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ASCB Newsletter - January 1998


Do You Need a Postdoc, a Research Associate or Senior Colleague?

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

Grants and Opportunities Sceience and Technology Policy Graduate Student/Post-Doctorate Internship Program of the National Research Council

Internships are designed to engage science, engineering, medical, and law students in the creation of science and technology policy and to familiarize them with the interactions of science and government. The interns will spend about 10 weeks working in one of the commissions of the National Research Council or the programs of the NAS, NAE, or Institute of Medicine.

The 1998 summer internship program will occur from June 1, 1998 to August 7, 1998.
Candidates should submit the application available here along with one letter of reference (also on-line) meeting the requirements described at the web site. The deadline for receipt of materials is March 1, 1998. Decisions will be made in mid-March.

For more information contact Email; Fax (202) 334-1667 call (202) 334-2455 or write NRC Internship Program c/o Dr. Deborah D. Stine National Research Council, Room 242 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418.

A Postdoctoral Position is available starting Spring 1998 to join active group studying the translational regulation of Xenopus maternal mRNAs involved in meiotic maturation and early embryogenesis including the study of 3'UTR elements and RNA-binding proteins. Applicants must have excellent background in molecular biology. Experience in protein-RNA interaction and biochemistry would be desirable. Send CV to: Thomas Musci, Department of OB/GYN, University of California, San Francisco CA 94143-0556. Email. EOE/AA.

The Department of Otolaryngology-HNS at the University of Washington is seeking candidates for the non-tenure track position of Research Assistant Professor. The candidate should be a PhD with a background in anatomy and neurobiology. He/she should have at least 5 years postdoctoral experience in the study of hair cell regeneration in the avian species with complementary skills in cell culture, confocal microscopy, and molecular biology. Submit CVs to: Edwin Rubel, Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology-HNS, University of Washington, Box 357923, Seattle WA 98195. EOE/AA.

Postdoctoral Position. Universities Space Research Association (USRA) has immediate opening in the Biotechnology Advanced Technology group at NASA Johnson Space Center. PhD in bioengineering, cell biology, developmental biology, or related field required. Experience in mammalian tissue culture techniques, basic molecular biology methodology and mutagenesis assays required. Experience in tissue engineering and subculturing cells on scaffold materials desirable. Good written and oral communication skills required. Send CV, summary of research experience and 3 references by 4/1/98 to: T. K. Jones; USRA/DSLS; 3600 Bay Area Blvd; Houston TX 77058; Fax: (281) 244-2006; Email EOE/AA.

A Postdoctoral Research Fellow position is available for studies on the Dictyostelium Rap protein. This protein is a member of the Ras subfamily of monomeric G-proteins and is highly conserved in all eucaryotic species thus far studied (mammals, Drosophila, C. elegans, and Dictyostelium). Its role in the cell remains a mystery, but there is evidence that under certain conditions it can antagonize Ras function. The approach will be to ablate gene function and determine the consequence of this on growth and development and to search for interacting proteins. The position is funded by a Canadian MRC grant and is for at least two and possibly three years. Please submit application, cv, together with the names of three referees to: Dr. George Spiegelman, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, #300 6l74 University Boulevard Vancouver BC V6T lZ3. Phone. (604) 822-2036, Fax (604) 822-6041.

Postdoctoral Position. Our lab studies the cell biology & biochemistry of myosin assembly in Dictyostelium. Project will focus on regulation of myosin heavy chain kinases in this system (see JBC 272:11812 and JBC 272: 16904). Experience in protein biochemistry or biology of the cytoskeleton desired. Send two letters of recommendation and CV to Tom Egelhoff, Department. of Physiology, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland OH 44106-4970. Email EOE/AA.

Two Postdoctoral Positions are available immediately to study the sorting, secretion and function of neuroprotective peptides in neuroendocrine cells. Preferred candidates have previous experience with molecular cloning, mammalian cell culture, immunoassays and less than 5 years of postdoctoral experience. Lab info. Send CV and 3 letters of reference to: Sven-Ulrik Gorr, PhD, Department of Biological and Biophysical Sciences, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville KY 40292. EOE/AA.

Military Research Lab is Closing: Military contractor is selling at dramatically reduced prices its Perkin-Elmer PDS Microdensitometer; Joyce, Loebl microdensitometer; Sorvall ultra microtomes; Reichert Polycut S motorized sliding microtome; refrigerated and rotary microtomes; LKB knife cutter; AO knife sharpener; Gatan dual ion mill and stereo microscopes. For spec sheets, call (202) 544-0836.


