home page

ASCB Newsletter - July 1997

Congress Passes Budget

Following the ten-day Memorial Day break, House and Senate budget negotiators completed the FY’98 Budget Resolution. As reported earlier, the plan would balance the budget by 2002 through reductions in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, while simultaneously providing tax cuts. The plan serves as a blueprint for government spending for this year and beyond.

Moving quickly to enforce parts of the budget deal, the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Mean Committee passed, by a vote of 13-0, provisions cutting $115 billion in Medicare spending over the next five years. Much of the reduction will come in the form of lower payments to hospitals and HMOs. The Ways and Means Committee will also draft the tax-cutting legislation which will likely prove controversial.

Supplemental Appropriations Vetoed
NIH Peer Review - NIH Director Harold Varmus has announced that starting next year NIH grant proposals will include "innovation" as a new criterion. ASCB members have been intimately involved with the debate over valuing creativity and innovation and have contributed to this outcome.

For the past year, the Peer Review Oversight Group (PROG) has been debating merit review criteria and potential changes to the system. Varmus announced to the PROG in May that grants would be judged by five criteria: significance, approach, investigator, environment, and innovation. The change is to be effected next year.

Despite general cooperation on the FY’98 budget by both parties, there was little agreement on the emergency supplemental funding bill (HR 1469). A supplemental appropriations bill must be passed in order for money beyond that which is already appropriated to be spent in any given fiscal year. The bill, which was originally devised to fund Midwestern disaster relief and peacekeeping in Bosnia, grew into an $8.6 billion measure that would provide funds for the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and education grants, among other programs. Although the bill passed both Houses, the supplemental appropriation remained in conference until the Memorial Day break, forcing the House to break without an official recess and without having provided assistance to flood victims. There were many reasons the bill did not pass, including the controversial provision to create a permanent Continuing Resolution (CR), which would have allowed the government to remain open and operate at the previous year’s funding level even when the Congress is not able to pass its appropriations bills. President Clinton, Congressional Democrats, and many appropriators opposed the CR because it would weaken their leverage in negotiating appropriations legislation. Without the automatic CR provision, the government would shut down as it did two years ago if the appropriations bills are not completed or a temporary CR is not passed.

In the week following the Memorial Day break, both Houses completed the supplemental appropriations bill, barely passing it 220-201 in the House, and by a two-to-one margin in the Senate, but it was vetoed by the President due to the CR provision. The Congress then offered a stripped-down version of the bill minus the items that the Administration opposed. Both the House and Senate easily passed the revised supplemental bill, voting 348-74 in the House and 78-21 in the Senate. The President promptly signed it into law.

FY’98 Appropriations 802(b) Allocations Approved
Following the passage of the overall federal budget, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will begin work on the 13 appropriations bills which divide the budgeted funds among government programs. The first step is the "602(b) allocation," which determines how much money will be allocated to each subcommittee. On May 23, the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy asked the 2000 members of the Congressional Liaison Committee to contact their Senators and Representatives to urge them to support an adequate allocation to the subcommittees which fund science, including the Labor Health & Human Services (L-HHS) Subcommittee funding the NIH, and the VA-HUD Subcommittee, funding the NSF. It is currently being reported that the 602(b) allocation for L-HHS will be $79.6 billion in budget authority (the total amount of money an agency can spend) and $75.8 billion in outlays (the actual amount of cash expenditures.) This would enable the Subcommittee to in turn provide for an increase in NIH funding. Rep. John Porter (R-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee and a long time and passionate supporter of the NIH, has indicated that he hopes to be able to increase NIH funding by $700- $800 million for FY’98, compared to the current year, FY’97. It should be noted that even with a favorable 602(b) allocation, the Subcommittee must fund several other worthy programs, including education. During the budget negotiations between the President and Congressional leaders, it was agreed that education would be a priority over other discretionary (i.e. not defense, entitlements or debt service) needs, including biomedical research. The Subcommittee is not likely to vote on the appropriations bill until after the July 4 recess and it will not come to the House floor until before the August recess. The Senate L-HHS 602(b) is $100 million higher for outlays but $246 million lower in budget authority than in the House.

Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus
F. Alan (Rick) Horwitz of the Department of Cell & Structural Biology at the University of Illinois, and James Spudich of the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University, discussed How Cells and Molecules Move at the May 14 Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus. Among the participants were five Members of Congress: George Gekas (R-PA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Thomas Petri (R-WI), Joel Hefley (R-CO), and Steve Horn (R-CA).

The VA-HUD Subcommittee will receive $60.9 billion in budget authority in its 602(b) allocation. Similar to the L-HHS Subcommittee, there are multiple programs to fund within the VA-HUD Subcommittee, including expensive housing programs; this 602(b) allocation may be sufficient to include an increase for the NSF nonetheless.

Stearns Amendment to Create National Biomedical Research Fund
Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL), member of the House Commerce Committee, introduced an amendment to the Medicare portion of the Budget Agreement (OBRA’98), that would create a biomedical research trust fund similar to that proposed by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) in S 441. The amendment was withdrawn during the Commerce Committee mark up of the legislation, but was reintroduced in the Rules Committee prior to the full house voting on the bill. The amendment would create a trust fund financed by a 1% set-aside from the savings gained by Medicare reform over the next five years, providing an additional $1.15 billion for NIH research over five years. This same amendment is expected to be offered by Senator Tom Harkin during Senate consideration of the budget reconciliation provisions.

Elimination of Section 117(d) - Tax on Graduate Fellowships
The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Archer (R-TX), passed a provision in the tax bill which would eliminate Section 117(d) of the tax code. Section 117(d) makes tax free all tuition waivers made to graduate teaching and research assistants. The proposed legislation would reduce net graduate stipends by thousands of dollars. Student advocacy groups have mobilized, stating that the "tax proposal would dramatically increase tax burdens on graduate students making less than $15,000 per year." The Senate Finance Committee draft of the tax bill however does not call for any changes to 117(d). This provides the opportunity to retain the Senate version during conference between the two houses.

TIAA-CREF - Tax on Faculty Retirement Funds
The same House Ways and Means tax bill that would reduce the stipends to students would also repeal TIAA-CREF’s tax exempt status. University faculty are concerned about how this provision might affect their retirement savings. Several higher education organizations are working to reverse this provision when the House bill is negotiated in conference with the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee draft of the tax bill does not change the tax-exempt status of TIAA-CREF.

Reeve Endorses Specter/Harkin Legislation
On June 6, film actor and director Christopher Reeve testified before the Senate Appropriations Health & Human Services Subcommittee, calling for more medical research funding. Describing his ongoing recovery from the paralysis that resulted from an equestrian accident, Reeve explained that research is the only way doctors will be able to find a cure for his ailment and others. "Nearly a quarter-million Americans live with varying degrees of incapacity due to spinal cord injuries. How do we stop the economic and human cost of these diseases? The answer is research." He went on to state that he supports the bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the National Fund for Health Research Act (S 441). This bill would use a one percent charge on all health insurance premiums to provide incremental federal medical research funding (see April ASCB Newsletter). Senator Harkin thanked Reeve for his "eloquent" advocacy on behalf of medical research by commenting that, "Superman may have been science fiction, but the benefits from medical research are science fact." He went on to express his concern about the anticipated FY’98 budget with regard to health spending, which he said would be inadequate and therefore would require alternative funding mechanisms such as those proposed in S 441.

National Bioethics Advisory Commission
The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), which President Clinton asked to consider recent advances in cloning and to make recommendations regarding future research, has released its report. In developing its recommendations, the Commission solicited and received advice from the ASCB and several other prominent biomedical research societies.

The NBAC called upon Congress to pass legislation which would allow for limited research using cloned human embryos. The Commission recommends that researchers be allowed to clone such embryos, but be prohibited from implanting them in women. This approach imposes the same restrictions on researchers who receive private funds as those who receive public (e.g. NIH) funds. The former group was previously excluded from the government moratorium on cloning research.

