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ASCB Newsletter - January 2001

Fuchs Becomes ASCB President
  01/01/2001

Following are remarks from Society President Elaine Fuchs, who took office on January 1:

As I take the gavel of the Presidency of the American Society of Cell Biology, I am excited and enthusiastic for the opportunity to serve my colleagues in the cell biology community over the coming year. This is both a privilege and an honor, and I thank all of you for trusting me with this important endeavor. Let me also thank all of you in advance for your willingness to join me in working throughout 2001 to make our community an even more active and thoughtful one than it has been in the past. That is a true challenge, since the ASCB has grown to be one of the most active scientific societies in the nation. What can we do to improve upon our community?

Certainly, most of us have placed at the head of our New Year’s scientific resolutions to improve the quality of our science. We all have ideas about how to accomplish this task. We can read those first rate scientific journals more often and more carefully to learn from the articles published by our colleagues. We can discuss more of the science we learn among our lab communities and among those around us. We can encourage our fellow lab members to attend seminars regularly, we can do more of the same ourselves, and we can take the time to ponder and discuss their gist after they have been given. Those of us who are mentoring others can spend more time with our students and postdoctorates, not only sharing their enthusiasm for success, but also helping them understand the roots of failed experiments so they don’t get discouraged about the natural ups and downs of a scientific career. We could spend a few more minutes organizing our lectures, seminars, or presentations of our data so that we articulate our science more clearly and dynamically to our audiences. We might find that our audience in turn responds more intelligently and enthusiastically to what we are saying, and this may challenge and inspire us to address their comments and concerns.

So these are some of my New Year’s scientific resolutions for 2001. And thinking about how I am going to accomplish these goals while simultaneously heading a society of over 10,000 members is a bit daunting. So I’d better stop the list of resolutions now, because the next level of issues to tackle represents a giant step: How can we ensure continuity, growth and progress in our cell biology community? Where do the youngest members of our community come from and who inspires and mentors them?

When they first discovered their interest in biology, who was there to stimulate and help them shape this enthusiasm? What inspired you to develop a career in cell biology? Perhaps it was a particularly good science teacher or an influential parent or an aunt who was a doctor or scientist. Perhaps it was an exploration into a field of grasses and insects, a sea full of fishes, or an especially good science book. If you have thought of an answer by now, then let me ask the next question–where is our next generation of cell biologists coming from, and who and what will inspire them to follow a career in cell biology? As science becomes more specialized and technology-oriented, will the next generation of cell biologists still become inspired by butterflies or flowers? What about city kids who may not see butterflies or flowers very often?

Clearly, these are concerns that the ASCB has had for some time now. The Society has a very active Education Committee, so ably chaired by Frank Solomon at MIT. In the recent past, the Society instituted an Education Award, named after Bruce Alberts, who some years ago accepted the Presidency of the National Academy of Sciences in part to pursue his mission to improve K-12 math and science education by mobilizing the scientific community and U.S. Congress. The ASCB’s most recent initiative in Education is the formation of a new peer-reviewed academic journal, entitled Cell Biology Education, which is aimed at providing a means of disseminating knowledge and ideas about teaching cell biology at the undergraduate college level. If you’ve got a great cell biology experiment that works well in the classroom, this is the place to get it published so that your peers can benefit. Perhaps if successful, ASCB might be persuaded to consider expanding the Journal to include K-12 education as well.

Focusing for a moment on the issues of K12 biology education, let me pose the following question: if you ask a classroom of 6-yearolds whether they would prefer trying to identify 10 different types of trees or insects in the forest, or memorizing a list of facts, what answer do you anticipate? Why is it that by the time many students finish the 12th grade, their natural interest in biology often wanes? A number of our ASCB members are already actively interfacing with K-12 education to try to make a difference in the outcome of these answers. There are many highly successful programs in communities across the nation. Some programs focus on bringing kids and/or high school teachers to a research or academic institution for the purpose of participating in lab experiments and/or formal classes. Our colleagues engaged in these ventures have found them to be dynamic and meaningful.

As President of the ASCB for 2001, I will be adding a new Session to our Annual Program. The Session is entitled “Educating Our Cell Biologists of the Future,” and it is aimed at providing you with some perspectives on the topic from world-renowned scientists and legislators who have extensive experience in this field, as well as some hands-on information from those who have experience in either organizing, operating or participating in successful programs at their own institutions. I hope to see all of you at this new Session, even if you are one of our members who initially may feel that you really don’t have time or interest in being involved. Come hear about what some of our members have done to make a difference in their communities. Think about it. Volunteer to participate. It could make a difference to your life. I believe that these efforts can make a lasting difference to the future of cell biology.

Our cell biology community and the ASCB will be as dynamic and interactive as we make it. My overall priority for the coming year is to encourage all of you to become involved in the broader community in order to enhance cell biology. Whether you are a student, a postdoctorate, a faculty member or a high school teacher, the ASCB has a variety of different avenues to facilitate your participation. Whether your special interest is improving your lab environment and science, becoming a better mentor, participating in K-12 education, undergraduate education, or minority or gender issues in science, or helping to disseminate what excites you about cell biology to science writers, journalists, congressional legislators, or the public at large, the ASCB will help you to find ways to volunteer and participate. If you are not already an active contributor to the cell biology community, think about joining the ASCB’s Congressional Liaison Committee (public policy), volunteering for the Letters to Young to People Program (education), submitting an article for the Women In Cell Biology column published in the ASCB monthly newsletter (or submitting an article to the new Cell Biology Education Journal), participating in the mentoring symposium or the poster session sponsored by the Minorities Affairs Committee, and/or submitting to your local newspapers opeds that make a case for public investment in biomedical research (Public Information Committee). Through your active participation in the ASCB, the ASCB will continue to expand their efforts in these areas.

I thank you in advance for taking a brief moment to reflect upon your existing priorities, and to ask yourself whether a slight adjustment might help to enhance the cell biology community, and make your life even more fulfilling than it currently is. I look forward to working with you in this coming year.

With best wishes,
Elaine Fuchs, President

 


Summer 2001 Undergraduate Research Programs in Biology
  01/01/2001

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

 


Council Marks 40th Anniversary, Sets Summer Meeting, Initiates New Student Travel Fellowships
  01/01/2001

The governing Council of the Society held its semi-annual meeting over two days last month in San Francisco. Councilors in attendance were Richard Hynes, Carl Cohen, Larry Goldstein, Randy Schekman, Elaine Fuchs, Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, James Nelson, Susan Strome, Mark Mooseker, Sandra Murray, Ted Salmon, Joan Brugge, Susan Michaelis and Donella Wilson. Councilors-elect in attendance were Gary Borisy, Kevin Campbell, Sandra Schmid and Sue Shafer. Hynes presided. Much of the Council’s discussion involved Committee programs. A summary of other Council business follows:

Richard Hynes reported on activities in commemoration of the Society’s 40th anniversary:

  • The ASCB, with Cold Spring Harbor Press, is marking the anniversary with publication of Landmark Papers in Cell Biology, a volume, edited by former ASCB presidents Joseph Gall and J. Richard McIntosh, of seminal papers in the field. The book is offered to Society members and to students at the Society’s cost in commemoration of the anniversary and to encourage use of the book as a text.
  • The Annual Meeting opening featured an historical gathering of 25 of the Society’s 32 living presidents, including the Society’s first president, Don Fawcett. Fortieth Anniversary Chair Elizabeth Hay emceed the celebration and introduced her fellow presidents. Keynote talks by Nobel Laureates J. Michael Bishop, Michael Brown, Joseph Goldstein and Harold Varmus followed, and festivities were capped by dinner buffet and live jazz for all in attendance.
  • A timeline of key events in the history of the Society was displayed in Moscone Convention Center. It will be on permanent display in the National Office of the Society in Bethesda.
  • The Society raised extraordinary gifts of over $350,000 in support of 40th Anniversary activities, student travel grants, and other Society programs.

