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ASCB Newsletter - March 2000

Focus Groups High on Meeting, Advocacy, Newsletter, WICB

M: “Fabulous".
F: “That was so cool.”
M: “That was so cool.”
F: “It was excellent.”
M: “I mean, it was just amazing. I come here and get inspired.”

While not consistently eloquent, scientists participating in focus groups at the ASCB Annual Meeting last December expressed succinctly their appreciation of the science enjoyed at the meeting — in this case of a minisymposium on “membrane stuff.”

The Society commissioned a professional research firm to help leadership and management better understand what members value most about the Society and how the Society can optimize its resources to develop and offer programs and benefits most valued by members and potential members.

Volunteers were selected randomly from among Annual Meeting pre-registrants, in five categories: member trainees (postdocs and students), nonmember trainees, senior member scientists, senior non-member scientists and lapsed members. The five focus groups of about 12 people each met for 90 minutes over three days of the Annual Meeting.

Across groups, several consistent messages emerged: the Annual Meeting was considered the most important activity of the Society — though this comment must be considered in the context that only meeting attendees were interviewed — and that the large size of the meeting is both its strength and weakness. Regardless of their feeling about the size of the meeting, all groups rated the quality of the science and other meeting activities — particularly career programs — very high.

While some liked the San Francisco Washington Annual Meeting pattern (“I’ll never get tired of San Francisco,” remarked one person), there was sharp criticism across all groups about returning to two cities repeatedly as well as about the time of year of the meeting, which conflicts with exam schedules for many. Even those participants who were knowledgable about and sympathetic to the reasons for the Annual Meeting schedule and location and were aware that registration rates were kept low by the Society’s multi-year commitments and early-December time frame, were ambivalent.

Participants — predictably, members in particular — showed an impressive degree of knowledge of other aspects of Society history and operations as well. Misconceptions expressed by some participants — such as the Society’s ownership of the Journal of Cell Biology — were quickly disabused by others.

In contrast to data from several years ago, members were highly informed of and valued the importance of the Society’s work in Congressional advocacy. “I think it’s great that they do it,” said one participant of the Society’s Congressional advocacy work. “They are very effective and vocal, and round up famous scientists to testify before Congress, and get people in individual Congressional districts to go and speak to their Congressmen, and it really does work... it probably does provide tens of millions, maybe more, of dollars to the biomedical research community. They are a particularly active Society. They are really maybe one of the very best.”

Women’s activities were viewed extremely favorably. Both men and women commended the Society’s women’s activities, appreciating their gender-neutrality in most cases. “It is probably the most woman-friendly society there is,” said one participant. The perception of the Society’s efforts to offer programs for minorities were praised but qualified. “The ASCB is probably the most active society for minority groups, but you see very few African-Americans at the meetings,” said a participant. Another felt that although Annual Meetingrelated events for minority scientists and students were impressive, they were not sufficiently integrated — as one member said, minorities activities should be “sponsored, not [just] allowed.”

Molecular Biology of the Cell was lauded guardedly. “[MBC] has gotten a lot better since they made it free... more people in the Society are publishing in that journal, and the quality of papers, I think, is a lot better,” said one scientist. Another commented that the journal is “better both in terms of what is in it, and its perception and people’s willingness to send stuff to it. When it first came out, I think a lot of people still did not want to send their work there, because they just weren’t sure what the quality was going to be.” Another member said, “the length of papers they publish is a very good thing... You can publish a complete story in Molecular Biology of the Cell, and you can’t in [other journals.]” The journal’s innovation with video and its usefulness as a teaching vehicle were also mentioned repeatedly and positively. However, MBC is not perceived as equally prestigious as some other journals. Commented one scientist, “if you get a hot result, you try to publish it in a more widely circulated journal... like Science or Nature or Cell.” Scientists and students in all categories felt that there is an unnecessarily large number of paper copies in circulation, and that excessive hard copies are wasteful of Society resources and paper.

The ASCB Newsletter was singled out for special praise. Many members felt that the ASCB’s newsletter stood apart from others, and lapsed members indicated that they missed not getting it. One senior member scientist called it “my ‘mini-meeting’” because it provides a similar sense of connection to the cell biology community. Others said, “it’s part of what makes you feel like you are part of the whole Society” and “I think the newsletter creates a sense of camaraderie.”