Some members of the Commission were worried that such legislation could restrict useful research even beyond the point that such research might be proven safe. In response to these concerns, the Commission recommends that a sunset provision be added to the bill that will force the measure to be reviewed in three to five years.

Some critics of the Commission report feel that they should not have recommended legislation. There have been several bills introduced in Congress this year which attempt to restrict cloning, and it is unclear at this time how the NBAC recommendation will affect this proposed legislation and vice versa. Following the release of the Commission’s report, President Clinton sent proposed legislation to Congress based on the report’s recommendations.

On June 18, the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus held a briefing on Cloning by Lee Silver of the Molecular Biology Department at Princeton and Arthur Caplan of the Center of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus
Lee Silver, Professor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton, and Arthur Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, briefed the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus on the Future of Cloning on June 18. The photo at left shows Caplan(l) amd Silver(r) flanking Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). There was an overflow audience of 125, including Members of Congress, staff and press.



Market Research/Life Sciences Specialist. International data base marketing company seeks an individual to assist in life science market research projects. Entry level position, training provided. Candidate should have a degree in molecular biology, biochemistry or related discipline. Reply to: IMV, LTD., 6411 Ivy Lane, Suite 714, Greenbelt, MD 20770.

Visiting postdoctoral researcher to study baculovirus rearrangement and use of actin cytoskeleton. Ph.D. and research experience in actin biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology; virology helpful. Application deadline: August 15, 1997. Contact: Dr. Loy Volkman, 251 Koshland Hall, University of California,Berkeley, CA. 94720-3102. EOE/AA. Phone: (510) 642-4500, Fax: (510) 642-9017.

Postdoctoral positions available immediately in NIH-funded projects investigating the regulated expression of type I and III collagen genes during skeletal development. Our laboratory recently discovered unusual alternative transcripts of these genes that are expresssed predominantly in cartilage and prechondrogenic mesenchyme, and we are currently exploring both their function and the molecular mechanisms regulating their production. Candidates with a strong background in molecular biology may send curriculum vitae and names of three references to: Dr Sherrill L. Adams, Univ. Of PA, Dental Medicine, Dept. of Biochemistry, 4010 Locust Street, Phila., Pa. 19104-6002; or Fax (215) 898-3695. Univ. of PA. is an EOE/AA.

Postdoc: Mechanisms of injury in endothelial cells involving membrane ion transport sites; focus on Na/H antiport & altered gene expression of this protein in cell injury models. Experience in ion transport, fluorescent probes, basic molecular biology techniques desirable. Salary: $20-25K, depending on experience. Send resume: Dr. M. Cutaia, Res Svc, VA Med Ctr, University & Woodland Aves, Philadelphia PA 19104; (215) 823-4316. EOE/AA.

Do You Need a Postdoc, a Research Associate or Fellow?
Look to the ASCB first to fill a vacancy by placing your recruitment advertisement in the monthly ASCB Newsletter.

  • Low Rates: $7.50/line, 10-line minimum
  • High Readership: 10,000 research scientists
  • Precise Target: Experienced and qualified membership
  • Convenient Deadline: First of month preceding month of issue

Contact: Rick Sommer
Phone: (301) 530-7153
Fax: (301) 530-7139

Yale University Post Doctoral Position

The Laboratory of Joel L. Rosenbaum, Dept of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology seeks a postdoctoral fellow, to work on one of the following problems:


  1. Detachment of the flagella of the bi-flagellate alga Chlamydomonas results in the immediate upregulation of over 200 genes for flagellar proteins (tubulins, dyneins, radial spokes, etc). The research will center on the nature of the signal received by the cell indicating that its flagella are missing and will utilize the full molecular genetic potential of Chlamydomonas.
  2. Radial spokes, composed of about 17 polypeptides, are pre-assembled in the cytoplasm into multiprotein complexes prior to transport into the flagellum. The specific targeting of the spoke complex to the basal body/flagellum will be studied using a variety of radial spoke mutants and previously-cloned radial spoke genes.
  3. Once in the flagellum, some of the multi-protein complexes eg. radial spokes, are transported to the distal tip of the flagellum for assembly. We have described microtubule-based molecular motors (kinesins) required for this transport, called IFT (Intraflagellar Transport ). IFT is characterized by the movement of "rafts" of 16s particles, located between the flagellar membrane and microtubules; the particles are composed principally of new proteins not previously observed in the flagellum. The research is centered on the cloning and sequencing of the genes for these proteins and determining the role of the 16s-particle proteins in flagellar assembly/function.