Committee Report

The following posters, presented at the MAC poster session at the Annual Meeting, were recognized for scientific excellence by the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee. Monetary awards were provided by Pfizer, Inc. and the Leadership Alliance.

Andrew Medina-Marino, Swarthmore College
Honorable Mention: Jims Jean-Jacques, Boston University School of Medicine

Graduate Students
Erika T. Brown, University of Alabama, Birmingham
D.C. Ghislaine Mayer, University of Colorado
Honorable Mention: Althea Grant, Emory University

Postdoctoral Fellow
Jorges Gutierrez, University of California, San Francisco
Honorable Mention: Linda Johnson, University of Pennsylvania

Society Committees Meet
The following are reports of the Society Committees that convened during the Annual Meeting.

Public Information Committee Welcomes New Chair
Newly-appointed chair Kathy Wilson of the Johns Hopkins Medical School presided over the Public Information Committee. She succeeds founding Chair Bob Goldman of Northwestern University, who resigned his leadership position after six years of service. Goldman will continue to serve as a member of the Committee.

The goal of the Committee is to educate the public about science. At the Committee's urging, the Society has consistently supported the summer science writer's workshop at the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole. There was discussion about expanding this program to include Congressional staffers, but such a program would have to be separate from the existing Workshop involving members of the press. Members of the Committee will work to develop this proposal.

The group assessed the two ASCB press books that were developed in 1997: the 1997 ASCB Annual Meeting Hot Topics Press Book, and the 1997 ASCB Annual Meeting Selected Biomedical Abstracts. The Committee, which helped develop both publications, was particularly pleased with the Hot Topics book and suggested that it be sent to every Member of Congress. This was the first year of its publication; it was edited by Iris Kedar, an ASCB summer intern who is a medical student at Harvard. The Committee hopes to commission a similar booklet for next year's meeting, well in advance of the ASCB abstract deadline, which it felt would be best accomplished by an independent science writer. Also discussed were ways to develop television coverage of science topics.

Wilson described her highest priorities: (1) that a part time science writer be hired, and (2) that the ASCB Website be aggressively developed to promote public information by links to science, provide ideas for articles to free-lance writers, and sell t-shirts and other educational items to generate income for the Committee and Society. The science writer would work to promote the research of Society members as well as maintain the Website. Wilson will develop a detailed proposal to present to Council Goldman suggested that the ASCB should work with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to benefit from the AAAS's existing public information program.

MAC Introduces New Members, New Programs
J.K. Haynes presided over the meeting of the Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC). Haynes introduced new Committee members Virginetta Cannon of Morehouse College, Vincent Hollis of Howard University, and William Snell of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. New MAC member Jerry Guyden of the City College of New York was unable to attend. Special thanks were extended to retiring MAC members Dan Friend of Brigham & Women's Hospital, Ted Gurney of the University of Utah, Adolphus Toliver of the NIH, and Eugene Vigil of the NIH.

Haynes reviewed the 1998 budget and emphasized that programs funded by grants must meet the criteria of the program as described in the grant application. Haynes announced that the MAC has received permission from NIH/MARC to use unexpended 1997 grant funds to support summer students at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories and the Minorities Saturday Session prior to the ASCB Annual Meeting. Friday Harbor will share summer student costs with the ASCB.

Vice Chair Donella Wilson reviewed 1997 MAC activities, encouraging the Committee to build on previous successes. Using the Undergraduate Minorities Summer Fellowship listing as an example, Wilson encouraged Joe Hall to incorporate links to other summer program lists such as Howard Hughes and the National Science Foundation. Hall is enlarging the listing to include corporate and nonprofit programs, thus creating a comprehensive national resource.

David Burgess, former MAC member and incoming president of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) invited participation by the ASCB in the SACNAS Annual Meeting. He requested funds to support a platform presentation on a cell biology topic to be presented by a panel of three minority cell biologists and to support ten students to attend the meeting. The Committee expressed enthusiasm about participation in SACNAS activities and has budgeted funds to support a booth at the 1998 SACNAS meeting.

Joseph Mazurkiewicz of the Histochemical Society encouraged the continued support by the MAC of Histochemical Society Workshops. The Committee will continue its participation; Dan Friend, although no longer a Committee member, will continue to review the Workshop applications.

Andrea Morris of Princeton University reported on the 1997 Saturday Special Session for Minorities. Morris and Sonya Summerour of the University of California, San Diego, coordinated the Session, which was held in coordination with the 1997 Leadership Alliance Symposium. Over 100 participants representing undergraduates through established scientists participated.

