La Jolla News Nuggets


Shaken Salk Institute names interim prez

Fred “Rusty” Gage, the geneticist who threw science for a loop by proving that humans can generate new brain cells in adulthood, has been appointed interim president of The Salk Institute in La Jolla. Gage, 67, previously served as interim president in 2015, when William Brody went on medical leave.

This time, Gage takes over for Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, who recently announced her unexpected upcoming retirement this summer. Gage told the Union-Tribune that his hat is not in the ring for the gig on a permanent basis, and The Salk said it hopes to announce Blackburn’s replacement within three to six months.

“What I see as my main objective is to help stabilize the Institute and prepare it for the incoming of the next president,” Gage said Monday. “I think this next recruitment is really very important.”

Salk was shaken last summer when three of its female professors — Katherine Jones, Beverly Emerson and Vicki Lundblad — separately sued the Institute, alleging gender discrimination, charges denied by The Salk.

Record-breaking surfing hopes crash

It was a valiant effort by the 172 surfers who convened at La Jolla Shores on Saturday, Jan. 17 for The World Record Breaking 1 Wave Challenge & Beach Run. But ultimately, they couldn’t break the Guinness World Record for most surfers riding a single wave for five seconds: 110. Surf conditions — including a consistent northwest swell of 3-5 foot waves and strong rip currents — were blamed.

Of 12 attempts, the fifth struck spotters as particularly promising and swept away many of the surfers. Upon review of video footage, however, the record — set 10 years ago by surfers in Cape Town, South Africa — still stands ... at least for now.

Official Judge and Wave Wrangler Eric “Bird” Huffman expressed his determination to lead the way to victory next year. “Although the current record was not broken, the event was very well attended with fun had by all,” he added.

Sister Mary Jo Anderson to chair Scripps Health board

Sister Mary Jo Anderson, a longtime Scripps Health and hospital administrator, and Scripps Health Board of Trustees member since 2005, is now chairperson of that board.

Anderson, a member of the Catholic Order of the Community of the Holy Spirit, began her healthcare career in 1968 as an assistant administrator for San Diego’s Mercy Hospital. She has served on numerous community boards and committees, including the American Cancer Society in San Diego, Well Start, the Mercy Hospital Foundation and the advisory board for San Diego OASIS.

“Sister Mary Jo Anderson has been a valuable and compassionate leader in our organization for many years and we are honored to welcome her into her new role as chairperson of the board,” said Scripps president and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “Her long history of service and dedication to meeting the needs of our communities will help guide us during this period of great change in healthcare.”

Are you green enough for Mayor Faulconer?

The City seeks members for the Green Business Network (GBN), a voluntary organization of eco-friendly businesses bent on achieving greater energy and water efficiency. Free resources are available for members, including programs designed to save energy, money and natural resources.

“We have set an ambitious goal of getting to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2035,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “The business community will play a key role in helping us get there. This network is designed to assist businesses by saving them money through smart energy choices that will ensure a cleaner San Diego for future generations.”

For more info, visit

La Jolla Institute for Allergy partners with Michael J. Fox

La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology professor Alessandro Sette has been awarded $340,000 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Resarch (MJFF). The grant follows up an earlier study linking the progressive brain disease to autoimmunity. Immunologists, Parkinson’s clinicians and neuroscientists at LJI, UC San Diego, Rush University Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Schoool will now focus on the characterization of T cells that recognize fragments of a brain protein that accumulates in Parkinson’s patients.

Prior to Sette’s pioneering insight, many scientists believed that brain cells were protected from autoimmune attack. “Our discovery raised the tantalizing possibility that the death of neurons in Parkinson’s could be prevented by novel therapies that dampen this unwanted immune response,” Sette said.

New UC San Diego bike-share program

Bike-share company Spin has partnered with UCSD to help faculty, staff, students and visitors find better commuting solutions as the campus grows. Currently, 300 orange smart-bikes are in place, each equipped with a GPS tracking device that can be used to locate it. (The Spin app, downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play, is required to unlock each bike by scanning a code after payment is received.) At the end of a ride, users simply park the bike in a responsible location, such as near a bike rack.

“As many of you know, getting around campus can take more than a 10-minute walk, and the campus is continuing to expand,” said Garry MacPherson, associate vice chancellor of environmental and building services. “With the long-range development plan, which includes more building east of campus and the Gilman Bridge, we hope to create a more bike-friendly campus that contributes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing the quality of life for our campus community.”

Bikes may be taken off campus but need to be returned the same day.

Former DA Dumanis to address next La Jolla Town Council

Speaking at the next Town Council meeting will be former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, focusing on her efforts as the county’s top prosecutor to address substance abuse, mental health, homelessness and other challenges regularly faced by residents of La Jolla and San Diego County. The meeting takes place 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. As always the public is welcome to attend.

Gateway at Torrey Hills sells for $105M

The twin, four-story Del Mar Heights buildings, located at 3570 and 3580 Carmel Mountain Road, have been sold to the Orange County-based Irvine Company for $105 million. Rick Reeder and Brad Tecca, of San Diego’s Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets group, negotiated on behalf of the seller, an institutional real-estate investor.

“This offering represented one of Southern California’s finest investment opportunities,” said Reeder, Cushman & Wakefield’s executive managing director. “Gateway at Torrey Hills is a beautifully designed, trophy office campus strategically located in Del Mar Heights, one of San Diego County’s most desirable submarkets.” He continued: “The complex was approximately 80 percent leased to a dynamic tenant roster that offered the ideal balance of secure income and potential upside with a clear path to stabilization.”

La Jolla brewery reopens under new name and ownership

The former La Jolla Brewing Company at 7536 Fay Ave., which closed last year, has remodeled and soft-reopened as Absolution by the Sea.

Featuring a brewery, tasting room and restaurant, the location is the brand’s second — following the four-year-old Absolution Brewing Company in Torrance, California. Co-founders Steve Farguson — a former San Diego resident — and Nigel Heath told the Daily Breeze newspaper in 2014 that they had originally planned to open in San Diego before Torrance, but found the San Diego market overcrowded. The initial beer batches are being brewed in Torrance for the first few weeks before the official grand opening, expected to be in February or March.