One member described how newsletters are retained in binders each month, so helpful articles can be copied and distributed to students and colleagues, as well as used to generate ideas for lecturers.

The WICB columns were mentioned frequently, by both men and women, and seem to touch some readers personally. One member reflected that, “I had two kids 20 months apart, and I was trying to do all these things, and I was feeling very frazzled. All of a sudden there came this article written by a woman that said you’ve got to cut back and prioritize. I felt less stressed because I felt like I wasn’t the only person trying to do this.”

Lapsed members cited the cost of membership as the most important reason by far for having allowed their memberships to lapse. These members were generally immune to the overwhelming financial incentive to become a member to qualify for Annual Meeting attendance discounts, since their institutions pay for meeting registration but not membership dues.

Many participants felt that the focus groups themselves were an indication of the progressive nature and vitality of the Society.


Summer 2000 Undergraduate Research Programs in Biology

This nationwide resource list, compiled by ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee member Joseph Hall, emphasizes programs for minority students, but includes information for all undergraduates.


O’Shea Named to ASCB-Promega Award

Erin O’Shea of the University of California, San Francisco was named the ASCBPromega Early Career Life Science Award for 2000.

O’Shea will give the Award talk at the 40th ASCB Annual Meeting, on Tuesday December 12, at 12 noon.

ASCB President Richard Hynes chaired the Selection Committee; the other members were Elaine Fuchs, George Langford, Terry Riss, Randy Schekman and Jean Schwarzbauer.


Marincola Appointed to National PMC Committee

ASCB Executive Director Elizabeth Marincola was appointed to the NIH PubMed Central National Advisory Committee, effective February 1.

The Committee, to be chaired by Joshua Lederberg of Rockefeller University, will advise the NIH on the content and operation of the PubMed Central Repository. It will also establish criteria to certify groups submitting materials to PMC, monitor the operation of the system and ensure that PMC evolves and remains responsive to the needs of researchers, publishers, librarians and the general public.

Molecular Biology of the Cell was the first journal to commit to participation in PMC, by providing its content after a two-month delay. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences joined PMC shortly thereafter; MBC and PNAS provided the initial content for PMC when it went live last month.

Among the fourteen other Committee members are Nick Cozzarelli, Editor-inChief of PNAS, Paul Ginsparg of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Richard Roberts of New England Biolabs, Vitek Tracz of the Current Science Group and former NIH Director Harold Varmus.


Minority Programs Win Nearly $1 Million

The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee has been awarded $925,000 over four years to fund programs for minority students, postdocs and new investigators. The grant was made by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of General Medical Sciences through a Minority Access to Research Careers grant. The funds will help the Society develop a new mentoring network and contacts for the long-term professional development of underrepresented minorities in science.

Financial assistance for course participants at the Marine Biological and Friday Harbor Laboratories and the Visiting Professorship Program, which provides a summer research experience for faculty members from MinorityServing Institutions in the laboratories of ASCB members, are funded for the summer of 2000.

The grant will continue to support ongoing ASCB Annual Meeting activities: travel awards, the MAC Saturday Session, and the E.E. Just Award. It also provides funding for minority scientists to attend the Histochemical Society Workshop and Opportunities in Cell Biology, a publication of the ASCB MAC.

The MAC Linkage Program is a new program enabled by the grant. Starting this year, the program seeks to increase participation of underrepresented minority scientists and students from MSIs in activities supported by the ASCB MAC. Funds are provided to support a faculty member, designated a Fellow, at seven institutions where minorities represent a significant presence. Fellows are expected to promote ASCB MAC programs and to recruit students for them, assist in tracking their students who participate in MAC programs, attend the 2000 ASCB Annual Meeting and recruit additional faculty and students to attend subsequent ASCB Annual Meetings.

MAC programs are announced in the ASCB Newsletter. Personal program updates are e-mailed upon request; contact ASCB.


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.