Treasurer Carl Cohen reviewed the Society’s finances and presented the budget proposed by the Finance Committee for FY2002, which Council approved unanimously.

2001 Program Chair Joan Brugge presented a preliminary program for the 41st Annual Meeting, to be announced this Spring.

Council discussed a proposal by Executive Director Elizabeth Marincola to institute a small summer meeting. Meeting organizers will be selected competitively from the membership. Council approved the plan, to be implemented starting in the Summer of 2002. Application criteria and information will be announced to the membership this Spring.

Secretary Larry Goldstein presented a membership status report, noting that the Society had for the first time in its history passed the 10,000 milestone (see December, 2000, ASCB Newsletter). Council approved the applications of 1,199 new members, including 363 regular members, 334 post-doctoral members and 472 student members (see pages 3841). Council also approved the request of eight regular members to be converted to Emeritus status (see page 41). The actions brought final membership to 10,100 for 2000.

Goldstein also presented a proposal to establish a Member Memorial Travel Fellowship. Through the Fellowship, members will be provided the opportunity to memorialize deceased ASCB members by contributing to a fund which will support the travel of a competitively selected student to the ASCB Annual Meeting each year (see page 9). Council approved unanimously.

A similar, separate proposal from Rockefeller University Press to establish a Travel Fellowship in memory of longtime member and Journal of Cell Biology Editor-inChief Norton B. “Bernie” Gilula was discussed. The Press offered to fund the travel and stipend of an outstanding student selected by the Society each year in Gilula’s memory. Council accepted RUP’s proposal with gratitude.

 


40th ASCB Annual Meeting Report
  01/01/2001

College Student Program
On Saturday afternoon of the ASCB Annual Meeting, more than 70 students and faculty attended the College Student Program to hear Elizabeth Blackburn’s address, Finding Out About Telomeres and Telomerase: No End to the Story Yet.Blackburn discussed three phases of thinking about a biological problem, using examples from her work on telomerase reverse transcriptase. The first phase, addressing a fundamental question, used “pond scum,” the singlecelled eukaryote Tetrahyema thermophila, to identify tandem repeats of telomeric DNA, and by her early work at UC Berkeley with graduate student Carol Greider in identifying telomerase. The function of telomerase reverse transcriptase was aptly depicted in a video produced by Peter Friedman and JeanClaude Brunet, which used a surrealistic cartoon-like analogy of transcribing a music score. In illustrating the second phase of thinking about a biological problem, which involves directing investigation from a fundamental to a specific question, Blackburn described studies on the role of telomere length and telomerase in cell proliferation. She also discussed the paradoxical role telomerase plays in cancerous cells by promoting proliferation and protecting against genomic instability to emphasize that, as is often the case in biological research, there can be multiple answers to a question. Blackburn described how a third phase involves incorporating our reductive knowledge on specific molecules into an integrative model of the cell, and how this can lead to planning for potential medical applications of this knowledge.

Questions from the audience were varied and ranged from concerns regarding the breadth of disciplines students now need to master, to topical inquiries related to the role of telomerase in aging, to public policy concerns regarding funding. In keeping with the theme, Blackburn enthusiastically conveyed to the students in attendance that as researchers approach the challenges of developing an integrated cell model, research is entering a particularly exciting time for the investigative scientist.

High School Student Program
One hundred and ninety students, teachers and parents attended the High School Student Program, representing dozens of Bay Area schools.

Peter Walter of the University of California San Francisco gave the Keynote address on how cells organize themselves to carry out their specific functions. The formation of membrane-bound compartments dedicated to specific activities and development of an effective inter-compartment communication and traffic system is key. Walter presented this theme by laying out the fundamental principles that account for the structure and properties of biological membranes, focusing on lipids. He developed a simple but fascinating model, gradually building upon fundamental principles to illustrate how the basic building blocks of membranes are used by cells to produce the highly complex intracellular environments that characterize the different cell types in complex organisms, including humans.

The talk was followed by a very active question and answer period after which students assembled in their school groups and attended selected exhibits.

Congress 201
Unfinished business in Washington prevented Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (DCA) from participating in “Congress 101” as scheduled. Instead, ASCB public policy leaders Paul Berg, Larry Goldstein, Richard Hynes, David Botstein and Peter Kyros presented “Congress 201” to ASCB meeting participants interested in establishing or developing communication with their Member of Congress in support of biomedical research funding. “It was the best event—besides the science, of course—at a meeting of fantastic events,” enthused one attendee.

Paul Berg, Chair of the ASCB Public Policy Committee, stressed the significance of policy development and advocacy in relation to biomedical research. He emphasized the Congressional Liaison Committee’s success in keeping biomedical research scientists informed on research-related matters pending before Congress.

ASCB Councilor and Public Policy Committee Vice Chair Larry Goldstein focused on the importance of scientists developing a relationship with their Member of Congress regardless of the Representative’s party, beliefs or voting record on a particular issue. Goldstein described the structure of a congressional office, comparing the Congressperson to a P.I. and their staff to postdocs, students and technicians. Goldstein illustrated how a scientist can influence a Member’s position on an issue by his experience with his own Congressman, a conservative, “Pro-Life” Republican with virtually no appreciation for biomedical research and who held no research-related committee assignments in Congress. After months of persistence, Goldstein engaged the Congressman who then accepted a seat on the appropriations committee funding the NIH and eventually became one of its most passionate supporters of stem cell research. Goldstein also noted that Members of Congress usually have relatively safe seats, serving for six or more years, making it worthwhile in most cases to build a relationship with one’s Representative, particularly as his or her seniority in Congress increases.

ASCB President Richard Hynes underscored the value of communicating with one’s Member of Congress by phone, fax or e-mail. He noted that while there is a hierarchy of effectiveness (a personal letter on paper receiving significantly more attention than, for example, a “canned” email), any form of contact is significantly preferable to none. He also commented on the prominence and visibility of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus and recommended that scientists ask their Member to join if they are not already one of its 100+ members.

Public Policy Committee Member David Botstein spoke of the importance of Congressional staff. He noted that Members of Congress cannot be experts in all areas and therefore depend on staff dedicated to informing them on particular issues. Botstein noted that staff function as the eyes and ears of the Member and control the flow of information to the Member. Therefore, meetings and other communication with staff should be treated with appropriate seriousness.

JSC Congressional Education Liaison and former Member of Congress Peter Kyros reported on the status of the FY 2001 Labor HHS Appropriations bill, which had not yet passed Congress at that time [it did subsequently; see page 19]. In addition, Kyros asserted that the science community has a unique role to play in conveying to Members of Congress the benefits of biomedical research. He argued that researchers make excellent advocates because they emphasize science rather than politics. He also underscored the importance of being wellprepared when visiting a Member of Congress.

CLC Reception
Over 80 people attended the Congressional Liaison Committee reception hosted by the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy and Congressional Liaison Committee Chair Tom Pollard.

Pollard stressed the importance of contact between biomedical scientists and their Representatives on a regular basis to establish a working relationship in which science is the common bond. To facilitate with these efforts, the JSC has two District Coordinators: Matt Zonarich, who oversees the nationwide CLC as well as concentrated efforts in Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York; and Michelle Grifka, who is managing the CLC program in California. ASCB Public Policy Director Tim Leshan also serves as a critical resource to scientists in their public policy advocacy.

Zonarich gave a status report on the CLC. He emphasized that an increased effort to reach out to Members of Congress will be critical in order to keep the NIH on track to double its budget between 1999 and 2003. Zonarich, a veteran of Capitol Hill, also explained the decision making process behind a JSC legislative email alert, stressing the leadership’s sensitivity to potential saturation and efforts to optimize the timing and frequency of CLC alerts.

Grifka reported on the recently established California Project. All but two of California’s 52 congressional districts have received NIH funding over the last five years. CLC membership, however, is not correspondingly broad in the state. An initial goal of the CaCLC will be to recruit members in all of the state’s congressional districts. A critical success factor in California will be the coordination within the University of California and California State University systems, through which most biomedical research funds flow. The geographic distribution of campuses in both systems will advantage efforts to reach biomedical research scientists throughout the state.

