Campaign for Discovery

Salk 1

$50M helps mitigate climate change

The Salk Institute is grateful to Hess Corporation for donating $50 million to the Institute’s Campaign for Discovery: The Power of Science, a seven-year, $750 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to attract the people and build the technology and space necessary to accelerate critical research. This generous gift will specifically advance Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative – an effort to mitigate climate change by optimizing plants and supporting wetlands to increase capture of excess atmospheric carbon – and provide vital infrastructure for this work by establishing the new Hess Center for Plant Science.

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

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

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

In 2020, the Salk Institute received a $12.5 million gift from Hess Corporation to accelerate development of plant-based carbon capture and storage. Since then, the Harnessing Plants Initiative team has made numerous advances in enhancing desired plant traits, including deeper rooting and the ability to sequester carbon, and is rapidly scaling their discoveries from laboratory to greenhouse to field trials. In 2021, Hess donated $3 million to establish the endowed Hess Chair in Plant Science at Salk.

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

To learn more about Salk’s Campaign for Discovery, please visit


author avatar
Esteban Villanueva