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ASCB Newsletter - September 2000

Tilghman, Hicke Named to WICB Awards

Shirley Tilghman of Princeton University and Linda Hicke of Northwestern University were named by the Society’s Women in Cell Biology Committee to receive the annual WICB awards at the 40th Annual ASCB Meeting in San Francisco this December.

Tilghman, who will receive the Senior Award, was cited for her significant contributions to mouse genetics by combining emerging technologies with systematic science, and for her exemplary training of scientists and her broad service to the biomedical research community.

Hicke, an Assistant Professor at Northwestern, will receive the Junior Award for her vigorous research program in molecular and genetic analysis of receptor-mediated endocytosis.


Report Of The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee

MAC Leadership Considers Progress, Challenges
As we enter the new millennium, the Nation continues to be faced with the problem of significant underrepresentation of minority groups in the professions. In the future, science and technology will be an even greater driving force in society than at present, and groups underrepresented in the science and technology workforce will be at an even greater disadvantage than today. According to projections, by the year 2050, minorities will be the majority in the U.S. If at the same time we achieve only marginal increases in the number of minorities in the science workforce, the Nation may find itself at peril.

At stake is the competitive advantage that we currently enjoy in scientific research, technology and business with foreign countries. Of even greater importance is the prospect that a significant fraction of our populace will not enjoy the full benefits of the scientific revolution, including the biomedical research into diseases that disproportionally affect minorities, diseases which minority scientists are far more likely to study. The consequences of continued underrepresentation of minorities in the science workforce are even more farreaching, impacting, for example, the science literacy of minority groups and thus compromising the full fledged participation of minorities as citizens.

Minority pre-college level and college students are responding to the challenge to obtain higher education and to pursue scientific careers, including engineering. The percentage of minority high school graduates is at an all-time high: in 1993, of almost 45,000 science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, approximately 12% of the total were earned by minority students. Between 1990 and 1994, the number of B.S. degrees awarded underrepresented minorities increased by 46% 1.

Yet, when one examines the data on the Ph.D., the picture is far less encouraging. In 1995, only 207 Ph.D. degrees were awarded to underrepresented minorities in the biomedical sciences, representing just 4% of the 5,370 Ph.D.s awarded in these areas of science. The number of Ph.D.s awarded to minorities in science and engineering did not change significantly between 1982-19952. A recent report from the AAAS indicates that while there was little change in black graduate school admissions and a slight increase in Hispanic admissions in 1994-96, in 1997 there was a precipitous decline in the admissions of blacks (20%) and of Hispanics (18%) to graduate school3. The authors of this report attribute this decline to uncertainties among admissions committees about what forms of affirmative action are legal. Of course with the striking down of affirmative action in the country’s largest state and its serious consideration elsewhere, fewer minorities are expected to flow through the pipeline, thus worsening an already poor situation. Since the Ph.D. is essential for faculty positions in academia and positions of independence in industry, these data do not bode well for the future.

In addition to barriers limiting entry of minority students to graduate school, an evident oversupply of biomedical scientists seeking independent positions has the potential to limit the entry of minority scientists into the workforce, particularly in academics where the few minorities there serve as critical models to young people. We are currently producing Ph.D. scientists at a rate that is four times greater than that in 1963, and almost all of this growth is in the biomedical sciences4. But jobs in the academic community, government and industry have not kept pace. A committee of the National Research Council has recommended freezing the number of Ph.D. students at the current level5. While this seems to be a reasonable strategy for biomedical scientists at large, it could, in combination with the continuing challenges to affirmative action, lead to a substantial decline in the number of minority Ph.D. candidates in the biomedical field.

Professional scientific societies are increasingly being viewed as an untapped resource of enormous potential benefit in addressing the underrepresentation of minorities in science. We, the scientists who constitute the membership of these societies, are the “gate-keepers” to the entry of young persons into the field in their roles as members of graduate department admissions and tenure committees and as members of grant panels and editorial review boards. The leaders of these societies, who are typically recognized for their scientific contributions, have an opportunity to bring to the attention of members issues of societal concern, including the quality of education in the Nation’s public schools and the importance of diversity in the scientific workforce. In this regard, the ASCB has become a leader among biomedical societies. The recently completed survey of members, for example, has been a clarion call to reform graduate education so that it is more realistically prepares students for the real job market6. Inclusion in the ASCB Statement of Objects of “promotion and development of careers of historically underrepresented constituencies in biomedical research, including minorities and women,” demonstrates the level of support of Society leadership enjoyed by MAC. As a result of this leadership, the MAC benefits from the support of the Society’s membership, which in turn has been very helpful in our efforts to provide significant opportunities for minority science students and scientists to enter the mainstream.