Two CLC members, Judith Glaven and Mark Rasenick, gave testimonials about how Capitol Hill Days sponsored by the CLC changed their perceptions of Members of Congress and the legislative process.

Congressional Education Liaison Peter Kyros advised scientists to target their message to Members of Congress. He encouraged CLC members to explain their research in lay terms and to stick to the central message of increasing funding for basic research. In addition, Kyros urged all CLC members to write thank-you letters to Congresspeople who supported the NIH and to ask them to renew their commitment to research in the coming year. CLC members were also encouraged to publish letters-to-the-editor and opeds supporting science in their local newspapers.

Education Initiative Forum
Myron Williams from Atlanta Clark University described his efforts to develop a enquiry-based, undergraduate laboratory course in biochemistry built around Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Students clone the GFP gene, follow its expression and characterize the resulting protein, using the primary literature and relevant websites for additional information.

Karen Bernd from Davidson College explored the uses of the world wide web and student-created webpages for teaching the primary literature; she described ways in which websites could be tailored for teaching specific experimental methods and how such work could help hone the presentation and reviewing skills of upper-level students.

Richard Nuccitelli from the University of California, Davis invited ASCB members to consider how they can interact with their local grade schools, ranging from a single visit to Summer oryear-long mentoring relationships with local teachers. He emphasized the need for presenting science in the form of simple experiments using everyday and familiar items, for listening to what local teachers need, and for recognizing how even minimal involvement could have a compound effect.

Minorities Mentoring Workshop
The Minorities Saturday session, organized by MAC Chair J.K. Haynes, Sonya Summerour Clemmons of San Diego, and Conrad Messam and Ghislaine Mayer, both of the NIH, featured speakers who described the skills that young scientists need to be successful in the new millenium.

Ursula Goodenough, former President of ASCB, emphasized the importance of a supportive networks in scientific career development. She recounted her experience as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard where there were no women faculty in her department. She urged balance: “do not overstretch your time giving,” she cautioned, reminding a room full of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that doing science was about having a passion to be creative and to make discoveries about nature.

Howard Adams, author of “Making the Grades in Graduate School— Survival 101” outlined the elements necessary for a successful career in graduate school: l Approaching a task with a spirit of winning, which allows one to bring positive energy to the process.

  • Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy.
  • Knowing oneself and the department.
  • Visibility at journal clubs.
  • Establishing a reputation for being a serious, dedicated and resourceful student.
  • Being comfortable being the “only” one.
  • Adopting the motto “Do Not Disturb. I am Working on the Rest of My Life”.

Conrad Messam of NIH, Sonya Summerour Clemmons of San Diego and Winston Thompson led the concluding discussion on transitioning from Graduate school to postdoc and postdoc to job. Messam urged that postdoctoral advisors be chosen carefully since they have a major impact in their mentee’s future scientific career. Clemmons asserted postdoctoral experience is not necessary for a career in industry. Thompson noted that developing a good relationship with a departmental chairperson is essential for junior faculty.

WICB Networking and Career Issues Lunch
Over 400 meeting attendees shared lunch and discussed around “Career Issues Facing Biologists” at the annual lunch cosponsored by the Women in Cell Biology and Education committees of the ASCB. Participants were organized into groups of 10 led by an “expert” in the table’s topic.

For the first time, limited on-site registration was offered, filling the room to capacity. More than 20 topics included Industry, Biotech, Patent Law/Intellectual Property, Bioinformatics, Developing your Administrative Techniques/ Management Skills, Teaching in Primarily Undergraduate Institutions, Obtaining a Good Postdoc Position, Sabbatical & Time-outs: Long-term Career Strategizing, Integrity & Ethics and Unique Issues Facing Women in Science. Co-chairs for the 2000 event were Sandra K. Masur, Mary Ann Stepp, Julie Theriot and Roger Sloboda.

WICB Evening Program
What are the unwritten rules that you ultimately need to know to be successful in your institution or organization? How do you learn them before you inadvertantly break them? These questions were the focus of the WICB evening program at this year’s meeting, and the room was full as Donella Wilson, Julie Theriot, Mina Bissell and Frank Solomon dramatized how easy it is to make mistakes when you do NOT know the “unwritten rules.” The four experienced ASCB members de-briefed their role plays by acknowledging silent expectations and how to understand them. In addition to giving advice to those starting careers, they also emphasized the importance for senior scientists to take responsibility for mentoring and to make clear expectations from newer personnel.

“Rules” that struck particular chords included seeking out advice from both peers and more senior mentors about expectations, regardless of what has been written down or discussed previously. Such advice and evaluation should be sought repeatedly, and from more than one person. “One who assumes to ‘know the ropes,’ may wind up hanging himself out of ignorance,” noted one speaker. Participants were urged to be sensitive to the culture of their environment and of those with whom they work; to listen to smalltalk as well as to formal discussion. Learning about those who have been successful in one’s institution was thought to provide important information for oneself. A future ASCB Newsletter WICB Column will address common rules for students through senior professionals in different scientific occupations.

In addition to a simple delineation of “rules,” however, the power of the evening session came from encouraging the audience to identify mentors, defined by Donella Wilson as, “someone who can tell you something you really need to know.” The evening’s panelists urged not to expect mentors to provide only guidance, but to ask and insist that they provide criticism as well. It was recognized that the latter is the hardest, for both involved, but frank discussion is necessary to ensure awareness of those “rules” that dictate success.

The audience raised many issues, including several about serious omissions or commissions that negatively impact careers, and how such events might have been avoided had the “Unwritten Rules” been understood. The session concluded after an hour, but the conversations concerning the topic continued long afterwards.

 


Gifts
  01/01/2001

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

Marcus Fechheimer
Martin Joyce-Brady
Sumiko Kimura
David Kirk
Eileen LeMosy
Wayne Lencer
Ulrike Lichti
Michael Marks
Takashi Morimoto
Thomas Pollard
Jean-Paul Revel

 


ASCB MAC Programs
  01/01/2001

Marine Biological Laboratories Courses
Deadline March 1

Friday Harbor Laboratories Summer Quarter Courses and Internships Deadline: March 1

ASCB/MAC Visiting Professorships
Deadline: March 2
select “Committees;” then “Minorities.”

These ASCB MAC programs are funded through a NIH NIGMS Minorities Access to Research Careers grant.

 


Minorities Poster Session Winners
  01/01/2001

Forty-seven minority scientists participated in the MAC Poster competition (over twice as many as in 1999).

The session provides additional opportunities for minority scientists to network with interested senior scientists and to provide guidance and reinforcement to young minority scientists. Cash awards for outstanding posters were provided by the MAC and winners were recognized at the MAC Awards Luncheon. Posters are presented during the MAC poster session in addition to the participants regularly scheduled poster session.

Undergraduate Calvin Williams, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Honorable Mention: Sherimay Ablan, National Cancer Institute/NIH and Roberto Ricardo, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

Graduate Student Alexis Rodriquez, Rutgers University
Honorable Mention: Carla Gardner, Meharry Medical College

Postdoc/Faculty Robert Scott, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Honorable Mention: Margaret ColdenStanfield, Morehouse School of Medicine and Michael Garcia, University of California, San Diego

 


ASCB/Zeiss Road Race Winners and Times
  01/01/2001

Men’s 5K: Mike Smiley, 16:33
Women’s 5K: Mary Schlessing, 25:16
Men’s 10K: Chad Hales, 33:40
Women’s 10K: Marjan Huizing, 39:32

 


Annual Members’ Meeting Draws ASCB Faithful
  01/01/2001

Education, Minorities, Public Policy, Public Information and WICB Set Agendas for 2001

ASCB Business Meeting
ASCB President Richard Hynes presided at the Annual Members’ Business Meeting, announcing that the Society had for the first time exceeded 10,000 members.