Additional MAC programs discussed at the meeting include:

  • support for students at MBL summer courses. Applications by outstanding minority applicants will be encouraged by Committee members;
  • the I & G Foundation-sponsored Mentoring Workshop at the MBL. E-mail correspondence has been established between mentors and previous and current course attendees. Because the Mentoring Workshop was so successful, the MAC endorsed the idea of sponsoring a second one, to reach a larger audience;
  • applications for the 1998 Visiting Professorship program are being developed by Maria Elena Zavala. Scientists at research institutions as well as applicants to the program are being sought;
  • Vincent Hollis will serve as liaison to the Education Committee, and
  • the Minority Action Committee, a coalition of representatives of scientific societies, continues to work toward its goal of a comprehensive minorities database.

WICB Committee Launches Resource Bureau
The Women in Cell Biology (WICB) Committee meeting was chaired by Caroline Kane in the absence of Committee Chair W. Sue Shafer. Committee members reluctantly and with gratitude acknowledged the resignation of Shafer, as well as Laura Williams, WICB Section Editor for the ASCB Newsletter, and resolved to seek a new section editor to shape and direct the WICB column.

Column assignments were determined for the next six months.
Sue Wick reported that about 350 participants and table leaders were to meet at the third annual Career Options and Issues Lunch sponsored by WICB and the Education Committees. A higher percentage of participants are students than in previous years. Committee members were enthusiastic about the Junior and Senior Awards presentation to take place at the lunch. Table topics suggested for next year include biology and law; biology and business, science policy, and what to do with a Master's degree in science. Wick agreed to chair the lunch again in 1998.

Kane solicited the assistance of Committee members in establishing logistics for the evening WICB program, Couples in Cell Biology. The Committee agreed that written questions would be accepted by the moderator and read to the panelists, and that where possible, Committee members would follow up individual questions if time did not permit them to be presented during the meeting.

The Women's Resource Bureau is on the ASCB Website, providing a resource for meeting program chairs and others seeking women to serve as speakers, as review panelists, and for searches. The Committee thanked Kane and Sandra Masur for their work on this project. In addition to the agencies and organizations previously notified about the Resource Bureau, Committee members suggested that the American Women in Science (AWIS), Gordon Conference and European Molecular Biology Organization meeting chairs and the ASCB International Affairs Committee be asked to publicize the Resource Bureau and recommend European and Far Eastern women who could be invited to participate.

Education Committee Expands Role
Frank Solomon chaired the meeting of the ASCB Education Committee, which was attended by Committee members Robert Bloodgood, Robert Blystone, Joan Brugge, Malcolm Campbell, Sarah Elgin, Arthur Lander, Mary Lee Ledbetter, J. Richard McIntosh, Constance Oliver, Samuel Silverstein, Roger Sloboda, and Christopher Watters as well as ASCB President-elect Elizabeth Blackburn and Executive Director Elizabeth Marincola.

Solomon reported on the preliminary results of the ASCB Membership Survey undertaken by the Education Committee, which was commissioned in recognition that in order to impact education at the college and graduate level, it is necessary to know what responsibilities and skills are needed by the students being taught. Data collection and preliminary analysis of survey results have been completed. Preliminary findings will be published.

Solomon reported on the Panel organized by and for Postdoctoral Fellows during the Annual Meeting. The panel addressed the changed realities of postdoctoral careers in the 1990s and offered some suggestions on how to gain access to broader career opportunities based on a postdoctoral education. Solomon reiterated the commitment of the Education Committee to serve as a focus for postdoctoral concerns.

J. Richard McIntosh expressed ongoing interest in developing worthwhile roles for senior cell biologists away from the university. Committee members enthusiastically supported the need to explore options.

Additionally, the Committee discussed the following ongoing Education Committee projects:

  • The peer review group for lab exercises has reviewed materials available in other publications and will solicit prototype articles;
  • In 1998, the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) will meet in Reno, Nevada. Connie Oliver of the Office of Naval Research will identify potential speakers for the Current Topics in Cell Biology Symposium to be presented for the eighth year by the ASCB at the NABT Meeting;
  • Robert Bloodgood reported for the ASCB-Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS) team of Bloodgood, Malcolm Campbell and Mary Lee Ledbetter at the Project Kaleidoscope Workshop. The group continues to meet its action plan by developing Web links between education and science;
  • Whats in a Name? was made clear with the increased attendance at the Education Initiative Forum (renamed from Coffee Break Sessions). The Committee hopes the trend continues and will use the Ed/MAC Booth to publicize the Forum and to provide a location for continued discussions of Forum topics;
  • The Committee will begin development of a "How to" publication on Shared Positions, and
  • Council approved the Education Committee request to establish an award for excellence in teaching.