Over the years, the MAC has provided increased opportunities for minority students to acquire cutting-edge knowledge in cell biology and for minority scientists to network with and obtain critical comments on their research from their peers. It has also brought to the ASCB membership’s attention the achievements of well-established underrepresented minority scientists through a plenary session at the ASCB Annual Meeting, which is named for E.E. Just. No other professional biomedical society can make this claim. Without the efforts of the ASCB MAC, it is likely that there would be far less diversity among the students enrolled in courses at the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole and among the attendees at the Annual Meeting of the ASCB. We are pleased that we have been able to provide financial and mentoring support to over 100 minority students who enrolled in courses at Woods Hole during the fifteen years that we have been funded by the MARC Program.

ASCB members are encouraged to actively participate in MAC activities by referring minority students to programs, attending MAC-sponsored functions at the Annual Meeting and actively mentoring minorities students.

—J.K. Haynes, Chair, and Donella Wilson, Vice Chair,The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee


  1. Burgess, D. (1997) Are Foreign Students Displacing Minorities in Biomedical Graduate Education? The Journal of NIH Research 9: 17-20.
  2. Burgess, Ibid.
  3. Malcom, Shirley, Virginia V. Van Horne, Catherine D. Gaddy, Yolanda S. George (1998) Losing Ground: Science and Engineering Graduate Education of Black and Hispanic Americans, Washington, D.C., The American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  4. Wadman, M. (1998) Jobs Crisis Sparks Call for Freeze on Number of Ph.D. Students in the US. Nature 395: 103.
  5. Tilghman, S. et al. (1998) Trends in the Early Careers of Life Scientists: Preface and Executive summary. Molecular Biology of the Cell 9: 30073015.
  6. Marincola, E. and F. Solomon (1998). The Career Structure in Biomedical Research: Implications for Training and Trainees. Molecular Biology of the Cell 9: 3003-3006.


MAC at the ASCB Annual Meeting

Thirty-two minority students, postdocs and young scientists will receive travel awards to attend the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco this year. This is the first national meeting for many award recipients and the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee seeks to enhance the experience with mentoring and networking programs in addition to the in-depth science that award recipients will enjoy.

In 1996, the MAC initiated a mentoring symposium at the ASCB Annual Meeting. The Symposium (previously called the Saturday Special Session for Minorities) has grown from about 46 attendees in 1996 to over 100 in 1999. It seeks to foster networking and career skill and advancement opportunities for all attendees. The symposium, organized by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, is chaired this year by Conrad Messam of the NINDS/ NIH, Ghislaine Mayer of the NIAID/NIH, and Sonya Summerour Clemmons of San Diego.

An important requirement of recipients of MAC travel awards is presentation of a poster at the Minority Poster Session in addition to the general poster session. The special session provides opportunities for minority meeting attendees to showcase their science and to network with ASCB Councilors and other meeting attendees. Minority scientists and students who are not recipients of travel awards but are attending the meeting are also invited to participate. Poster presentations are judged by MAC members for originality of research and clarity and logic of presentation.

On Sunday, the MAC recognizes travel award recipients and poster awardees at a luncheon, attended by Councilors, awardees and minority meeting attendees. Virginetta Cannon of Morehouse College chairs this program. A 1999 postdoc participant commented, “the luncheon was ... a great opportunity to sit down and talk to other scientists. At a conference that is so large, it is nice to be able to talk to other minority scientists and to see what their research interests are. I think that in a sea of so many people we can very quickly become lost.”

Minorities activities at the Annual Meeting culminate on Sunday with the E.E. Just Lecture, which recognizes an eminent minority scientist. Lydia Villa-Komaroff of Northwestern University will present the 2000 E. E. Just Lecture. The lecture honors early twentieth century African American biologist Ernest E. Just.


American Society for Microbiology to Organize MARC/MBRS Meetings

The American Society for Microbiology has been awarded an NIGMS grant to organize the 2000–2005 Minority Access to Research Careers/ Minority Biomedical Research Support Symposium for undergraduate and graduate students from minority groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences or behavior sciences, including mathematics. Clifford Houston of the University of Texas Medical Branch and the ASM Education board will chair the program. JK Haynes, Chair of the ASCB MAC, has been an active participant in development of this grant proposal.