Membership Committee Chair Larry Goldstein noted that it is the goal of the ASCB to reach 15,000 members by the Society’s 50th Anniversary in 2010.

Goldstein read the names of the eight members who had died since the previous year: John D. Anderson, Greace G. Deanin, Michael Getz, Norton B. Gilula, Loren H. Hoffman, Jull E. Hungerford, LuAnn M. Klemme and John H. Walsh. He asked for a moment of silence in their memory.

Goldstein announced that the ASCB will establish a memorial fund for deceased members. Hynes reported on the success of the past year and congratulated the ASCB staff for a smooth transition into the Society’s new office space with no interruption in service to the members.

He noted that MBC is running effectively, thanks to David Botstein, Stacie Lemick and the ASCB publications staff, contributing modest financial returns to the Society. He reported that the proportion of online subscriptions is increasing and that MBC’s content is accessible free to the public after two months through HighWire and Pub Med Central. Hynes commended ASCB Public Policy Director and Public Policy Committee leaders Paul Berg and Larry Goldstein for facilitating increased visibility in Congress resulting in more money for the NIH and the NSF and on behalf of important policy issues, such as stem cells.

Hynes announced that Daphne Preuss was appointed this year to the Public Policy Committee and noted her significant and successful contributions to Congressional debate on Genetically Modified Organisms. Hynes reported that the ASCB has issued a position on GMOs (accessible at www.ascb.org). He applauded the Biomedical Research Caucus for its effectiveness in educating Members of Congress on science policy issues.

Treasurer Carl Cohen thanked members of the Finance Committee for their service. He reviewed the Society’s asset allocation for its investment fund, which is 44% in bonds; 43% in stocks; 11% in liquid assets; and 2% in convertible securities. Cohen reported that the Society’s investment portfolio is strong and has achieved the goal of the Finance Committee of reaching $2 million (equivalent to about half of the Society’s operating budget). Cohen noted that due to the extraordinary success of anniversary ASCB fund-raising efforts (see page 16), the Society will do well financially again this year, but he noted that new initiatives such as the online journal Cell Biology Education will impose significant new costs.

Cohen noted that members, especially students and postdocs, tend to be particularly sensitive to dues, which is why member dues have remained fairly consistent over the years.

Cohen strongly encouraged members to visit the Exhibit Hall at the Annual Meetings.

Hynes closed the meeting by passing the ceremonial gavel to 2001 President Elaine Fuchs. Fuchs thanked Hynes for effecting a smooth transition, and also acknowledged Elizabeth Marincola, J.K. Haynes, Larry Goldstein, Frank Solomon and Zena Werb. She welcomed new chairs Joan Brugge (Program), Suzanne Pfeffer (Constitution & ByLaws), and Ursula Goodenough (Nominating).

Fuchs announced that during her term she will emphasize the interface of the cell biology community with K-12 teachers.

Education Committee Committee
Chair Frank Solomon welcomed new Committee member Elisa Stone of the Science and Health Education Partnership of the University of California, San Francisco and MAC representative Raquel Holmes of the Boston University Center for Computational Sciences.

President-elect Elaine Fuchs indicated her intention to devote her term as Society President to contributions to K-12 science education. She asked Committee members for suggestions for a 2001 Annual Meeting event under development, “The President’s Initiative: Educating Future Scientists” featuring a panel of leaders in education.

Solomon reported on findings of the study sponsored by the Sloan Foundation and on the progress of the Search Committee to identify the Editor-in-Chief of Cell Biology Education.

Robert Blystone will organize the 2001 Education Workshop on “Integrating Mathematics (Quantitation) into Cell Biology Education.” There was concern that current textbooks do not adequately present the mathematics involved in cell biology and encouraged Blystone to include textbook authors and publishers in workshop planning.

Robert Bloodgood will promote opportunities for NSF funding for high school teachers and faculty at primarily teaching institutions through NSF Research Opportunity Awards.

Plans for the ASCB Symposium at the 2001 National Association for Biology Teachers meeting and Education Initiative Forum presentations at the 2001 ASCB Annual Meeting will be developed by Committee Members Christopher Watters and Constance Oliver, respectively.

Minorities Affairs Committee
Chair J.K. Haynes welcomed new Committee member Raquel Holmes of Boston University Center for Computational Science.

Vice Chair Donella Wilson reviewed her report to Council. She announced the NIH’s plan to create the Center for Minority Health.

Haynes indicated that the MAC/MARC grant report for 1999 has been submitted to the NIH. The request for 2001 included an annual meeting of Linkage Fellows to report on programs and share strategies, and a request for financial support for five teams of professors and undergraduate students to attend the ASCB Annual Meeting. Unlike the ASCB MAC travel awards, participants in this program are not required to submit a scientific abstract to the ASCB Annual Meeting, and may not be participating in an undergraduate research project.

In 2000, 57 MAC travel award applications were received, and 40 applicants were funded. Of the applicants, 20 were undergraduate students, in contrast to the prior year when there were no applications from undergraduate students. Haynes recognized the impact of the ASCB Linkage Fellows on the increase in submissions for travel awards. Five Linkage Fellows attended the ASCB Annual Meeting with their students.

Scott Schwinge of Friday Harbor Laboratories led a discussion of strategies to facilitate use of MAC funds to support minority participation in courses and internships at the FHL. In MAC publicity, students will be encouraged to self-identify on the FHL application form and to send a duplicate of their application to the ASCB so that minority students can receive support.

Forty-seven posters were reviewed for poster awards. Review Chair Don Kimmel with Yolanda Mock and Pamela GunterSmith, judged the posters.

The Committee will implement refinements to some ASCB Annual Meeting activities for 2001: to allow more time for discussions, the MAC Awards Lunch will begin at 12 noon instead of 12:30 p.m. A Chair for the 2001 Saturday Mentoring Symposium will be selected in the Spring, to become an ad hoc member of the MAC for two years. Discussions will again be scheduled in the EdComm/MAC Information Booth.

MBC Editorial Board Meeting
Molecular Biology of the Cell Editor-in-Chief David Botstein acknowledged the extraordinary efforts of Stacie Lemick and Rebecca Wason during the recruitment for a Managing Editor for MBC. Botstein introduced Stephanie Dean, who will start as Managing Editor in January, coming from the Society of Nuclear Medicine.

The Board discussed performance measures, with the goal of decreasing the average number of days for manuscript review and committing to a seven-day turnaround by Monitoring Editors. Botstein also addressed sensible growth management. Board members agreed to enlist new reviewers and to solicit a larger volume of manuscripts.

Lemick presented an update on the MBC Electronic Peer Review System, developed by EJPress and customized to the requirements of MBC. The system has completed Beta testing and is expected to go live within the next few months. Details concerning the resolution and reproduction quality of digital art will be addressed at the next MBC Editorial Board meeting.

The Board discussed access to archival issues of MBC. PubMed Central is working to create an interactive archive of published MBC papers to allow access to the full scientific literature.

Suzanne Pfeffer announced her resignation as the Cover Editor for MBC. Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz was appointed to succeed her. The Board extended its appreciation to Pfeffer, who will remain an associate editor, for her outstanding contributions as Cover Editor.

Public Information Committee
Elephant seals and cholesterol, an unexpected connection to a devastating kidney disorder, a drosophila model for malaria, and myosin motors in the nucleus: these were some of the papers selected by the Public Information Committee for this year’s Press Book. Starting with nearly 1300 abstracts submitted for minisymposia, the ASCB Public Information Committee winnowed them down to 16 selected abstracts offering a combination of scientific heft and general news value. With the new ASCB Science Writer John Fleischman, selected authors and PIC members reworked the 16 abstracts into 15 short news articles (two papers on the centrosome’s role as a cancer telltale were combined) to catch press attention before, during and after the meeting.

