of the hard thing. Now quite a few of the world’s top academic scientists and Big Pharma companies are starting to adopt K. Barry Sharpless‘philosophy of “click chemistry,” according to a report in Xconomy.

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Salk Institute Board Elects Four New Members

The Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies unanimously voted to elect four new members with records of extraordinary entrepreneurial success and expertise in business, innovation, real estate and philanthropy.

"These four individuals exemplify uniquely American success stories of innovation, entrepreneurial acumen and the desire to give back to their communities and the world," said Salk Board Chairman Irwin M. Jacobs. "I am confident that their considerable business expertise, overall good sense and generosity will make them invaluable colleagues and assets to the Institute."

The new members include Dean L. Kamen, Ralph S. O'Connor, Conrad T. Prebys and Margaret Faye Wilson.

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Salk Sientist Named 2010 Rita Allen Scholar

Dr. Ye Zheng, an assistant professor in the Nomis Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been named a 2010 Rita Allen Scholar, the Rita Allen Foundation announced today. He will receive $500,000 over a five-year period to study how regulatory T cells prevent the immune system from attacking the body's own tissue and causing autoimmune disease.

"A significant part of our mission is to promote the common good through the work of our Scholars," said Elizabeth G. Christopherson, President and CEO of the Rita Allen Foundation. "The Scholars Program concentrates on medical research, and we also hope to advance understanding of the human condition. We have a storied history of embracing innovative research with above average risk and groundbreaking possibilities, and are proud of the over 100 Scholars, including a Nobel Laureate, who have received our financial assistance."

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Pain 2010: Bench to Bedside

The UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) and Nature Medicine would like to invite you to attend the 5th Annual Frontiers of Clinical Investigation Symposium on October 14-16, at the Estancia La Jolla The theme for the meeting will be "Pain 2010", which will explore innovative approaches to bridge laboratory investigation and clinical research in pain.

Multi-disciplinary sessions will include basic, translational, and clinical presentations on cutting edge research to provide an integrated approach to understanding the pathogenesis and treatment of pain as well as novel clinical trial designs for development of new therapeutic agents. This symposium will provide unique insights and tools for optimizing and streamlining clinical investigation from discovery to drug approval.

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UC San Diego Health System Seeking Participants for Alzheimer’s Clinical Trial

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego Alzheimer’s program have begun a Phase 3 clinical trial testing a new approach to slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease using Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIg), also known as gammaglobulin. IVIg has been used to treat primary immunodeficiency disorders for more than 20 years, but is not currently approved for treating Alzheimer’s, one of the leading forms of dementia.

The clinical trial is being led by Michael Rafii, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and associate medical director of the Alzheimer’s disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a nationwide consortium of institutions, based at UC San Diego and funded by the National Institute on Aging to spearhead clinical trials in the disease. This study expands on promising results of a Phase 2 trial and is part of the final phase in studying IVIg as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s before seeking regulatory approval.

The research is jointly funded by Baxter International Inc. and the National Institute on Aging. For additional information on the trial, contact Elizabeth Ortega at UC San Diego at 858-677-1567 or visit

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Join a Life Sciences Delegation to China

Join the U.S. Commercial Service and FedEx to get the insight you need to move confidently into China. Are you considering doing clinical trials in China? Finding partners for co-development? Looking to possibly sell your products into China either now or in the future? This is the trip you NEED to take. Our team of China experts will help lead you through the obstacle course that is doing business in China and give you the confidence, contacts, and tools you need to be successful. For more information and to register, please visit:

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Human BioMolecular Research Institute Open House

On Friday May 21st, 2010, the Human BioMolecular Research Institute (HBRI) will host an Open House to celebrate advancements in stem cell research

HBRI will honor two distinguished individuals with Disease Advocate Awards. These awards will be presented to two Patient Advocates that have been particularly motivated and outspoken about patient causes for Parkinson's disease and ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and have worked diligently to make stem cell research for these diseases possible.

HBRI welcomes all members of the San Diego life sciences community and the San Diego community to attend this event. HBRI will host a Mediterranean dinner, drinks and music while guests mingle and take a tour of the HBRI lab.

HBRI is hosting this Open House to introduce people in the community to the outstanding research done at HBRI, and to give them a chance to see the lab where the work is done. The HBRI 2010 Summer Research Intern Awardees and their families will also be recognized. Guests will have an opportunity to meet with scientists from the Institute in a casual, intimate environment and ask questions about HBRI’s research.

If you are interested in attending this event please RSVP to Carrie James at (858) 458-9305 or The Open House will begin at 4:30pm. The dress is business casual. There is no charge for this event.

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