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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Salk Receives $20M Gift from NOMIS

BIOTECH: Donation to Fund Research, Faculty Recruitment

LA JOLLA – The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has received a $20 million gift to support its research efforts that will explore a new frontier of biological sciences, which involves immunology and neuroscience related diseases.

The donation came from NOMIS, a European foundation that serves as a catalyst for scientific and human progress by supporting interdisciplinary research.

Gerald Joyce
Salk Institute

The gift will be dispersed over four years and will go toward the Neuroimmunology Initiative, helping fuel new research programs, faculty recruitment, as well as pilot grants.
“We are deeply grateful to the NOMIS Foundation for investing in neuroimmunology and in Salk,” said Gerald Joyce, President at Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

“This funding will allow us to tackle currently unaddressed scientific questions, opening fundamentally new areas of scientific inquiry across human health and disease, and paving the way toward innovative therapeutic interventions for a wide range of disorders that have both a neurological and immunological component, such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, long COVID, and some forms of cancer.”

Steering the Initiative

The NOMIS Foundation – led by Markus Reinhard –  has a history of supporting research programs at Salk that spans more than a decade.

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Reinhard, who serves as the vice chair of Salk’s Board of Trustees, said the initiative will be co-led by two Salk faculty members Susan Kaech and Nicola Allen.

Nicola Allen
Associate Professor
Salk Institute

In conjunction, the duo will work closely with Salk professor Axel Nimmerjahn and Diana Hargreaves, associate professor to execute the multi-year research initiative.

It will encompass two related research programs focused on “Body to Brain,” and “Brain to Body,” which will examine multiple diseases and tackles currently unaddressed scientific questions.

“As a new frontier of biological sciences is emerging at the intersection of immunology and neuroscience, we welcome that Sue Kaech and her colleagues at the NOMIS Center at Salk aim to capitalize on this momentum by launching this Neuroimmunology Initiative,” Markus Reinhard, managing director of the NOMIS Foundation.

Kaech also noted the goal is to help scientists deepen their understanding of the “crosstalk between the immune and nervous systems,” and the role it plays in health and disease.

Focused on Neuroimmunology

Salk researchers will examine when the “body is confronted with different types of inflammation,” which typically involve pathogens, cancer, or aging-related issues, Kaech said.

Overall, the goal is to “dissect the bidirectional communication that occurs between the central nervous system and the peripheral immune system. Next year, the world-renowned research institute plans to host a Neuroimmunology Symposium.

Susan Kaech
Salk Institute

“The purpose is to bring together leaders in the neuroimmunology field will be able to share ideas, seek feedback, and foster new collaborations in this space” said Kaech, Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

“This work is important because growing evidence indicates that inflammation is linked to neurodegeneration in aging, and a person’s brain function and mental state can be affected by immune responses. Yet, we don’t fully understand the bilingual communication between cells in our immune system and our nervous system  –  a language we commonly refer to as neuro-immune crosstalk.”

Largest Gift in 2024

The $20 million donation is among the largest charitable gifts recorded in the area in 2024.
The iniative adds momentum to Salk’s effort to raise $750 million in gifts during a seven-year period ending in 2028.

“At NOMIS, we are glad to support world-leading researchers striving for new insights and future advancements in our understanding of fundamental conditions and interdependencies of health and disease,” said Reinhard.

“Salk’s robust foundation in neuroscience and immunology presents a fertile ground for pioneering, fundamental discoveries in mental health, behavior, aging, and chronic diseases that span pathogen-induced conditions, neurodegeneration, and cancer.”

In November 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gave Salk $30 million to support the Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, which is focused on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a global scale.

Last year, the La Jolla-based research institute accepted a $50 million gift from the from Hess Corp., to seek better ways to slow climate change. Salk employs roughly 50 researchers.

Salk Institute
PRESIDENT: Gerald Joyce
BUSINESS: Research Institution
Faculty: 50
WEBSITE: www.salk.edu
NOTABLE: Six Salk Institute researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize.


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