  1. CSIRO Education Programs
    The national science and research arm of Australia, CSIRO, has put together a wonderful educational resource aimed at all educational grade levels. The first URL opens the basic homepage for CSIRO. A number of options are available, including paths to business information, industry contacts, and where to get science questions answered. Choose the Education Resource button near the bottom of the first page. The frame that opens gives an overview of the very extensive educational resources that CSIRO has put together. The additional URLs listed above are but a few of the highly interesting options available.

    The second URL opens a homepage for young children. It is based on a magazine for grade school children called The Helix. One of the paths is to a section called “Experiments.” More than sixty activities for young children are listed including exercises titled: Make a DNA Model, Cabbage Chemistry, Frog Symphony, Bottle Filter, and Density Column. The Density Column has real applications for college students learning separation chemistry. One title especially catches attention: Rubber refrigerator. If you follow the instructions, you will learn something about balloons you probably have overlooked. The exercises are wonderful and could keep a young child motivated about science for days.

    The third URL takes you to the homepage of Australia’s science club called Double Helix. It is integrated with the magazine Helix. Of the choices offered, the eye catching one is called Real Research. This page states: “The Double Helix Club annually runs a national experiment in which Club members throughout Australia take part. National experiments are chosen because they actively support important research programs, while also allowing members of the community to have the experience of performing scientific research.” One of the projects undertaken was the National Dung Beetle Crusade. A countrywide survey of dung beetles was made by Science Club members and the result was the introduction of beetles in specific areas to assist with soil erosion control.

    The fourth URL is a modification of the first with a broader representation of the activities of the educational wing of CSIRO. If you are looking for ways to become involved in the promotion of science in K-12, this is an excellent place to visit to gather ideas that work. If you are looking for science activities for children that can entertain and teach (the relationship of sharks and pimples for example), please visit this exceptional Web site.

  2. The Ugly Bug
    The Oklahoma Society for Microscopy has created a contest for elementary school students in Oklahoma. The students of an elementary school submit an ugly bug to one of five research sites in Oklahoma. At these sites the submitted bugs are coated and viewed in the scanning electron microscope. Pictures are made and the ugliest submission wins. The school is recognized and the bug pictures are turned into posters for statewide publicity. The site has pictures of the winners (the bugs, not the students) for the past several years and paths to a great deal of support material. There is some subtle science hidden in this activity. The site also has links to a number of microscopy educational resources on the web. There are links to a number of entomology sites as well. Stereo pairs of bugs can be brought up on the screen and by relaxing your eyes you can see the face of a dung beetle in three dimensions. The site is thoroughly enjoyable and demonstrates what a dedicated professional society can do to further interest in science, and provides teachers resources at the same time.
  3. The Busy Educator’s Guide to the World Wide Web
    This commercial site represents the efforts of Marjan Galvac, a public speaker. A useful feature of the site is a collection of three groups of links: top educators, top kids, and top parents. These links can provide a wealth of information from the three perspectives represented. The homepage gives branches to interesting topics: educational book reviews, educational game reviews, and software reviews. A book store feature represents a reworked Amazon.com inventory that organizes lists of books on different educational topics and grade levels. A major original feature is “The Busy Educator’s Newsletter.” The Newsletter is a monthly compilation of Web-based information for educators. The site is not specifically oriented towards science, but it does represent an interesting location to find information about teaching, learning and parenting

These sites were checked February 14, 2000. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational web sites with the links to the sites may be found online.

—Robert Blystone for the ASCB Education Committee


Members In The News

Jay Dunlap of Dartmouth Medical School, an ASCB member since 1994, has been appointed to the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council.


Letters To The Editor

To the Editor, I’m a new member this year and the January 2000 Newsletter issue is my first. I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it yesterday. The article on ASCB withdrawal from FASEB was well-argued, I thought. I like the public policy briefing and the www.cell biology education features. I look forward to checking out the URLs mentioned in the latter.

My thanks to all involved.

Joel Benington Saint Bonaventure University.


Call For Education Initiative Proposals

Each morning of the ASCB Annual Meeting, the ASCB Education Committee presents an Education Initiative Forum during the coffee break between scientific symposia. The Forum presents programs of interest to scientists and educators.