It seemed to work. Press credentials were issued to 60 journalists over four days, including representatives from Reuters Health, Science, Nature, New Scientist, the San Francisco Chronicle, and several biomedical web news services. A dozen reporters turned up for the Monday afternoon news conference. Most impressively, BioMedNet sent a team of reporters and editors who provided daily coverage of the meeting.

Fleischman, who comes to the ASCB from Harvard Medical School, said he hopes to better coordinate ASCB’s news releases with the public information departments of the authors’ home institutions for the 2001 Press Book. Targeting the Press Book to individual science reporters, especially from national newspapers, newsmagazines and National Public Radio, is another priority.

Working from the conviction that cell biology is too important to leave to cell biologists, the PIC intends to broaden its geographic representation with a Press Liaison Council. Local ASCB members would raise media consciousness about the growing economic as well as medical importance of basic biological research to local economies. Still to be figured out: how to contact media “gatekeepers,” how to marshal the facts effectively, and how to use the Society’s national network on a local level. One suggestion was to study tapes of the briefings that the Joint Steering Committee has organized on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus and to see if they can be adapted for local press briefings.

Other projects discussed include how to use the ASCB website to better distribute news stories, and how to jump-start the long-stalled but still exciting notion of a PBS-style series on the cellular basis of life and disease. The Committee also authorized member Kip Sluder to collect historic footage and images from the early years of cell biology for preservation and archiving.

Public Policy Committee
Annual Meeting Activities—The Committee reviewed its Annual Meeting events for 2000 including the Public Service Award, “Congress 201,” the Congressional Liaison Committee reception, the Practice of Science Panel on “The Changing Position of Postdocs” and the Demonstration Study Section.

Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy
—Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy Congressional Liaison Peter Kyros reviewed the year’s advocacy activities on Capitol Hill. Usually by the time of the ASCB meeting in December, all of the Appropriations bill are complete, but this year the Labor, Health & Human Services bill was still pending. Kyros was still hopeful that the NIH would receive a 15% budget increase in FY 2001, but he warned of the possibility that the NIH could be funded all year by a Continuing Resolution, which would flatfund the agency. The VA/ HUD Appropriations bill, which funds the National Science Foundation, had passed with a 13.6% increase. Kyros reported on the advocacy efforts of the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy and the ASCB, including many visits by scientists to Capitol Hill, speeches on the floor of the House and letter-writing. He urged the Committee to keep encouraging Congressional Liaison Committee members to write thank-you letters to Congresspeople who have supported doubling the NIH budget over five years and to encourage them to renew their commitment to this goal in the coming year.

CLC members will also be encouraged to publish letters-to-the-editor and op-eds in their local newspapers.

The Committee discussed plans for the coming year and for the FY2002 budget, including meeting with the Bush Administration and Members of Congress. The Committee felt it more important than ever to justify the continued increases in the NIH budget.

Congressional Liaison Committee—Joint Steering Committee CLC Chairman Tom Pollard introduced CLC Coordinators Matt Zonarich and Michelle Grifka. Zonarich reported on the local organizing efforts in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Illinois where the CLC has concentrated its work. Membership has reached 388 in Pennsylvania, 186 in North Carolina and 181 in Illinois. Many CLC members have traveled to Washington to meet with their Representative or Congressional staffs, while others have organized congressional meetings in their home district. Hundreds of letters and phone calls have been made on key issues.

More Capitol Hill days for Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois and California, and for postdocs and graduate students nationally, will be organized for the Spring.

California Coordinator Grifka described the demographics of the over 300 CLC members in that state. She will be working to expand membership and organize meetings throughout California between scientists and their Representatives. The Committee discussed plans to expand the local organizing effort to New York, to be coordinated by Zonarich.

Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus— J. Michael Bishop, Scientific Advisor to the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, is developing plans for the twelfth season of Caucus briefings. Membership in the House of Representatives is over 100. The Caucus is organizing an orientation briefing for new Members and staff on biomedical research to take place soon after the first of the year.

Stem Cell Research —The Committee acknowledged the ASCB’s leadership in advocating for stem cell research on Capitol Hill, expressing concern that despite the Society’s efforts, the Bush Administration will overturn the guidelines enabling the research. The Committee will continue to work with patient and scientific groups to advocate for federal funding of stem cell research and oppose efforts to block such research.

NIH Directorship—The Committee discussed the appointment of a new NIH Director. Various candidates were discussed. It was expected that the Society will play an important role in the choice of the next Director as it did with the last one. The Committee registered its hope that the Bush Administration follows the model of hiring a leader with strong scientific credentials.

Related Sciences—Committee member Ursula Goodenough discussed the recent reorganization of the Life and Microgravity section at NASA which she believes was prompted in part by the 1998 ASCB report that was critical of NASA’s research in this area. Goodenough also described the positive progress being made at the NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine which also benefited from the Society’s advice that the Center emphasize peer reviewed research funded on a competitive basis.

Genetically Modified Organisms—Daphne Preuss reported that the ASCB’s statement in support of Genetically Modified Organisms has been praised by congressional leaders and used by Members of Congress to encourage other scientific groups to get involved in the advocacy effort. Pointing to the recent controversy about genetically modified corn used in taco shells, Preuss indicated that she is convinced that the Society will have to have to redouble its advocacy efforts in the coming year. She is hopeful that plant biologists, individually and through organizations, will engage Congress regarding GMOs.

Animal Research — The Committee discussed the proposed changes to animal welfare regulations for reporting “pain” and “distress,” and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would include rats, mice and birds in the definition. While Congress has delayed the final rule on rats, mice and birds for a year, this issue will eventually require Society action. Committee member and ASCB President Richard Hynes has written to the USDA on behalf of the Society regarding the proposal to change the definition of “pain” and “distress.”

Women in Cell Biology Committee The ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee met under the chairmanship of Zena Werb. In attendance at the meeting last month were members Caroline Kane, Elizabeth Marincola, Sandra Masur, Mary Ann Stepp, Julie Theriot, Leana Topper, Sue Wick, and Virginetta Cannon (liaison with the Minorities Affairs Committee). Trina Armstrong provided administrative support.

The Committee devoted much of its attention to finalizing and refining plans for WICB events at the 2000 ASCB Annual Meeting. The careers lunch continues to be well-attended.

The Committee noted the sharply increased interest in biotechnology at the Careers Lunch and discussed strategies to recruit sufficient table hosts to accommodated demand for this topic.

The Evening Program topic this year featured The Unwritten Rules for Career Advancement, building on the successful role-play format from the 1999 Annual Meeting. Organizer Caroline Kane and the Committee had vetted script topics for the program and discussed possible “actors” to participate.

Ideas for several WICB columns for the ASCB Newsletter were developed and potential authors identified from within and outside the WICB committee.

Speakers Bureau organizers Sandra Masur and Caroline Kane reported on the ASCB Speakers Bureau and announced their goal of identifying and listing 200 entries by year end.

 


Shalala Receives Public Service Award
  01/01/2001

The Honorable Donna Shalala, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, received received the ASCB Public Service Award. Harold Varmus, President of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and former head of the National Institutes of Health under Shalala, introduced the Secretary. Varmus’ and Shalala’s comments follow:

Varmus: I am very honored and pleased that Paul Berg, Chairman of this award’s committee, has asked me to introduce this year’s Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology, and as you know it’s the Honorable Donna Shalala, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. For most of the people in this room, sitting or standing, the NIH is the source of our sustenance for our training and our research; its fate is our fate. Because the fate of the NIH is inextricably linked to the leadership of the Department of Health & Human Services, there is for us no more important commodity in government than wise leadership of the Department. I’m not a member of the awards committee; I’ll make that admission on the outset, but the Secretary — Donna from now on— was my boss for over six years, and I was privileged to work closely with her in good and even not-sogood times. So I am here to give you an insider’s view to explain why the Society has chosen her for this honor and, equally important, to describe those qualities, personal qualities, indeed, that have made her so successful at doing things for others over so many years.

So what has Donna done? And what it is about her that has made all these things possible?

