Biotechnology

The Salk Institute received $50 million from Hess Corporation for mitigation

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LA JOLLA—(April 3, 2023) Hess Corporation donates $50 million to the Salk Institute’s Discovery Campaign: The Power of Science, a comprehensive seven-year, $750 million fundraising campaign to attract people and build the technology and space needed to accelerate critical research. This gift in particular will advance Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative—an effort to mitigate climate change by optimizing crops and supporting wetlands to increase excess atmospheric carbon capture—and provide critical infrastructure for this work by establishing the new Hess Center for Plant Science.

LA JOLLA—(April 3, 2023) Hess Corporation donates $50 million to the Salk Institute’s Discovery Campaign: The Power of Science, a comprehensive seven-year, $750 million fundraising campaign to attract people and build the technology and space needed to accelerate critical research. This gift in particular will advance Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative—an effort to mitigate climate change by optimizing crops and supporting wetlands to increase excess atmospheric carbon capture—and provide critical infrastructure for this work by establishing the new Hess Center for Plant Science.

The Hess Corporation Prize will be distributed over five years to support faculty recruitment and laboratory operations and research for the Plant Harnessing Initiative, as well as to create and endow the Hess Plant Science Center, where Plant Harnessing Initiative scientists will work in the future Joan and Irwin Jacobs Science and Technology Center.

“We are very grateful to the Hess Corporation for funding important areas needed not only for the Institute, but also for the future of plant science research. This gift comes at the right time, because climate change is one of the most significant and pressing problems facing the health of humanity and our planet,” said President Salk and Professor Rusty Gage. “Their forward-thinking generosity will benefit future generations.”

Harnessing Plant Initiatives

Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative is led by Professor Joanne Chory, founding director, Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chairs in Plant Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, and Professor Wolfgang Busch, executive director and Hess Chair in Plant Sciences. Other faculty members participating in this initiative include Salk faculty members Joseph Noel, Julie Law, Todd Michael, and Joseph Ecker. This initiative consists of two projects aimed at climate change mitigation: TOGETHER2 Elimination on a Planetary Scalewhere scientists are developing Salk Ideal Plants® to capture potentially billions of tons of atmospheric carbon and store it in broader and deeper roots rich in molecules such as suberin, and Coastal Plant Restorationwhere scientists identify and restore wetland plants that sequester carbon, purify water, conserve soil, and thrive in challenging environments around the world.

“By increasing the innate capacity of plants to capture and retain carbon, it is possible to cultivate plants that not only help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels but also improve soil quality and increase crop yields,” said Chory. “The prospects for this approach to fighting climate change on a global scale are very exciting, and we are grateful to Hess Corporation for enabling us to scale up our efforts.”

In 2020, the Salk Institute received a $12.5 million award from the Hess Corporation to accelerate the development of plant-based carbon capture and storage. Since then, the Harnessing Plants Initiative team has made considerable progress in enhancing desirable plant traits, including deeper roots and the ability to sequester carbon, and quickly scaled their discoveries from laboratory to greenhouse to field trials. In 2021, Hess donated $3 million to establish the Hess Chair in Plant Science in Salk.

“Salk scientists are making impactful discoveries regularly, combining genetics, epigenetics, computational biology, and other disciplines to understand how plant genes determine how plants grow in an ever-changing environment. When these scientists find they need a technology that doesn’t exist yet, they often build it themselves,” said Salk Chief Science Officer and President-Designate Gerald Joyce. “This prize will surely accelerate the courageous work being done by our talented group of plant scientists. We greatly appreciate the Hess Company for their generosity and continued partnership.”

Hess Plant Science Center at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Science and Technology

As part of the Discovery Campaign, Salk plans to build a 100,000-square-foot Jacobs Center on the east side of the Institute’s campus. The facility will provide much-needed research space and support to advance and expand the Institute’s scientific mission, true to founder Jonas Salk’s vision of a flexible and functional design.

The Jacobs Center will be home to four Centers of Excellence, including the Hess Center for Plant Sciences. This new facility will provide the Harnessing Plants Initiative team with more opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and the ability to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies in computational biology.

“The Harnessing Plants Initiative is a potential game changer in tackling the global challenge of climate change,” said Hess Corporation Chief Executive Officer John Hess. “We are honored to support the groundbreaking research led by Harnessing Plants Initiative leaders Joanne Chory and Wolfgang Busch. We are confident that this groundbreaking work will implement scientific breakthroughs on a global scale and can make a major contribution to achieving the world’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions.”

To learn more about the Salk Campaign for Discovery, please visit www.salk.edu/Campaign.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

Unlocking the secrets of life itself is the driving force behind the Salk Institute. Our team of world-class award-winning scientists pushes the boundaries of knowledge in fields such as neuroscience, cancer research, aging, immunobiology, plant biology, computational biology and many more. Founded by Jonas Salk, developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, the Institute is an independent, not-for-profit research organization and an architectural milestone: small by choice, intimate by nature, and fearless in the face of any challenge. Learn more at www.salk.edu.

About the Hess Company:

Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Hess is committed to helping meet the world’s growing energy needs in a safe, environmentally responsible and socially sensitive manner. Further information about the company is available at www.hess.com.


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