The grant will fund research on chronic inflammation, which can severely affect illnesses and conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, ulcers, colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease. With the funding, scientists from several disciplines will collaborate to decipher the genetic code involved in chronic inflammation, with the goal of developing new diagnostic tools, therapeutics, and preventive measures for a broad range of disorders.
"Chronic inflammation is natural," cancer biologist Ronald Evans told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It’s part of the wound-healing process. It’s like a light switch; it goes on and it goes off. If it doesn’t turn off, that’s not healthy....That’s what happens in cancer. Cancer is detected as a type of wound. Chronic inflammation tries to heal it. That doesn’t work because cancer is a living entity that keeps driving forward....If we can get the genetic code that drives this process, we can use tricks and insights to reprogram to a natural level."
The grant follows a $42 million grant to the institute from the Helmsley Trust in 2013 — the largest contribution in the institute’s history — to establish the Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine.
"Helmsley is delighted to be able to provide the Salk Institute this critical renewal grant," said the trust’s CEO, Stephanie Cuskley, "so that its scientists are able to continue the amazing research that stems from our initial grant."