Public Policy Committee Discusses Funding, Cloning
The Committee, chaired by Paul Berg, reviewed the public policy events scheduled during the Annual Meeting. These included Congress 101: How and Why to Talk Science With Your Representative, a discussion forum with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and former ASCB President and Committee Chair Marc Kirschner; ÒPeer Review Changes at the NIH, a presentation by Ellie Ehrenfeld, Director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review and Keith Yamamoto, Chair of the NIH Peer Review Oversight Group (PROG), and the Fourth Annual Public Service Award presentation to Rep. George Gekas (R-PA).

The Committee agreed to pursue the idea raised at its last meeting to solicit nominations for the Public Service Award from the ASCB membership, utilizing a Subcommittee of the Public Policy Committee to review the nominations and develop a recommendation to the Council for the award (see page 23). Berg reported that Council had discussed the possibility of presenting the Public Service Award on opening night at the 1998 Annual Meeting.

The Committee reviewed recent proposed changes to Circular A-21, Office of Management & Budget policy, which could in particular effect animal research facilities. Berg had written a letter to the OMB opposing proposed new language which would require researchers who use animals to fully bear the costs of those facilities. There was also discussion about the NIH Basic Research Support Grant program, which has been unfunded for the past several years, but if revived could be a valuable resource to scientists in need of special research equipment. The Committee reviewed and approved the SocietyÕs existing required misconduct guidelines.

Marc Kirschner and Elizabeth Marincola described recent efforts at the NIH to analyze and address possible inhibitory effects of intellectual property rights on the progress of science (see page 23). Berg reported on recent activities regarding the Office of Alternative Medicine at the NIH.

Cloning policy was discussed; Berg reminded the Committee that he had responded on behalf of the Committee to the National Bioethics Advisory CommissionÕs (NBAC) request for the SocietyÕs position on cloning support of a ban on human cloning, which the NBAC had ultimately recommended in its final report. Berg also mentioned a recent article in the New York Times reporting on the activity of infertility firms which are gearing up to clone humans. Federal legislation to ban cloning was considered in 1997, but was not passed by Congress.

J. Michael Bishop and Tom Pollard reported on recent activities of the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy (JSC). Pollard noted that a history of the JSC had been written which described the legislative activities of the group. He introduced Donna Crane, who had been retained by the JSC to implement a district organizing pilot project in Pennsylvania. Crane indicated that the main goal of the project is to recruit scientists to work with their Members of Congress to advocate for funding for biomedical research. There are a total of 200 Pennsylvania scientists who are members of the coalition. Each has been provided with background materials on the budget, draft letters, and status information on current funding legislation.

Mike Bishop reported on the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus. In the previous year the Caucus hosted ten luncheon briefings, and average attendance had grown to over 80. He solicited suggestions from the Committee on ideas for briefings in 1998, and indicated that Speaker Newt Gingrich will attend the briefing that he had requested on Diabetes.

Joint Steering Committee Congressional Liaisons Peter Kyros and Belle Cummins reported that the Clinton Administration is finalizing its budget for FYÕ99. There is some concern that funding for basic biomedical research could be frozen at the FY 98 level. This concern led Kyros and Cummins to arrange a meeting in early December for ASCB Public Policy Committee member Keith Yamamoto and Executive Director Elizabeth Marincola with OMB officials to make the case for increased funding for the NIH in FYÕ99. Kyros and Cummins reported that there is momentum building in Congress to double the NIH budget over five years, but such action would have to address the restriction of budget caps, which suggest the need to propose alternative forms of funding such as from the tobacco settlement. The Committee then discussed their legislative strategy for the coming year.

Publications Committee Suspends Activity
1998 ASCB President Elizabeth Blackburn chaired a special meeting of the ASCB Publications Committee. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the future role and function of the Committee.

Blackburn and 1997 President Mina Bissell had earlier corresponded with Committee members, conveying the CouncilÕs request that the Committee make recommendations about its own future given its changed relationship with Molecular Biology of the Cell (which now reports directly to Council) and the Journal of Cell Biology (no longer associated with the ASCB), and in view of the resignation of Chair Marianne Bronner-Fraser.

