La Jolla CA— The Salk Institute has announced that The Kavli Foundation has committed $3 million to support ongoing neuroscience research at Salk as part of the joint UCSD-Salk Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (KIBM). The gift—matched by an additional $3 million from Salk—will add $6 million to the KIBM Endowment, to enable faculty in neuroscience to work on the most impactful questions in the field. The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind was established through a $15.5 million endowment commitment from The Kavli Foundation, shared between Salk and UC San Diego.
KIBM’s mission aims to support research that furthers an understanding of the origins, evolution and mechanisms of human cognition, from the brain’s physical and biochemical machinery to the experiences and behaviors called the mind.
“We are deeply grateful to the Kavli Institute for this generous gift, which will allow our scientists to continue their promising research into the mysteries of the brain,” says Salk President Rusty Gage, PhD, who also serves as co-director of KIBM. “Gifts such as this allow us to take on the biggest questions in neuroscience and could potentially lead to new therapies for neurologic diseases or injuries.”
The Salk Institute is home to many of the world’s leaders within the field of neuroscience, including computational neuroscience, spinal circuitry, pain, movement, learning, vision, psychiatric and development disorders, and age-related decline.
In addition to this gift, The Kavli Foundation has also gifted $300,000 to Salk Professor and new KIBM member Kay Tye, PhD, holder of the Wylie Vale Chair. Tye’s lab uses cutting-edge techniques and approaches to better understand the brain’s circuitry underlying emotion and motivation. Her discoveries are helping to pave the way for more targeted and efficient treatments for brain disorders, such as addiction, anxiety, depression and impairments in social behavior.
“The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind is a nexus for neuroscience research, helping to facilitate collaborations across two world-renowned institutes—Salk and UC San Diego—as well as other neuroscience research centers around the world,” says Stephanie Albin, PhD, science program officer at The Kavli Foundation. “We believe collaborations are essential to accelerate basic scientific research. It is exciting to see the collective power of these institutes, including how they work across scientific disciplines, such as molecular and cellular biology, and cognitive and computational neuroscience, to bridge the gap between the brain and the mind.”
In recognition of the $3 million matching gift, Salk has named the laboratory space the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind Laboratories for Neurobiology for the following up-and-coming neuroscientists. A conference center has also been designated for these Kavli faculty:
Nicola Allen, PhD, associate professor and the Hearst Foundation Development Chair, studies how astrocytes control the formation and function of neuronal connections. She aims to use this knowledge to develop ways to repair damaged connections to improve cognition and memory. Allen is also investigating whether these properties of astrocytes may regulate the brain’s ability to learn new tasks.
Kenta Asahina, PhD, assistant professor and holder of the Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair in Neurobiology, is studying the fundamentals of social behavior—such as aggression—using multidisciplinary approaches, including genome editing, gene expression control, optogenetic techniques for controlling neurons with light, functional neuronal imaging and computational behavioral analysis.
Eiman Azim, PhD, assistant professor and the William Scandling Development Chair, uses a multidisciplinary approach to identify how neural circuits control skilled movements. He takes advantage of genetic and viral tools, anatomical analysis, electrophysiological recording, imaging and detailed motor behavioral tests. His work seeks to lay the groundwork for better treatment and recovery of motor function after injury and disease.
Xin Jin, PhD, associate professor, charts the fundamental principles of how the brain learns and generates actions to develop cures for a wide range of related neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and Parkinson’s disease. He uses a variety of tools to uncover the neural circuits and molecular mechanisms underlying action learning and selection.