Yale professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and ASCB member, Joan Argetsinger Steitz has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK. Steitz was an early pioneer in RNA biology, discovering much of the machinery and key players in RNA splicing. She went onto elucidate the role of small nucleic ribonucleoparticles (snRNPs or "snurps") in modifying non-coding introns and continues her work on microRNAs in gene regulation. The Royal Society membership joins a long list of Steitz's honors and awards including the Gairdner International Award in 2006 and the ASCB's highest scientific honor, the E.B. Wilson Medal, in 2005.
ASCB President-Elect Peter Walter, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is the co-winner of the 2014 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine. Walter, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will share the $1 million Shaw Prize with Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University for their work on the unfolded protein response (UPR), the cell's quality control response to an accumulation of defectively folded proteins.
David L. Spector of the Cold Springs Harbor Lab (CSHL), a scientist long known for his pioneering work in live cell imaging of the nucleus and its surprisingly fluid geography and population, has been named to a pair of prestigious memberships, one in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the other in EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization. Spector, who is both a professor and Director of Research at CSHL, has been an ASCB member since 1980. He chaired the ASCB Annual Meeting program committee in 2008 and served on ASCB's governing Council from 2010 to 2012.
The Big Day dawns at last. As the sun heaves itself out of the Atlantic Ocean this morning and Boston stirs to life, the Dicty World Race will roar into action in the Massachusetts General Hospital lab of Dan Irimia. Twenty teams have sent in their finely tuned racing organisms to settle the question of which will be faster in a race against the clock through a microfluidic maze, the Dictyostelium discoideum a.k.a. Dicty, the slime mold with a vast reputation (and literature), or a human neutrophil-like cell line called HL-60. You can follow the action live here.
The first line of Franklin Carrero-Martínez's CV is a showstopper—"Scientist, Diplomat and Educator with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology." But he comes by all of it honestly. As of this writing, Carrero- Martínez, who is in his second year as a AAAS Science & Technology (S&T) Policy Fellow, is in Mexico City. He has been officially posted for two months to the U.S. Embassy there by the U.S. State Department to advise on Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) issues, including working on a Mexican version of our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) technology transfer program. It's a policy level program to encourage Mexican researchers to bring new ideas out of their academic laboratories and into real world applications. U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed on sharing this and other technology ideas in talks last May. As a Senior Science Policy Advisor in the Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary (STAS for those keeping acronym score), Carrero- Martínez is in Mexico City to make it happen.
Before that, Carrero-Martínez held the Pakistan S&T portfolio at both the U.S State Department and the U.S. National Academies of Science. That was during his first year in Washington as a Roger Revelle Fellow in Global Stewardship, a special AAAS policy fellowship program for early career faculty. As a Revelle Fellow, Carrero-Martínez was free to find his own placements. He ended up with two and with two offices—one at the State Department and one at the U.S. National Academy of Science (NAS). In both places, Carrero-Martínez picked up the Pakistan S&T portfolio, which was an orphan. "I guess no one wanted Pakistan because it was so hard. But I found it not to be too difficult. I guess I enjoy the higher adrenalin of dealing with complex issues and walking that line."
If cells were cars, then the three pioneering cell biologists just named winners of the 2014 E.B. Wilson Medal, the highest scientific honor of the American Society for Cell Biology, helped write the essential parts list. William "Bill" Brinkley of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, John Heuser of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Peter Satir of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx identified crucial pieces of the cytoskeleton, the cell's shape-shifting framework, and showed how these elements drive life at the cellular level.
Tim Mitchison, former ASCB President and deputy chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, was one of 84 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). New members are elected annually by current members based on their research achievements. The NAS was established in 1853 by an Act of Congress with the goal of its members giving objective, independent advice on science and technology to the nation. Five hundred members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes.
After a month of online voting by ASCB members, Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), was voted 2015 President-Elect. Walter, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will serve on the ASCB Executive Committee next year before becoming President in 2016 and continuing on as Past President in 2017.
Forget the Super Bowl. If you want to draw a HUGE crowd, throw a science and engineering open house in the Washington, DC, convention center. But get ready to stand back. This weekend, the USA Science & Engineering Festival attracted over 325,000 fans. Yes, you read that correctly—325,000 kids and adults turning out for a science event. Inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, they loaded up on gumdrop molecules or paper mutant Drosophilae. They wore Eppendorf tubes of precipitated DNA around their necks or carried plastic condiment cups filled with soil and germinating seeds. Some had "infection" stickers on their shirts, part of a Virus Tracker game to illustrate disease transmission. Fortunately for the massive crowd the event had more than 3,000 science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) activities inside the cavernous center waiting to soak up their attention.
The Kaluza Prizes to honor the best in graduate student bioscience research are growing. In announcing the opening of the 2014 Kaluza Prize competition, the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), in collaboration with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, said that the awards will increase to $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000 in ranked order for the top three winners.