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What Is the Next Game-Changing Scientific Idea? That’s the Salk Ethos, and It’s Why We Say That Salk Is Where Cures Begin.

San Diego’s scientific leaders include at least a half-dozen world-renowned research institutes (J. Craig Venter Institute, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Scripps Research and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, to name a few) as well as many biotech startups. Indeed, the San Diego Biotechnology Network lists over 675 biotechnology or life science organizations in its directory. These organizations are seeking therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s, autism and cancer. They’re creating new medical diagnostic tools and devices. They’re developing green technologies. In short, they are looking to change the world.

The future for San Diego seems very bright, given what we scientists like to call “the downstream effects” of the Mesa’s impact on the region’s economy and vitality. Young, diverse scientists and researchers are actively engaged in the world around them. They buy homes and put down roots, raise families, seek out cultural experiences and engage in civic activities. They bring a laboratory-based ethos of people of all different ages and backgrounds working together toward a common goal of seeking truth about the world. A strong scientific community strengthens the overall community.

But whether we are scientists or artists, businesspeople or builders, I believe it’s important to remember one of Jonas Salk’s most powerful legacies, the idea that “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.” This means paying forward the opportunities and benefits we have been fortunate to receive. And we are indeed fortunate to be at the epicenter of such exciting research, here in San Diego, where profound scientific discoveries are being made every day. As Jonas said, “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”

Rusty Gage, one of the world’s most preeminent neuroscientists, is the president of the Salk Institute, a professor in its Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease. His team studies cellular and molecular mechanisms to find possible avenues to repair damaged or aging brains.

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