The MARC/MBRS Symposium will be held this year in Washington, D.C from Wednesday through Sunday, November 8-12.

Strategies for Change: The MAC Linkage Fellows Program
The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) recently launched the Linkage Program, which targets minority students from Minority Serving Institutions for educational and career opportunities that have traditionally been more successfully accessed by minority students from large majority institutions. Fellows are selected at the targeted institutions to serve as links to the home institution, its students, faculty and administration, and the ASCB MAC.

The Linkage Fellows met recently at the MBL to assess current capabilities of each participating institution and to develop strategies that would enhance research training, thus increasing the number of minority students entering graduate schools. Research issues relevant to primarily teaching colleges and universities, including minority serving institutions, were discussed. Potential strategies developed include:

  • Refinement and implementation of assessment tools and other tracking mechanisms for graduates;
  • Motivation and development of undergraduate research programs such as MARC, Sloan, MBRS and corporate-sponsored opportunities;
  • Participation in undergraduate and graduate research opportunities;
  • Development of realistic expectations and evaluations for the role of faculty productivity;
  • Early implementation of mentoring activities for undergraduate and graduate students;
  • Modification of the curriculum to include state-of-the-art research on multidisciplinary issues, and
  • Provision of career counseling for graduates.


MBL Reception and Luncheon

Awardees were introduced to ASCB members working at the MBL during a reception and luncheon. The annual event, hosted this year by MAC Chair JK Haynes of Morehouse College and former ASCB Secretary George Langford of Dartmouth College, was attended by over forty MBL faculty and ASCB members. Honored guests included MBL awardees, Linkage Fellows and Macy Scholars.

Ten students received ASCB MAC grants to attend MBL courses in 2000


Members In The News

Elliot Meyerowitz, ASCB member since 1998, was named Chair of the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology



The ASCB is grateful to those below who have recently given gifts to support Society activities:

Robert V. Blystone
Juan S. Bonifacino
Donald D. Brown
Eric Brown
Anna M. Castle
J. David Castle
Nirupa Chaudhari
Shu Chien
Mary E. Clutter
Stanley A. Cohn
Douglas Allen Cotanche
Caroline H. Damsky
Donna Joyce Dean
Victor M. DeLeon
Susan M. DiBartolomeis
Grace M. Donnelly
Jye-Siung Fang
Emmanuel Farber
Harriet T. Gagne
Jospeh Gall
Giudo Guidotti
Daryl E. Hartter
Hideyasu Hirano
Jonathan C.R. Jones
Marc W. Kirschner
Ralph T. Kubo
Harold E. Lane, Jr.
Renato N. Mascardo
Wilfredo Mellado
Yasuko Noda
Yukio Okano
Alfred Owczarzak
Eugene V. Perrin
Anna H.K. Plass
Mary K. Rundell
Michael L. Shelanski
Emma Shelton
Pamela A. Silver
Jean-Pierre Simon
Joachim R. Sommer
Clifford J. Steer
Joan A. Steitz
Donna Beer Stolz
Bayard T. Storey
Kingo Takiguchi
Lydia Villa-Komaroff
Peggy Weidman
Alan Wells
Kenneth M. Yamada


WWW.Cell Biology Education

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to Web sites 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.

Cell and Developmental Biology ONLINE! http://www.uoguelph.ca/zoology/devobio/index.htm This page lists several classes at the University of Guelph which have a variety of Web resources. The first entry is the most robust of these teaching sites:

  1. Developmental Biology ONLINE!
    Zoology Professor Steve Scadding began this site in 1996 and has assembled an extensive team of contributors and resources in support of the Developmental Biology course taught at Guelph. For someone looking for class resource material for embryology, this is an excellent starting point. The sections include anatomical terms and planes of section, gametogenesis, cleavage, gastrulation, the frog embryo, the check embryo, histology and histogenesis, regeneration, glossary and WWW links. Students often have problems with the angle of section of embryos as seen through a microscope. This program does an excellent job of orienting students through various angles of cut. The gametogenesis section is superb; all the material needed to introduce the topic is clearly at hand: whitefish, ascaris, grasshopper, mammal. There is quiz section for mitosis and meiosis. Three different egg types are represented for cleavage and gastrulation. Emphasis is given to specific elements of the development by colorizing or overmarking actual embryo photomicrographs. Frog neural tube stages are clearly represented with good axial diagrams to support the views. The chick embryo is presented quite clearly using the frames Web metaphor. In one frame the whole mount is shown with a bar representing the plane of section shown in another frame. This will be of great help to the student working through the chick anatomy for the first time. The 24-, 33-, 48-, and 72-hour chick are represented. A real plus for the site is the representation of histology and histogenesis. A variety of ectodermal, mesodermal, and endodermal derivatives are shown in their adult state. The material clearly ties into the histology of a variety of tissues. Finishing out the material is a nine laboratory introduction of developmental biology using powerpoint. The site stresses the anatomical elements of embryology and does the job well. Given the amount of graphics involved, the site will run best with a T1 connection: it would be slow over a modem.
  2. REDCUBE homepage
    REDCUBE stands for Research, Development, and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education. To quote from the first page of the site: “REDCUBE provides physicists and other non-biologists with a web window on the wonderful world of biology-education research and reform. It contains 47 biology-educator profiles; 446 references (including 124 relevant to general science-education reform); and 490 hot-linked URLs on (a) Biology Associations, (b) Biology Teacher’s Web Sites, (c) Scientific Societies and Projects (not confined to Biology), (d) Higher Education, (e) Cognitive Science and Psychology, (f) U.S. Government, and (g) Searches and Directories. The references and URLs may be generally useful to teachers and education researchers, and provide some ideas for improving research and hastening reform.” The site actually is an Acrobat formatted report consisting of 70 pages. The report provides a great deal of resource information that supports an educational reform movement in biology. Should you want to get a grasp of what is going on in undergraduate educational reform, this is a good place to begin. It will take a while to work through the volumes of information and links.
  3. The dihydrogen monoxide homepage
    This is one of the great all time spoof Web pages. To quote: “Hydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the unstable radical Hydroxide, the components of which are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.” This may be water over the bridge to you, but it is worth some real belly laughs. It also illustrates how little science background some citizens have.
These sites were checked August 25, 2000. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational WEB sites with the links to the sites may be found online.



Postdoctoral position is immediately available to study the cellular mechanisms that regulate the functions of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Current work in the lab centers on investigating the role of small ras-related GTPases in regulating the intracellular trafficking of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and two recently cloned receptors for the lipid growth factor, lysophosphatidic acid. We are also interested in characterizing the cellular factors that regulate the cellular localization and sorting of these GPCRs within cells. Candidates should have experience in cell biology, biochemistry, or molecular biology. Please send (preferably email or fax) a CV, brief description of research experience, and names of three references to Dr. Harish Radhakrishna, School of Biology and The Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 315 Ferst Dr., Atlanta, GA 30332-0363.

UCSF Postdoctoral Positions. UCSF postdoctoral positions available immediately in two areas: 1) molecular mechanisms of endocytosis and trafficking of the G protein-coupled receptor for parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related protein; 2) development and use of transgenic models to study the relationship between PTH/PTHrP receptor signaling and in vivo responses. Applicants must be facile with standard molecular and cellular techniques, and preference will be given to candidates with experience in studies of signal transduction and/or transgenic mouse development. Successful candidates may have the opportunity to develop independent research programs. Please forward curriculum vitae and the names of at least 2 references to Robert Nissenson, PhD.


Grants & Opportunities

New NSF Funding for Nanoscale Science and Engineering. A new NSF Program on Nanoscale Science and Engineering to will include a component on biosystems at the nanoscale. Contact Dr. Mary Jane Saunders, or Dr. Christopher Platt, Deadline: Nov. 2.

The Sandler Program for Asthma Research Individual Awards. The Sandler Program seeks to support excellent bench investigators from outside the field of asthma. Senior Investigators are funded at $250,000/year for three years and Junior Investigators at $125,000/ year for three years.

Fulbright Scholarships. 45 faculty and professionals awards in the biological sciences for lecturing and/or research abroad during 2001-2002. U.S. citizenship required. Non-U.S. citizens should contact the Fulbright agency or U.S. embassy in their home countries. The Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), 3007 Tilden Street, NW, Suite 5L, Washington, DC 20008-3009; (202) 686.7877.

Approval Process for the Use of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells in NIHSupported Research is online.

NIH Structural Genomics. Applications are sought for research centers that will serve as pilots for developing integrated, large-scale research networks in structural genomics. Letter of intent due by November 3; application due by February 12, 2001.

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