Reference: Johnson and Rosenbaum. Trends in Cell Biology, May, 1993: Flagellar Regeneration in Chlamydomonas: "A Model System for Studying Organelle Assembly." Cole, Diener and Rosenbaum. Abstracts of 1996 ASCB Meeting, No. 272/273: "A flagellar heterotrimeric kinesin:Putative cargo revealed by analysis of ts mutants" and "Cytoplasmic precursors of flagellar radial spokes exist as large complexes".

Applicant should have PhD in Cell/Molecular Biology. Some initial support is available, but applicant will be required to apply for post-doctoral fellowship funding. Send applications to: Joel L. Rosenbaum, Dept. MCDB, Yale University, New Haven CT 06510. EOE/AA.


Effective Communication: The Science of Scientific Writing

A Workshop sponsored by the ASCB Education Committee, to be held Saturday, December 13 from 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM, at the Washington Convention Center

The Workshop focuses on scientists communicating with other scientists: writing grant proposals, writing articles for publication, writing research summaries, as well as preparing posters and lectures. The Workshop is appropriate to scientists of all levels. Graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty members will learn tools for addressing problems of presentation; senior scientists will find a new way of looking at their own presentations and strategies they can share with others. Scientists who speak English as a second language will have the opportunity to develop conscious awareness of structural cues that native English speakers have acquired unconsciously over many years.

Dr. Judith Swan, co-author of "The Science of Scientific Writing," earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and teaches scientific writing at Princeton University. She has presented workshops to students and scientists at various institutions, including Cornell Medical School, Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation, and the National Institutes of Health.

Cost to participate in this Workshop is $10. Payment should be included with your advance registration; see page 27 in the Call for Abstracts.


ASCB Placement Service

Request for Placement Service Forms
For the 1997 Annual Meeting

(Preregistration Deadline: November 3, 1997)


Please Indicate __ Employer __ Candidate Number of copies desired: ___

Send this form to the
ASCB National Office,
Placement Coordinator,
9650 Rockville Pike,
Bethesda MD 20814-3992
Phone: (301) 530-7153
Fax: (301) 530-7139

ASCB Placement Service
The ASCB Placement Service continues to provide an informal, "user-friendly" setting at the Annual Meeting in which candidates and employers can meet, exchange credentials, and conduct interviews.

This computerized service permits candidates to register with the Placement Service, completing a brief Information Form and a schedule of times available for interviews. As Placement Service registrants, candidates have access to notebooks of Employer Position Forms, a poster area containing position forms from newly registered employers, and a message center that allows them to send messages to employers and receive messages and individual interview appointments from employers.

Employers complete a brief Employer Position Form for each position they seek to fill. In the Employer Reading Room they have access to copies of Candidate Information Forms in notebooks and hanging files (for their personal use) and the complete ASCB computerized scheduling program. Data Processing Assistants match each employer's available times with those of the candidates and produce an interview time card (copies for employer, candidate, and file) giving date, time of interview and table at which the interview will occur. Additionally, employers may quickly pinpoint the candidates who best meet their requirements without having to review the candidate files by requesting a computerized search using the codes entered by candidates and employers on each application form. Message files are also available so that employers may receive candidate messages.

In 1997, two issues of the Placement Service brochures containing 70-word position and candidate information for registered employers and candidates, respectively, will be produced: a Pre-meeting Brochure, containing ads for candidates and employers who preregister with the ASCB Placement Service, and an On-site Brochure, produced at the close of Placement Service registration on Monday and available Tuesday. Brochures are available at the ASCB Booth in the Exhibit Hall, ASCB information tables, and the ASCB National Office headquarters at the Convention Center during the Annual Meeting.