Present at the meeting, in addition to Blackburn and Bissell, were Committee members Jean Schwarzsbauer, Susan Wente, Lorraine Pillus and Margaret Werner-Washburne. Elizabeth Marincola and Ro Kampman from the ASCB National Office, and Paul Matsudaira, Co-Editor of Methods in Cell Biology, were also present.

The Committee was reorganized under Bronner-Fraser's leadership to serve as a coordinator for publications that were being planned in other ASCB committees. It was envisioned that each member of the Publications Committee would shepherd a publication, including for example, revisions of the popular "How to" series.

Matsudaira recounted the history of the Methods in Cell Biology series, published by Academic Press, and its relationship to the Committee, indicating that he and Les Wilson, the other series Co-Editor, attended meetings of the Committee, which recommended ideas for future volumes and potential editors. He thought that the process had worked well and that the Committee had been influential in determining topics and editors.

After considerable discussion of the CommitteeÕs current status and purpose, there was consensus that in recent years the Committee has lacked sufficient long term and sustained purpose, as well as the infrastructure necessary, to conceptualize and complete the execution of publications. The consensus was that the bulk of Committee work was better suited to other committees from which ideas for publications originated.

The Committee determined therefore that the few projects still under the jurisdiction of the Publications Committee should be delegated to the authority of the Society committees from which they were generated, ensuring a greater vested interest in the projects as well as more active Committee membership.

It was furthermore agreed that the Publications Committee should be made dormant until a project of sufficient size and scope is proposed by Council or another ASCB Committee to require directed attention by the Publications Committee. At such a time, ad hoc membership could be established of persons interested in the specific project, with the chair for that ad hoc committee to be selected by the ASCB President as stipulated by the Society's Bylaws. Marincola suggested that the Publications Committee not be eliminated from the Society's Bylaws, but rather be left inactive, which would facilitate revitalization, should it be indicated in the future. To ensure continued coordination of publications among other committees, it was suggested that the ASCB staff Director of Publications should attend or otherwise work with other committees as appropriate.

Matsudaira suggested that the advisory function previously provided by the Publications Committee for the Methods series be redirected to the Education Committee.

The American Society For Cell Biology
Minorities Affairs Committee
1998 Visiting Professorship Awards

The American Society for Cell Biology Minorities Affairs Committee (ASCB MAC) announces the ASCB/MAC Visiting Professorship Awards. The purpose of the Awards is to support research at primarily teaching institutions that serve minority students and scientists.

Each professorship provides support of $12,000 plus $700 for travel expenses. $2,000 is awarded to the host institution for supplies.

This program will provide research support for professors at minority-serving institutions to work in the laboratories of members of the American Society for Cell Biology for an eight- to ten-week period during the summer of 1998.

The goal of the program is to give science instructors in primarily teaching institutions a research experience in cell biology or a related field. This is intended to provide experience with new research tools and techniques, and to allow visitors to enhance their research programs. In addition, a major goal of the Professorship is to establish long-term associations between the visiting professors and research-intensive universities. Another component of the program is for professors to enhance their teaching based on the summer research experience. Women and minority teachers and teachers in colleges and universities with a high minority enrollment are especially encouraged to apply for this professorship.

An application form listing professional background, research interests, description of the proposed summer research project, and projected follow-up activities upon completion of the project must be submitted by the research host and visiting professor. The ASCB National Office will provide professors with the names of interested ASCB host scientists upon request.

For an application form, contact Dot Doyle at the American Society for Cell Biology: Phone: (301) 530-7153; Fax: (301) 530-7139; Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814-3992.

In conjunction with the Visiting Professorship Awards the ASCB MAC seeks ASCB members to act as hosts to these faculty members by providing laboratory space and advice in carrying out a research project. In particular, research scientists are sought who are interested in maintaining an association with the visiting scientists even after they return to their home institution.

Scientists interested in participating in this program should contact Dot Doyle at the American Society for Cell Biology: Phone: (301) 530-7153; Fax: (301) 530-7139;9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814-3992.


Council Report
Training and Postdocs
1997 President Mina Bissell and 1998 President Elizabeth Blackburn indicated that they had both invested significant time in the previous months talking with post-docs and developing an understanding of the career issues faced by scientists in training and their broader implications for the Society. The important and growing role of the ASCB Education Committee in these issues was acknowledged, and there was consensus that the Council itself should designate more time to considering the challenges facing young investigators. Education Committee Chair Frank Solomon presented the preliminary results of the ASCB Membership Survey sponsored by the Education Committee. Blackburn indicated that working with the Education Committee to direct the time and attention of Society leadership and membership, as well as other Society resources, to training and career issues, is among her highest priorities as President.