ASCB members with topics and/or speakers of potential interest for presentation at the Education Initiative Forum during the 40th ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco are invited to direct suggestions to ASCB Education Committee member Chris Watters at Middlebury College, Department of Biology, Middlebury VT 05753. Phone: (802) 443-5433.



Postdoctoral Position. An NIH-funded postdoctoral position is available immediately to examine the roles of a newly discovered family of actin-bundling proteins, the espins (Bartles et al., 1996, J. Cell Sci. 109, 1229-1239; Bartles et al., 1998, J. Cell Biol. 143, 107-119; Chen et al., 1999, Mol. Biol. Cell 10, 4327-4339; Bartles, 2000, Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 12, in press), in the organization and function of hair cell stereocilia, brush border microvilli and Sertoli cellspermatid junctions. An integrated cell and molecular biological approach will be used to compare the structures and biochemical properties of espin isoforms, localize them at the light and electron microscopic levels during development, and examine the consequences of mutating or eliminating the different isoforms. The work will entail RACE-PCR, cloning, sequencing, recombinant protein expression and purification, in vitro binding assays, immunolocalization, yeast two-hybrid screens, in situ hybridization, targeted gene replacement, cell transfection and microdissection. Experience with these techniques is desirable. A Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology or a related discipline is required. Salary will be commensurate with NIH guidelines. Send or preferably e-mail or Fax c.v., including names and complete contact information for three references, to: Dr. James R. Bartles, Dept. of Cell and Molecular Biology, Ward Building 11185, Northwestern University Medical School, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Fax: (312) 503-7912. Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Postdoctoral fellow, Cell Biology, Los Angeles. Our research is focused on the functions of dynamin and dynamin-related proteins. In this past year, we discovered that the dynaminrelated protein Drp1 is important for mitochondrial division. We are currently investigating how Drp1 controls mitochondrial division and we are searching for nove factors that interact with Drp1. Applicants should have a strong interest in cell biology with experience in biochemistry, genetics or molecular biology. Please send a cv and the names of three references to: Alex van der Bliek, Department of Biological Chemistry, UCLA School of Medicine P.O. Box 951737, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1737, USA.

Myogen, Inc. a Denver area biotech company focusing on the diagnosis and therapy of heart failure, is searching for an experienced cell biologist with experimental expertise in the manipulation of gene signaling in cardiomyocytes in culture, and with a track record of achievement in successfully developing primary cell culture systems with cardiac and non-cardiac cells. Position requires Ph.D., or equivalent relevant experience and training in cardiac cell biology. Contact Richard J. Gorczynski, Ph.D., Vice President, R&D, Myogen, Inc., 7577 West 103rd Ave, Suite 212, Westminster, Colorado 80021; Phone: (303) 464-5224; Fax: (303) 410-6667

A Postdoctoral Position is available to investigate the possibility that vertebrate centromeres possess protein-coding genes. The project will employ laser microdissection of metaphase chromosomes, PCR amplification of dissected fragments, screening of cDNA and genomic libraries and molecular characterization of positive clones. Candidates with experience in mammalian tissue culture, mitotic chromosome selection and molecular methods including PCR and library screening and characterization are particularly encouraged to apply. Please send a CV, brief description of research experience and interests and the names of three references by April 15, 2000 to: Dr. Barbara A. Hamkalo, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697; fax (949) 824-8551; The University of California is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to Excellence through Diversity.

Research Associate. Our Wound Healing Research Laboratory has recently developed a unique animal model of controlled ischemia/reperfusion injury in skin. This model may be used to study the etiology, prevention, and treatment of skin ulcerations such as pressure ulcers. We need the assistance of an experienced Ph.D. cell biologist, biochemist, or related specialist to further characterize and develop this model of a chronic wound. This one-year, renewable, research fellowship will pay $25,100 plus fringe benefits and will begin July 1, 2000. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with excellent oral and written skills in English. The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity employer. Please send a detailed resume by May 1 to: George T. Rodeheaver, Ph.D., Director, Wound Healing Laboratory, University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 801351, Charlottesville, VA 22908-1351.

