Salk Institute for Biological Studies
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies was founded by Jonas Salk, the legendary scientist who developed the vaccine that wiped out the polio epidemic. In 1960, there were over 45,000 polio cases in the US. Two years later, after Salk’s vaccine had become widely available, the number of cases dropped to 910. Hailed as a miracle worker, Salk never patented the vaccine or charged anything for his discovery, preferring it be distributed as widely as possible.
In 1963 he created the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California to encourage the discovery of other life-saving medicines and scientific advances, aided by a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation and ongoing financial support from the March of Dimes.
The Salk Institute currently “explores the very foundations of life, seeking new realities in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, and more. We are small by choice, intimate by nature, fearless in the face of any challenge. We live to discover. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, we understand that every cure has a starting point. Salk is where cures begin.”
In this podcast, we interview Salk Institute research scientists Amy Rommel and Laura Tan, who describe their respective research projects on brain cancer and stress, explain what it’s like to work at the Salk Institute, and offer tips on how to apply for work there.
They also discuss the Salk Institute’s support for women, including its Women in Science program, a series of seminars which Rommel called “a bridge between the scientists at Salk and successful women in science or industry, and also the community.” The program gives presenters the opportunity to network with scientists outside of Salk, meet business and government leaders who might help fund their research, and even motivate young girls drawn to science. Tan added making the public understand their work is part of the job: “We don’t want to be stuck in an ivory tower. We want to be part of the community.”