Setting ASCB Policy and Improving Coordination Between the Society and Its Representatives to Other Organizations
The Council discussed its participation in other organizations, how Society policy is established, and how to best coordinate Society positions with other organizations' policies when they differ. Several improvements to current practice were suggested: 1) that when recruiting ASCB representatives to other organizations, the representative be briefed upon recruitment on the major existing relevant Society positions; 2) that the Society make an effort to select representatives who have been involved in Society activities and, where applicable, position development; 3) to allow representatives reasonable latitude to deviate from a defined position in the course of deliberation with representatives from other organizations, but that they brief Council as soon as possible if a position different from the Òsense of the CouncilÓ is reached; 4) that the Council itself designate more attention to considering Society policy, initially or as recommended by a Society committee, and 5) that representatives to other organizations be invited to attend ASCB Council meetings as appropriate in order to participate in the position development process. It was also suggested that a subcommittee of the Public Policy Committee might be formed to consider and make recommendations to Council on important policy issues (an idea originally proposed by Ursula Goodenough.) There was agreement that Council itself preferred to initially attempt to serve this role, reserving the option to activate such a subcommittee should it become indicated in general or for a particular issue.

Annual Meeting Organization Policy Revisions
Secretary George Langford presented a proposal to Council to require electronic submission of abstracts for the Annual Meeting, the main attraction being that electronically-submitted abstracts are fully searchable. Council determined that for 1998, rather than requiring electronic submission, a financial incentive to submit electronically would be offered, and that submitters would be advised of the Society's intention to convert to an electronic requirement over time. Council directed that for 1998, the electronic abstract submission fee would be set $10 lower than the paper submission fee, with the goal of phasing in all-electronic submission over two or more years.

Councilor Mary Beckerle reported for the Ad Hoc Subcommittee appointed in May, 1997, which was charged with considering issues of Minisymposium organization and to review abstract submission guidelines. The Subcommittee, chaired by Beckerle, also included Douglass Forbes, George Langford, Tony Mahowald, Elizabeth Marincola and Pam Silver. Their recommendations were discussed at length by Council and approved as follows:

  • about thirty abstracts were rejected by abstract reviewers in 1997 because they were considered predominantly commercial in nature. The Subcommittee recommended that current guidelines for abstract submission should be clarified so that scientists who wish to promote a particular commercially available product are encouraged to participate in the meeting as an exhibitor, while scientists from all sectors, including industry, are correspondingly encouraged to submit abstracts that report new scientific research developments;
  • existing policy retaining the right to sponsor abstracts as a privilege of membership in the ASCB was reaffirmed;
  • the current Minisymposium format of two co-chairs, a 15-minute introduction and six twenty-minutes talks was also reaffirmed, and
  • it was further recommended that co-Chairs be given specific directive to select at least three of the six speakers in each Minisymposium from among the submitted abstracts.

1997 Annual Meeting
2662 regular and 129 late abstracts were presented in association with the 1997 Annual Meeting; 435 exhibit booths were rented (see box page 1 for more Annual Meeting statistics.) Councilor Elizabeth Raff noted that loyalty plays a significant part in the success of Society membership as well as in meeting attendance. Douglass Forbes, 1997 Program Chair, was commended for the excellent scientific program that was organized.

1998 Annual Meeting
1998 Program Committee Chair and incoming Councilor Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz presented preliminary suggestions for the 1998 Annual Meeting in San Francisco based on a series of conference calls of the Committee. Blackburn reminded the Committee of the importance of including outstanding speakers who are women and minorities. Councilors and all ASCB members are encouraged to contact Lippincott-Schwartz with suggestions before the program is finalized in late Winter.

Langford presented 976 new candidates to Council for admission to Society membership; all were approved (see pages 30-32.) He asked Council to observe a moment of silence in memory of ASCB members deceased since the Spring, 1997 meeting of Council: Barbara Bowman, Richard Bunge, Ruth Sager, Berta Scharrer, David Silbert and the Rev. W. D. Sullivan. Langford noted the new membership application mechanism implemented for the first time at the 1997 Annual Meeting. This option allows non-members to register on-site for the meeting at member rates if they declare their intention to apply for membership for the following calendar year, and pay non-refundable dues for that year upon meeting registration.

Marincola reported on the membership retention effort undertaken by members of Council earlier in the year, where Councilors wrote personally to members whom they knew, asking them to renew their membership for 1997. Over one hundred members who had not responded to three successive dues renewal notices did renew their dues after receiving a letter from a member of Council.