First of all: Donna is an innovative and decisive administrator, indeed a political scientist of administration.

As she once put it: ‘that’s what I do for a living. I run large institutions, public mostly, and I improve them.’

She has her academic credentials, of course— a doctorate from the famed Maxwell School at Syracuse University, professional posts at Columbia & Teachers College and other places, and membership in the National Academy of Public Administration. But like all truly successful administrators, her real credentials are her accomplishments. Many of these date from the years before becoming the Secretary of DHHS. In the 1970s, for example, as an officer of the New York City Municipal Assistance Corporation, she is credited with saving the city in which I now live from bankruptcy.

As a young Assistant Secretary at HUD in the Carter Administration, she won praise, tolerated frustrations and made many of the friends who have helped in her current job. She served for eight sterling years as head of Hunter College. I recently learned that during that period she improved the subway stop that I now use at 68th & Lexington; her power was widespread and this and many other things she did at Hunter earned her the honor of being the first woman to head a Big Ten University, as Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin. There she is remembered as a great advocate for the school, a good teacher, a friend of science and scientists, as a remarkable fundraiser, and, not least, as the person who reversed the athletic image of the school by taking it to victory in the Rose Bowl.

Before focusing on our own interest in her efforts for the NIH, let’s take a moment to note that her successes over the last eight years were not confined to the NIH. Her legacy includes dramatic increases in childhood vaccination rates; revitalization of the FDA and other Public Health Service agencies; control of fraud and abuse in medical reimbursement; growth of Head Start; increased numbers of insured children who are now insured through state programs; establishment of high standards for quality of health care and a strengthened Medicare Trust Fund.

So what was distinctive about her administrative role at the NIH?

In 1993 she was interviewed by Science magazine for the first of multiple times and she told her interviewers that, “no first rate applicant for the NIH directorship ought to take that job under the present bureaucratic arrangement”. And indeed she very quickly delivered on her promises once a new Director was in place. This may seem like bureaucratic stuff but actually it’s crucial:

  • she established direct reporting of all the Public Health Services agency heads, including the NIH Director, to her directly—no interference, no running through the Assistant Secretary of Health, as much as we love Phil Lee, streamlining the bureaucracy and increasing our stature of such Directors and our independence. As a result of this – and of the terrific response to the reporting that we made to her – there was no further talk among my colleagues or me about making the NIH a totally independent agency.
  • Donna was effective in delegating authorities for appointments and salaries from the Department to the Institutes. You may think this, again, is bureaucracy, but its incredibly important. It gives to the people who are actually doing the work the flexibility and influence at the Institutes that we needed to pay competitive salaries, to carry out decision making in a timely and efficient manner and to improve morale and intramural science.
  • She knew how to develop support for things we wanted to undertake by commissioning outside reviews, [such as when] she carried out a review of the Clinical Center that led to the appropriations for construction of a new clinical center at the NIH.

Now in earlier administrations, the Secretary and the NIH Director intersected only rarely, and that distance was very often viewed as a distinct advantage. The new and more intimate arrangement between the NIH Director and the Secretary worked, not only because Donna is a great administrator, but because she has other qualities as well. Here’s a list:

  • First, happily for all of us, she has the instincts of a scientist and an academic … She believes in evidence-based, and not politically-motivated, decision making. She encourages an authentic academic style in her searches for leaders, always seeking the best who can be found anywhere. She likes talking to scientists and about scientists: when she was at the University of Wisconsin she developed a warm relationship with Howard Temen, who influenced my life pretty profoundly. She was happy to be interviewed by the reporters from Science magazine; she enjoyed bringing the NIH Directors down to the Hubert Humphrey Building to talk about science or come out to our place to talk science with them; she enjoyed meeting students. … In short, the NIH was for Madame Secretary her university within government.
  • The next trait that I want to speak to is a very important one. Donna Shalala is strategic; the things she does she does with something in mind and is good for those of us who want to get things done. One of her first goals was to be sure that the White House—that is the President, his wife, and other senior people—were paying attention to what went on at the NIH. And one of the first things that she did was to help us arrange a visit in February 1994 bringing the First Lady to the NIH. … This led to a visit by Chelsea Clinton who spent a week at the NIH working on protease mutants in bacteria and then a visit from the President himself who came out to talk about the Family Leave Act and then stayed for several hours of briefings. Another strategic effort that Donna made on our behalf frequently occurred at holiday time: the Christmas season when the President’s budget for the Department and NIH were still frequently under debate and she’d wait until all the other Secretaries had left town and then go down to OMB. There were always those series of high level individuals from the Office of Management & Budget who were available for arm twisting and that was the way in which she always wrung those few extra dollars out of the OMB bean counters.

    When John Glenn proposed to do his auto-experimentation on aging in space, she brought him and the NASA astronauts to the NIH to raise our visibility to NASA-like heights. Then, after helping to orchestrate the new NIH Vaccine Research Center, which is probably the fastest-built new building in government history, she brought the President to campus to dedicate the Dale & Debbie Bumpers Vaccine Research Center sometime about two years ago.

  • A third quality about the Secretary that needs careful attention is the fact that she cares… she cares at the personal level and she cares from a global perspective and at the same time, as many of you know, she is unpretentious and she is fun.

The personal touch is an important one. I’ve seen her on her hands and knees talking with kids who have diabetes; running around the NIH Children’s Inn with the First Lady; she was all too happy to help with recruitments, talking to spouses, arranging for jobs, looking for housing, even at the level of Branch Chiefs—not simply Institute Directors. Somewhere along in my term at the NIH she took pity on me because I had claimed in public that I never had a proper swearing-in ceremony and she came out to the NIH and met with some folks, some of whom you will recognize as members of the Society—Rick Klausner, Bruce Alberts—and agreed to swear me on in a copy of Dickens’s Great Expectations. I was only relieved it was not Bleak House.

But she’s always seen the global impact of her interests as well. This began when she was little more than a teenager as a member of the Peace Corps in Iran.

She enjoyed throwing out the first pitch [at a Major League Baseball game] — but she did this again in a strategic fashion exhibiting not simply her love for sport which extends well beyond baseball to hiking, golf, tennis and other sports, but also using the occasion to work with the Major Leagues to combat the use of smokeless tobacco.

Donna has always been concerned about what science can do for disease and about what policy makers can do to get our advances into practice, [so on] a regular basis I would bring two or three or four Institute Directors down to the Humphrey Building and we’d talk about drug abuse, or detecting hearing loss or getting the word out about treatment of stroke in a way that did have its impact on public policy and the use of the science that we do to benefit the public.

Let me say a little about another topic and that is that Donna is virtuous… she has a clear sense of what needs to be done for the public. When scientists talk about the Genome Project she’s firm about the importance of privacy and freedom from discrimination on the basis of our genetic make-up. She has been a strong leader in efforts to protect human subjects and to elevate the way in which we carry out our protection of human subjects in clinical research; she has been a firm believer in clear-minded oversight of misconduct in science and directed the Department early in my tenure there to undertake a complete re-evaluation of the way in which we oversee allegations of misconduct.

Donna is brave …There was much talk in Washington about a year ago about her bravery in resisting two to three individuals who attempted to mug her next to a cash outlet on Wisconsin Avenue. She fell into a fetal position, called out and at the same time recorded the license plate of the fleeing muggers; they were apprehended. But what I was much more impressed with during my time than this incident was her bravery on many other fronts— her bravery in standing up to the White House on the issue of federal funding for needle exchange research and provision of needles; her willingness to take on vested interests on the distribution of organs for transplantation; her willingness to go with me to see the Vice President to insist on independent budgeting and priority setting by the NIH; her willingness to take on Congress about stem cell research.

