John Fleischman

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

ASCB member Pascale Cossart of the Institut Pasteur in Paris won the 2013 International Balzan Prize, worth 750,000 Swiss francs (roughly $800,000), for her work on the molecular biology of pathogenic bacteria and their interaction with host cells. Speaking for the Balzan Foundation, Peter Suter, honorary vice president of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, said, "Her research has provided very significant insights into the mechanisms underlying infectious diseases and how they might be combatted."

The ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter is named for the German mathematician Theodor Kaluza (1885-1954), who is the namesake of Beckman Coulter's flow cytometry software system. The posthumous reputation of Kaluza, who was not a biologist but a German mathematician, has been on the rise in recent years, and the eponymous honor of a $5,000 cash prize for scientific achievement for an ASCB graduate student is only the latest feather.

ASCB's Public Policy Committee is running a dead-serious but amusing contest to collect group photos of every basic biology research lab in the U.S. It's called We Are Research, and the idea is to show the lab portraits to Congress as proof that scientists are flesh and blood and that if we continue to choke off science funding, those young smiling faces of future Nobel winners will go away. The sucking sound that Congress will hear in 5-10 years will be American leadership in bioscience and health research.

Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:00

A New Editorial Partnership— ASCB + GSA = LSE

Behind the acronyms ASCB + GSA = LSE stands a new editorial partnership between the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and the Genetics Society of America (GSA) to support the online journal, CBE—Life Sciences Education (LSE). The journal, which was started by ASCB in 2002 as Cell Biology Education but changed to CBE—Life Sciences Education in 2006 to reflect the breadth of its educational coverage across all life sciences, will have a joint editorial board drawn from scientists in both societies. GSA will become a full editorial partner, promoting the journal, soliciting manuscripts, and contributing to its costs of operation while ASCB will remain the actual publisher. Erin Dolan will continue as LSE Editor-In-Chief.

A matched-peer controlled study of science faculty at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) shows that an outside mentoring support program increased the number of peer-reviewed research publications, the number of federal grants, and the variety of professional and curricular activities of those who participated versus academic peers who did not.

John Sack has probably done as much as anyone to transform—or disrupt, depending on who is talking—the scholarly publishing business. As founding director in 1995 of HighWire Press, Sack was asked by Stanford University Press to see if research journals could dip a toe in the unknown but rising waters of the online world while still keeping their integrity and citable permanence dry. Sack plunged in. Today HighWire is the leading e-publishing platform, handling 1,732 scholarly journals, reference works, books, and conference proceedings, for scholarly publishers, large and very small.

 A new $5,000 prize funded by a leading biomedical technology company to honor research by a graduate student member of the ASCB will be the first competition judged in keeping with guidelines from the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which ASCB endorsed in June. Candidates for the ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter, Inc., an international biomedical systems manufacturer, will be evaluated on the discoveries they have made, not on the impact factors of the journals where the results have been published, according to ASCB President Don Cleveland.

Celldance 2013, ASCB's Really Useful Cell Biology Video Contest, has engineered a truly simple PDF download of the "Mad Mice" poster. Suitable for high-resolution color printers or screen savers, the "Mad Mice" poster serves a double purpose—it will make your lab bench or office space pop (graphically) and it reminds you to enter your short video that illustrates a basic cell mechanism or process by October 31.

There are more legendary places in science—Newton's apple tree or the bathtub of Archimedes—but of the real ones, there could be few more famous or harder to find than Thomas Hunt Morgan's Fly Room at Columbia University. This is the room where in 1910 Morgan and his students discovered "white" or w, the first sex-linked mutation in Drosophila melanogaster. Here began the modern era of quantitative biology and genetics. For a limited time, you can visit an uncanny version of the Fly Room itself, but only if you hurry to Brooklyn, NY.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 16:13

In Memoriam - Robert P. Perry

Robert P. Perry, who made his mark at the start of the DNA age with key work on RNA synthesis and was still at the leading edge 45 years later, publishing an evolutionary biology paper using bioinformatics to compare mouse and human ribosomal protein promoter genes, died July 15 at his home in Bucks County, PA. He was 82. Perry was best known for resolving the structure of the 5' cap on messenger RNA in the nucleus. He spent nearly his entire research career at what is now the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. He was a member of ASCB for 29 years and served on the ASCB Council from 1971-1973.

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