Support of Outside Meetings
Mina Bissell appointed an Ad Hoc Subcommittee, to be chaired by Ira Herskowitz and including Councilors Mary Lee Ledbetter and James Nelson, to develop a recommendation to Council for a Society policy on responding to re-quests for support of meetings organized outside the ASCB. Currently the Society has no policy governing the response to such requests.

Finance Report
Treasurer Carl Cohen reported on the audited results of the fiscal year ended March 31, 1997. Revenues exceeded expenses by over $500,000, most of which has been deposited in the Society's investment account. Cohen reported that the Society is approaching its goal of building savings to the level of half the Society's annual operating budget. Councilors Mary Beckerle and Richard Hynes suggested that Council may wish to reconsider its conservative investment guidelines in anticipation of reaching that goal. Cohen pointed out that although Society investments had grown considerably over recent years, the Society's net worth is still relatively modest. The Society will seek advice from its auditors to establish a goal for its net worth. Efforts will be made to determine the factors that influence Annual Meeting attendance, revenues, expenses and exhibitor turnout in order to optimize the scientific excellence of and financial return from each Society Annual Meeting. Cohen drew attention to the finances of the Society's journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell, noting the uncertainty of the financial impact of the publication of MBC Online, and urging that the Council monitor journal finances closely. Cohen presented the budget as proposed by the Finance Committee for FYE99, which was approved as recommended.

Molecular Biology of the Cell
David Botstein, Editor-in-Chief of MBC, reported that there had been a 33% increase in submissions and 25% increase in number of papers published in 1997 compared to 1996. He acknowledged the launch of MBC Online, and thanked Richard Hynes, who chaired the Ad Hoc Subcommittee of Council which analyzed online publishing options and recommended implentation to Council. Botstein indicated the importance of inter-journal linking and other features of the online journal, noting the value that it provides to authors and readers. Botstein suggested that the Society consider offering accommodation of material on video for electronic publication. Bissell and Botstein announced the resignation of Ro Kampman, Managing Editor of MBC, and presented her with a plaque recognizing the importance of her contributions to enabling the success of the journal (see page 5).


Gekas Receives Public Service Honor

Congressman George W. Gekas is being honored tonight for his extraordinary commitment to and activities on behalf of basic biomedical research.

Mr. Gekas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 17th district in Pennsylvania in 1982. He was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and earned his undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1952. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned to Dickinson as a law student, receiving his J.D. in 1958. Prior to becoming a Member of Congress he was elected Assistant District Attorney for Dauphin County, Pennsylvania (1960-1966), a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1966-1974) and served as a Pennsylvania State Senator (1976-1982). His success and popularity are attested to by his record of having been elected to an eighth term in the House on November 5, 1996, winning 72% of the vote.

Congressman Gekas is the Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. He is recognized as a leading authority on anti-crime measures and is also a major proponent of bipartisan regulatory reform. He is currently seeking passage of his Regulatory Fair Warning Act, a bill that guarantees due process for the public in disputes with federal agencies. Last year Congressman Gekas was the sponsor of the Government Shutdown Prevention Act which would have prevented government shutdowns resulting from the failure of the Congress to complete annual funding measures. As the current 105th Congress came to a close this November, Mr. Gekas received national recognition for successfully proposing to the House Judiciary Committee that the majority table a bill to end affirmative action programs in the federal government. Mr. Gekas stated that he viewed the legislation as too divisive and racially polarizing. Civil rights leaders Kweisi Mfume, Jesse Jackson and Rep. John Conyers cheered the action by Mr. Gekas.

Congressman Gekas established himself as a champion of biomedical research in 1989 when, together with Representatives Sonny Callahan, Bill Richardson and Roy Rowland, he organized the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus. Many said that it would never fly; an experienced appropriations staffer assured us that it wouldn't last for two briefings Congressman Gekas during this eighth year of the Caucus chaired its 60th briefing with ever greater attendance and interest from Congressional leadership. Of those 60, briefings Mr. Gekas has personally chaired 59.

The Caucus however is not the Congressman's only manifestation of support for medical research and development. When he learned of a crisis in the availability of common medical devices such as pacemakers, heart valves, catheters and even sutures, he acted immediately by introducing the Biomaterials Access Assurance Act (H.R. 872) to guarantee the flow of biomedical devices to the American public while protecting a patient's right to sue for defects in those devices.