A further word about stem cells because of the important role that this Society and Paul Berg in particular have had in the debate over stem cells. A critical element of the Administration’s strategy was the NIH request, facilitated by the Secretary, for a ruling from the Department on the legality of federal funding for work with human embryonic stem cells. When the NIH issued its longawaited guidelines this past August, President Clinton, in announcing these guidelines, said as follows, ‘Secretary Shalala and I had a long talk about this before we came out to the Rose Garden this morning. I think that if the public will look at the potentially staggering benefits of this research – everything from birth defects, to Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s, to diabetes…to certain kinds of cancers, spinal cord injuries, burns…the potential to change the future, the health future for Americans—and for people around the world is breathtaking.’ Clearly she gets the message that we all care about to resonate at very high levels indeed.

Finally, Donna is durable. She has, as we all know, an unequalled record of service as Secretary of the Department. This durability is crucial for us; contrast that with the short-term served by most Secretaries in the Reagan Administration, for example. But we all have to acknowledge that in the upper ranks of government, as in life, good things do come to an end.

Happily, the Secretary is going to run a place— the University of Miami— where biomedical research thrives and where her penchant for improving urban lives can be satisfied. I suspect it is also a place where her two other publicly announced criteria for her next job can be at least partially fulfilled: fewer disclosure forms and flying first class.

So on the eve of an extraordinary eight years of service to her country, to public health, and to science, I feel privileged to lead this audience in giving this extraordinary person one of the loudest and longest of her Last Hurrahs.

Shalala: Thank you very much. Let me thank Paul Berg and the American Society for Cell Biology for this wonderful award; I’m deeply touched. I did say when I received the letter about the Award that I would come after the election. So everything that Harold said about my political skills are not fulfilled with this timing. Let me thank my very good friend, Harold Varmus, and to thank him not only for the wonderful things he said about me but more importantly for his service. All of us who are citizens of this country, in fact, all of you who are citizens of the world, need to thank Harold Varmus. He was the right man at the right time. His investment in the National Institutes of Health are important not simply to the scientists in this room but to a new generation of scientists. That’s why the President wanted to recruit him to head the NIH but that’s the job he did which was more than a job; it was extraordinary vision and leadership. It was a pleasure and a lot of fun to work with him and I want to thank him publicly for his leadership of the National Institutes of Health. Thank you, Harold.

In some ways you’re honoring me today for work that we did together and I want to thank Paul Berg who chaired the Public Policy section of the American Society, I want to thank Richard Hynes, I want to thank my friend Mike Bishop; in fact there are at least 20 people in this room that I tried to recruit at one point or another in one of my careers. I want to thank and acknowledge Elaine Fuchs, the new President-elect of The American Society for Cell Biology. And just say a few words in accepting this award from all of you. Obviously many people have described this as the golden age of biomedical research. It would not have happened if we had not had the scientific leaders that are representative of this room; it would not have happened, I think, without the push that Harold Varmus and the quality that he brought to lead the National Institutes of Health. There are a lot of scientists who have joined us in this room and there are many scientists at the National Institutes of Health that I had the opportunity to work with in addition to Harold.

Of course, Ruth Kirschstein and Al Rabson and Francis Collins, Rick Klausner, and Tony Fauci and Steve Hyman, Gerry Fischbach, and Alan Leshner, all the NIH Institute Directors; Florence Haseltine is here today. I worked with extraordinary scientists, many of whom Harold recruited himself and all of them I learned from during the course of my career at the Department of Health & Human Services. But I also leave the Department with some concerns: both about the period that we’re in and what we need to do in the future. In many ways, The American Society, by focusing on young people and making sure that we coax the next generation of young people into science, is making probably the most important contribution that we can make, any of us.

But there are other things that we all must be concerned about: not letting our science getting ahead of our ethics, making sure that we’re neither arrogant nor sloppy in the protection of human subjects; making sure that we stand our ground on the importance of basic research in this country and not allowing the disease-specific, goodhearted as they are, groups to reallocate the budget of the National Institutes of Health; making certain that we maintain institutions of the highest standards. One can see the difference between this country and Europe because we have at least three remarkable institutions, the NIH, the FDA, and the CDC, which have both the integrity and the credibility and the respect of the American people on scientific questions and what a difference that makes when you get into complicated issues. And in many Harold taught me a lot about the importance of having scientific spokespeople on these important issues and keeping the political people as far away. The White House accused me of not letting any one speak unless they were eligible for a white coat. And they were absolutely right.

Because I believe that both strong institutions and strong spokespeople of great integrity and great independence from a political culture are important for Americans to trust science, even a science that they often don’t understand and that that will continue the progress that so many of us have been committed to over the years. I also believe that this country’s investment in the great academic institutions, and the research institutions in particular, has been critical to our economic success. And one of the things that the President and this Administration got, and I believe as Harold I know, knows, that the economic leaders of this Administration, have been strong supporters of science is because they understood the relationship between basic science and our economic health in this country and around the world. But these institutions are also very fragile; I love to tell the story of a visit I made to Japan during my tenure as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in which I visited one of the great Japanese gardens and I said to the minister whose garden it was, ‘Could I borrow your gardener to take back to Madison, Wisconsin?’ and he said ‘to get a garden this beautiful it would take my gardener and 100 years.’ That is the story of the extraordinary research institutions, network of institutions that we have developed in this country.

They are all so terribly fragile and the level of support is important but one of the things that I have learned from all of you is the steadiness of support is just as important so that you can say to the next generation of young scientists, ‘Yes, you will have a career in research, yes those resources will be here for you.’ And finally, I want to acknowledge my tutor, my first real tutor in science, Howard Temen. When I first arrived at Wisconsin from New York in 1987, Howard Temen asked to see me. It was actually my first day on the job. I didn’t even know where his laboratory was; I had to find some undergraduate to tell me where his laboratory was. And I went to see Howard which began a series of tutorials about the culture of science that became very important for my leadership of HHS as well my leadership of that particular great research university. Howard made a series of very practical and pragmatic suggestions in terms of the education of a political scientist leading a great research university.

He told me that I should participate in the site visits when NIH panels came to visit the university and I did. He told me to that I should get involved in the recruitment of scientists and in particular, putting together and understanding the packages it took to recruit both young scientists as well as senior scientists and he told me that I ought to meet regularly with the Principle Investigators, with the PIs, and he was the person who encouraged me when I was invited to join the Director ’s Advisory Committee at the National Institutes of Health.

But it was really my conversations with Howard about what it took to do first class science that educated me thoroughly in a way that helped me when I got to the Department of Health & Human Services. I wish that every university chancellor or president in this country could have as good a tutorial as I had over the years of Howard Temen and I think that he would be very pleased that his student received this award from the cell biologists. So I want to thank all of the scientists who have tutored me over the years; I want to thank Harold and Mike, and Paul and Elaine and all of you who are here and tell you never give up on political scientists, you never know when you can turn them into one of your greatest advocates. But more importantly, to remind you that the enterprise which we support and love is very fragile and the kind of consistent support that we need requires that we build not simply support in one political party but from every political party and more importantly, from the American people who in the end are the people who determine the quality of our investments in this country. Thank you very much.

 


WWW.Cell Biology Education
  01/01/2001

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.

During the ASCB Annual Meeting, incoming President Elaine Fuchs indicated that a high priority item for her was to bring attention to educational outreach for K-12 school children and teachers. The ASCB Bruce Alberts Award this year went to ASCB member Virginia L. Shepherd in recognition of her considerable outreach efforts. This WWW column will focus on issues associated with science education in the United States.

