Salk specializes in basic science. But he has started to do more to help translate his discoveries into therapeutic drugs and to work on practical ways to fight climate change, such as developing plants that absorb greater amounts of carbon dioxide.
As part of the change, the institute has invested heavily in computational biology, a field in which the increasing ability to analyze massive data sets allowed scientists to quickly determine the genetic makeup of various COVID-19 strains.
Jacobs’ donation is very timely “because faculty are working together on larger issues with profound implications,” said Salk President Fred Rusty Gage, who shocked science in the 1990s when he discovered that adult humans they can generate new brain cells.
Their finding helped deepen the scientific understanding of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The $ 100 million donation from Irwin Jacobs – the co-founder of San Diego chipmaker Qualcomm – and his wife represents the latest in a long line of donations.
Complete and specific figures are not available. But the couple have already donated more than $ 700 million to San Diego County.
The couple caused a stir in 2002 when they donated $ 100 million to help the San Diego Symphony, which was in serious financial trouble.
The following year, they donated $ 110 million to UC San Diego to support their engineering school, helping to make it one of the largest programs of its kind in the western United States.
His total contribution to the campus exceeds $ 300 million and he helped create the Jacobs Medical Center, a linchpin of UC San Diego Health.
The Jacobs also have a close relationship with the Salk, where Irwin, now 88, has served on the board of trustees since 2004. He became president two years later and helped the institute cope with financial challenges during his ten-year mandate. He remains part of the council.
“Joan and I continue to build on our family tradition of supporting effective nonprofits with the potential to positively influence many lives,” Irwin Jacobs said in a statement.
“We focus on projects that have well-defined objectives and good leadership, and Salk is exemplary in both respects,” he added. “We strongly advocate expanding philanthropy in support of basic science and engineering.”
Under the terms of the new donation, the Jacobs will donate $ 1 for every $ 2 raised by the Salk for a period ending June 30, 2022. The couple will donate up to $ 100 million.
The institute’s overall fundraising campaign needs to raise at least $ 250 million to build the Science and Technology Center, a 100,000-square-foot building that will be located at the eastern end of the Salk campus, along North Torrey Pines Road. Construction could begin late next fall.
Another $ 250 million is being sought for various scientific activities and to increase the number of active members of the faculty from 50 to 55.
Salk has published concept drawings showing what the new science and technology center will look like.
But the project is likely to be closely watched by the architectural community to see if there are significant deviations from the overall look of the Salk, whose seaside laboratory buildings and travertine marble courtyard are considered a masterpiece of design.
The institute was founded by Jonas Salk, who developed the first successful vaccine to fight polio in the 1950s.
He liked labs so much that he used to run his fingertips along the exterior walls during his daily walks around campus.
The institute later built another complex, known as the East Building, which did not cause much of a stir.
Gage told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the new center will be made up of teak wood, steel and cement, just like the original buildings, and will feature airy laboratory, office and gathering space.