This past year he introduced three very important pieces of legislation relating to funding for biomedical research. The first, House Resolution 83, expresses the sense of the House that NIH funding should double in five years, following a similar resolution passed in the Senate. There are currently some 30 co-sponsors of Mr. Gekas' bill, including Congressman John Porter, the Chair of the Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, another champion of biomedical research and a former recipient of this Award. Congressman Porter has joined in strong support of H.Res. 83, urging passage by the Fall in the House.

Mr. Gekas also introduced H.R. 3030, which redirects former tax deductions from tobacco lawsuits into basic research. This bill would raise an estimated $100 billion over 25 years for biomedical research. Finally, on the same night that the House passed the 7.1% increase in the NIH budget for FY'98, Congressman Gekas introduced his most ambitious bill, H.R. 2889, establishing a Presidential-Congressional Commission to advise the Congress on a strategy for the global eradication of disease. This bold plan was inspired by the historian David McCullough, who addressed Members of the 105th Congress at the bi-partisan retreat in Congressman Gekas' home district last February, calling for a new goal for America in the next century. Congressman Gekas views biomedical research as the engine for ridding the world of the debilitating effects of disease and is devoting his energies to promoting that vision.

Tonight we commend Congressman George Gekas of Pennsylvania for his leadership of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, and for his passionate belief in and untiring efforts on behalf of biomedical science.

The ASCB Public Policy Committee solicits nominations for the 5th annual ASCB Public Service Award for outstanding national leadership in support of biomedical research.

Past awardees are Senator Tom Harkin, Congressman John Porter, Marc Kirschner and Congressman George Gekas.

Any ASCB member may submit a nomination.

Send letter of nomination to: The American Society for Cell Biology Public Policy Committee
c/o Elizabeth Marincola
ASCB Executive Director
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814

Letters of Nomination must be received by March 31.


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. Bill Wasserman's Developmental Biology Page
    Bill Wasserman, an ASCB member at Loyola University of Chicago (Lake Shore Campus) has put together a site that has excellent resources for developmental biology students. The site opens with three choices: information, journals, movies & pictures. The information page lists eight broad developmental biology topics: general, Arabidopsis, Caenorhabditis, Drosophila, Mammalian, Sea Urchin, Xenopus, and Zebrafish. Each of these topics has links to very valuable resources including U. Wisc, Purdue, Calgary, Stanford, U. Penn, Harvard, U. Minn, U. Texas, etc. Students have access to a wide range of teaching and research oriented material. The journal choice links to seven journal pages including the following: Development, Genes and Development, and Mechanisms of Development. The third choice links to a number of sites that have pictures and movies of developmental interest. Many are from Jeff Hardin's site at U. Wisc. which was previously reviewed here. Topics covered include: Drosophila mRNA/ Protein Localization; Xenopus oocyte maturation; meiosis in human spermatocytes and oocytes, sea urchin egg activation; mammalian blastocyst implantation; neurulation and neural fold closure; and human eye development. The organization of the site is very clean and undergraduates should be able to navigate the site easily. The page could be coordinated with lecture or lab materials in a straightforward way. Thanks to ASCB Education Committee member Malcolm Campbell for calling attention to this relatively new site.
  2. Laboratory Safety
    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute Website continues to add very valuable features. This page contains information concerning lab safety for both the teaching and research lab. The site opens with four choices: Safety Information; Training Materials; Emergency Response Guidelines; and Help in Laboratory Hazard Recognition. A number of Lab Chemical Safety Summaries can be obtained on line. HHMI lists three videos (Practicing Safe Science, Controlling your Risks: HIV in the Research Laboratory, and Safety in the Research Laboratory) which may be obtained for no charge. The instructions for ordering these videos are listed on the page. Another section gives highly useful information for emergency responses including fire, radiation spills, chemical spills, and biological spills. Good reading for students starting work in a research or even a teaching lab. Additional videos dealing with emergency response are again described and available. The section on identifying laboratory hazards is still under construction. This site is worth your time, especially if you are responsible for lab safety.
  3. HAPS homepage
    Members of the ASCB Education Committee are often asked about the availability of educational materials for cell biology. This Web column is a response to these questions. The above site is for the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) whose function is to "... promote communication among teachers of human anatomy and physiology...". The site is hosted by Penn State and John R. Waters serves as the focus point for the page. The editor of this column would appreciate comments as to how the ASCB Education Committee could better serve members who as a major responsibility teach undergraduate cell biology. You might peruse the HAPS homepage for possible ideas. Please send correspondence to Robert Blystone

These sites were checked January 5, 1998.
This and all the previous ASCB columns reviewing educational websites with links to the sites may be found through the ASCB website.

-- Robert Blystone for the ASCB Education Committee

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