ASCB Placement Service Hours
Candidates and employers may check for messages, request computerized searches and review notebooks and posters:
Saturday, December 13, 12:00 noon–6:00 pm
Sunday, December 14–Tuesday, December 16, 8:45 am–7:00 pm
Wednesday, December 17, 8:45 am– 3:30 pm

Candidates and employers may register with the Placement Service and begin their use of services:
Saturday, December 13, 12 noon–6:00 pm
Sunday, December 14–Monday, December, 15, 9:00 am–5:00 pm.

Interview Scheduling
Employers may use the computerized scheduling facilities:
Saturday, December 13, 2:00 pm–6:00 pm
Sunday, December 14–Tuesday, December 16, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

Scheduled interviews will be supervised by Placement Service staff:
Sunday, December 14, 2:00 pm–7:00 pm
Monday, December 15–Tuesday, December 16, 9:00 am–7:00 pm
Wednesday, December 17, 9:00 am–3:00 pm

ASCB Placement Service fees remain unchanged:
Candidate Fees Employer Fee:
ASCB Student Member - no charge Academic or non-profit institutions - $150
Non-ASCB Member Student - $20 Companies - $400
ASCB Member - $25
ASCB Nonmember - $70


Annual Meeting Sponsors

The ASCB is grateful to the first sponsors of the 37th ASCBAnnual Meeting:

  • Academic Press
  • Bristol-Meyers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund
  • Chroma Technology Corporation
  • Corning Costar Corp
  • Glaxo Wellcome
  • JEOL USA Inc.
  • The Rockefeller University Press / The Journal of Cell Biology
  • Worthington Biochemical Corp.
  • Carl Zeiss Inc., Microscope Division


WWW.Cell Biology Education

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to several websites of educational interest to the cell biology community. The Committee does not endorse nor guarantee the accuracy of the information at any of the listed sites. If you wish to comment on the selections or suggest future inclusions please send a message to Robert Blystone

  1. MIT Biology Hypertextbook: The homepage opens with a Table of Contents offering five choices. The Introduction describes how this site serves to supplement the introductory biology course at MIT. The Chapters section offers eleven choices including : Chemistry Review, Cell Biology, Photosynthesis, Mendelian Genetics, and Immunology. Paging into the chapter reveals a relatively complete outline for the selected topic. The Cell Biology chapter has a wide range of information covering organelle structure and function, membrane structure, receptors, and membrane transport. Thanks to Education Committee member Malcolm Campbell for pointing out this extremely useful site.
  2. Cell Biology: Advanced Microscopy for the Teaching Laboratory: This site advertises itself as follows: "provides methods and procedures for using fluorescence and video microscopy in undergraduate cell biology laboratories." The Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State is responsible for this educational resource. A collection of useful microscopy images is included as well as lab exercises from their student manual. One of the relevant topics presented is Intracellular Signaling: Measurement of Intracellular Calcium. This site offers a great place to gather modern teaching ideas using current microscopy techniques. Thanks to Education Committee member Mary Lee Ledbetter for this URL recommendation.
  3. BioLab Home Page: Jean Dickey of Clemson University began a list for biology educators in April of 1994. With nearly 500 participants, a wide range of teaching topics has been explored. Dickey has organized the various discussions and posted them to this website. Topics include fish anesthesia, simulated blood, spinach pigment chromatography, non-toxic DNA staining, labs without lab space, making models of tissues and organs, quantitative genetics labs, rootbeer recipes, and stomatal impressions. Other topic headings include Lab Philosophy, How to Improve Lecture Courses, Curriculum Issues, Software Reviews, and a list of homepages of college biology professors deeply involved in teaching. This is an excellent site to explore the subject of teaching college biology.
The above URLs were checked May 31, 1997.
This and all the previous ASCB columns reviewing educational websites with links to the sites may be found online

facebook twitter1 youtube linkedin