Postdoc position available in Boston. Postdoc opportunities are available in the Bernfield lab at Children’s Hosp/Harvard Med School studying syndecans & glypicans, cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) that control cell behaviors during morphogenesis, tissue repair, host defense & energy balance. We study the molecular physiology of gene knockout and transgenic mouse models and Drosophila. For more information, see “Functions of cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans” in the 1999 Annu. Rev. Biochem., 68 (729-77), or visit the Harvard Med. School Cell Biology web page. To apply, call or send a CV & names of three references to: Merton Bernfield, M.D., 300 Longwood Ave., Enders 961, Boston, MA 02115; Phone: (617) 355-6366; Fax: (617) 355-7677.

Research Associate and Postdoctoral Fellow Positions Molecular Signal Transduction
Applications are invited to apply for available positions at the Research Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow level to investigate molecular signal transduction during development. Successful candidates will join a research team active in the investigation of the TGFb signaling mechanisms, kinase and transcription factor-mediated gene expression, and molecular genetics of susceptibility to developmental disorders. Strong background in molecular/ molecular genetic methodologies, cell and/or developmental biology required. Applicants should submit (1) curriculum vitae, (2) statement of current research activities and (3) names of three references to: Dr. M. Michele Pisano, Department of Molecular, Cellular & Craniofacial Biology, ULSD, 501 South Preston Street, Suite 301, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, KY 40292. The University of Louisville is an EEO/AA employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Tumor Biology Program Mayo Graduate School
Graduate Training in Tumor Biology: The Mayo Graduate School Tumor Biology Program is a multidisciplinary predoctoral training program in the biology of cancer. Research and training in this program is broadly focused on gene regulation, cell cycle control, cancer genetics, oncogene and tumor suppressor action, tumor immunology, signal transduction, antitumor pharmacology, and the biology of breast, ovarian, uterine, lung, G.I., brain, and prostate cancers. Students participate in laboratorybased research, as well as a formal tumor biology curriculum that integrates current concepts in cell growth control with the natural history of human tumors. The Tumor Biology Program is supported in part by a training grant from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH (T32-CA75926). Training grant information can be viewed at the website. The Mayo Clinic is located in Rochester, Minnesota, a city with an approximate population of 113,000. For more information about Rochester, visit their website.

Mayo Clinic is an equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be American citizens or legally admitted to the United States as permanent residents and be accepted into the Ph.D. Program in Tumor Biology. Inquiries and application materials can be obtained from the Mayo Graduate School by email or by visiting the website.


Grants & Opportunities

The Maria Mitchell Association is offering a $10,000 award to an individual, program or organization that encourages the advancement of girls and women in the natural and physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer science and technology. Nomination deadline: April 28. Call (508) 228-9198 or visit the website for more information.

The Fulbright Scholar’s Program is offering grants for international lecturing and research. Contact the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) at (202) 686-7877.

NIH has reannounced two predoctoral fellowship awards, one for students with disabilities, and one for minority students.


ASCB Placement Service

Information on potential employers and limited information on registered candidates are available on the ASCB website: select “Careers".

As of February 18, the following candidates who registered with the ASCB Placement Service at the 1999 ASCB Annual Meeting indicate that they continue to conduct a job search:

0003, 0004, 0006, 0009, 0010, 0011, 0013, 0015, 0016, 0017, 0021, 0022, 0023, 0025, 0027, 0029, 0032, 0034, 0038, 0040, 0041, 0043, 0044, 0045, 0051, 0053, 0055, 0057, 0058, 0061, 0064, 0065, 0066, 0069, 0078, 0079, 0081, 0082, 0083, 0084, 0088, 0096, 0098, 0099, 0106, 0107, 0108, 0109, 0111, 0113, 0126, 0128, 0131, 0133, 0135, 0138, 0141, 0142, 0144, 0146, 0147, 0148, 0149, 0153, 0156, 0157, 0160, 0163, 0164, 0165, 0166, 0171, 0178, 0182, 0183, 0186

Brief descriptions of the candidates’ qualifications and interests may be found on the ASCB Website. A packet with complete information on these candidates may be purchased from the ASCB Placement Service; download an order form from the Placement Service website or contact Dot Doyle.

Advertisements for employers who registered with the Placement Service at the 1999 ASCB Annual Meeting are on the website; candidates may contact employers directly.

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