  • The Nation’s Report Card
    Where do American K-12 science students rate in their science ability? The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) has been following the academic performance of 4th, 8th, and 12th graders since 1969. The web site listed above may be viewed as either a goldmine or landmine of information about the general state of America’s children’s knowledge. By selecting “Science” on the homepage, you will be taken to a page titled “focus on Science.” A wide variety of information is listed here including assessment, long-term trends, and links to various NAEP reports and data. One feature of the site is the ability to find student science performance by state. Sample questions are also available with how those questions were scored. Also included are examples of correct and wrong student responses to the questions. These questions and results can be downloaded as Acrobat PDF files. If you are using a 56K modem for access, it is a bit slow. The site is information dense and can give you a great deal of processed and raw educational data. As you work with the information, a clearer picture of the current state of K-12 science education emerges.
  • The Agenda Project Report
    The second web site allows one to gain an overview of postsecondary education in the United States. This Department of Education site has six major sections. Excerpts from the Introductory section are quoted below. “In the fall of 2000, approximately 15.1 million students enrolled at postsecondary institutions. More than 40 percent of these students are enrolled parttime, and a similar proportion are older than 24 years of age. This fall enrollment figure, which is substantially less than yearround enrollment, is projected to reach 17.5 million by 2010. Additionally, more Americans are taking adult courses and certificate programs in 1998, 50 percent of adults participated in formal learning. ... Unfortunately, about one-third of students who enter college or trade school drop out before they earn a certificate or degree. ... Today, more than 66 percent of students enter college the fall after they graduate (from high school). ... This fall, a record 53 million students are enrolled in grades K-12. ... the U.S. Department of Education¹s present investment in graduate education is only 5 percent of its total investment in postsecondary education: $100 million in program dollars out of a $17 billion budget for postsecondary education and $2.5 billion in graduate students loans out of a total loan volume of over $40 billion.” The report develops five themes: 1) ensuring all students are prepared to go to college and succeed; 2) examine the roles and responsibilities in paying for college; 3) improving teacher quality; 4) integrating technology and distance education into the curriculum; and 5) revitalizing international education. The report concludes with a list of 38 proposed actions.
  • Kids and Computers Girls and Science (It’s a GAS)
    Virtual School at Vanderbilt: Homeroom Partners in Education ASCB member Virginia L. Shepherd received the third annual ASCB Bruce Alberts Award in recognition of her extensive K-12 outreach work as a faculty member at Vanderbilt University. She was inspired to initiate the effort when challenged by Bruce Alberts a few years back. The five URLs listed above present a brief overview of her extensive efforts in the Nashville area. The first pair of sites describes a weekend computer camp held at Vanderbilt for elementary students. The third site outlines a summer science camp held for middle school girls. The last site represents the combined efforts of Vanderbilt, Meharry and the Nashville Public Schools on a project called Partners in Education. It is clear to see why Dr. Shepherd received this year’s Alberts Award. By following the developments in science education described at the first two web sites (Dept. of Education and NAEP), you can see why the efforts of Virginia Shepherd and other members of the ASCB are so necessary. It is also easy to understand why ASCB President Elaine Fuchs has made this topic one of her presidential priorities.

These sites were checked December 22, 2000. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational Websites with the links to the sites may be found online.

 


ASCB Member Memorial Fellowship
  01/01/2001

The Society has established a Memorial Travel Fellowship Fund in memory of ASCB members who are deceased. Gifts from friends, family and colleagues in memory of ASCB members will be acknowledged, and the member’s spouse or survivors will be notified of the gift. Consistent with the wishes of donors and families, the names of donors and the member who they are honoring will be published in the ASCB Newsletter.

An ad hoc committee will select an outstanding student to receive the ASCB Member Memorial Travel Fellowship to attend the Annual Meeting each year.

Donations should be directed to The American Society for Cell Biology Member Memorial Travel Fellowship, 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2775.

 


ASCB Placement Service
  01/01/2001

Employer job postings and limited information on registered candidates are now available on the ASCB website. Candidates may contact employers directly.

Detailed candidate information is available in the 2000 Candidate Packet, with information on 161 candidates who registered with the ASCB Placement Service before and during the 2000 ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco, including name, address, type of work desired, citizenship, date of availability, academic training, professional experience, specialties and publications. Candidate information is available upon request at no extra charge to employers who participated in the 2000 ASCB Placement Service. Non-profit employers who did not participate in the 2000 ASCB Placement Service may purchase a Candidate Packet for $75; commercial non-participating employers may purchase one for $200.

 


Members In The News
  01/01/2001

Former ASCB President Mina Bissell will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University Pierre at Marie Curie, France.

Gerald D. Fischbach, ASCB member since 1990, has been appointed Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Columbia University.

ASCB President Elaine Fuchs, an ASCB member since 1980, will receive the 2001 Richard Lounsbery Award from the National Academy of Sciences.

Zach W. Hall, ASCB member since 1983, has been appointed Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Former ASCB President Morris J. Karnovsky, ASCB member since 1964, received the David Glick Award from the International Federation of Societies for Histochemistry in recognition of lifetime contributions in cytochemistry, and the Earl P. Benditt Award for lifetime achievement in Vascular Biology from the North American Vascular Biology Organization.

 


Third Annual ASCB/Promega Early Career Life Scientist Award Call for Nominations
  01/01/2001

Nominations are solicited for the third annual ASCBPromega Early Career Life Scientist Award.

Scientists who have received their doctorate since 1989 and have served as an independent investigator for no more than 7 years are eligible for nomination. Ray Deshaies of the California Institute of Technology received the first annual Award at the 39th ASCB Annual Meeting. Erin O’Shea from the University of California, San Francisco, received the second award at the 2000 ASCB Annual Meeting.

Candidate packages should include the candidate’s CV, a brief research statement and a nominating letter plus no more than three letters of support, at least one of which must come from outside the candidate’s current institution. The primary nominator must be a member of the ASCB but the candidate and support letter authors need not be.

Nominating packages must be received in the ASCB office no later than February 28, 2001. The winner will speak at the 41st ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington in December, 2001, and will receive a monetary prize.

 


Classifieds
  01/01/2001

Research Assistant Professor. The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dept. of Cell Biology, is seeking applicants for a non-tenure earning faculty position. The applicant must have a Ph.D. or equivalent and a minimum of two years postdoctoral experience, as well as a minimum of six years of administrative experience in a basic science department. The position is intended to include both scientific and administrative responsibilities. The position reports to the Associate Dean for Biomedical Research in the School of Medicine and has administrative responsibilities that include planning and management of research space and resources. In addition, the applicant will join a group working on calcium and intracellular calcium and mammalian cell culture. Interested candidates should send a CV and names, addresses, and phone number of three references to: Dr. Richard B. Marchase, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dept. of Cell Biology, MCLM 690, 1530 3rd Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35294-0005. We are an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer.

PostDoc. Postdoctoral position available to study bioinformatics/genomics, biochemistry, molecular biology & structural biology of vesicle traffic in early secretory pathway. Interested candidates should send CV and 3 reference letters to: Dr. William E. Balch, The Scripps Research Institute, 10500 N. Torrey Pines Rd., IMM11, La Jolla, CA 92037; Fax: (858) 784-9126. The Scripps Research Institute is an equal opportunity employer.

Research-Track Faculty Position in Science Education. The Department of Cell Biology and the Center for Community Outreach Development, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham invites applications for a research track assistant professor in the area of science education and community outreach. We are particularly interested in outstanding individuals who will establish K-12 science outreach programs in partnership with the Birmingham City Schools and the McWane Science Center. The successful applicant will also work closely with scientists, clinicians and educators on existing programs funded through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The minimum requirements for this position: Ph.D. in biological science discipline and extensive experience in K-12 education and demonstrated success in securing extramural funding for science education. Please submit a curriculum vitae, brief summary of research and teaching experience, a two-page proposal on development of K-12 outreach programs and the names and addresses of three references to: Dr. Tika Benveniste Chair, Department of Cell Biology, 1918 University Blvd., MCLM 350-A, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0005. Review of applicants will begin promptly on February 1, 2001. Early applications are encouraged and will be considered promptly. We are an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

 


Grants & Opportunities
  01/01/2001

Grants. The Women’s International Science Collaboration (WISC) Program, funded by the NSF and AAAS, is accepting applications.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Call for Nominations for UK Biochemical Society Awards — Medals and Lectures.

NIGMS Bioengineering Research Partnerships.

NIGMS Publications. NIGMS announces two new publications: The Chemistry of Health and Research and Training Opportunities for Minorities.

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