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ASCB Newsletter - May 2003

Annual Meeting Keynoters to Address Global Vision of Science

Sydney Brenner, 2002 Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Professor at the Salk Institute, and Sergey Brin, Co-Founder and President of Technology at Google, will be featured at the ASCB’s 43rd Annual Meeting Keynote Symposium on “A Vision of the Future for Science.

The Keynote will be on Saturday, December 13 at 6:00 PM in the Moscone Convention Center. A reception for all attendees follows.


The International Federation for Cell Biology: A Status Report

The International Federation for Cell Biology gently operates behind the scenes to help integrate different aspects of cell biology among the member or national societies and other organizations, notably the International Union of Biological Societies. After its last General Assembly, Merton Bernfield took over the reigns of IFCB as Secretary General from Ivan Cameron, who was elected President. Fate was to play a cruel blow when Merton developed Parkinson’s that progressed very fast, and he died in March, 2002. Through the generosity of many people and organizations, the ASCB developed a fund in his memory and the ASCB Merton Bernfield Award is now available each year to help young cell biologists attend ASCB meetings.

I officially took over as Secretary General in May 2002, and have been actively seeking to involve new societies in our organization, extend the Federation’s activities and generally raise the profile of cell biology throughout the world. It has been a most rewarding experience, and excellent progress is being made on many fronts.

The ASCB is the biggest society within the IFCB. Together with Canada, the North American continent gives us excellent support. Our South American partners collectively forming the Ibero-American Cell Biology Organization, however, are much less easy to assess at the present time, and we will need to spend a lot of time helping them during the next five years. Europe’s new face is that of ELSO, our host society for the 8th International Congress of Cell Biology in Nice (France), to be held from September 4-8, 2004. Asia is gaining rapidly in numbers and status. The Korean Society is now a full member of IFCB. With Taiwan also a new member in 2000, we expect to see countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Iran and others coming on board. You will soon find that the Asia-Pacific Organization for Cell Biology has become a major player in IFCB. The individual societies pay their dues to IFCB, and therefore they will be sending more delegates to the General Assembly than any continental sector. The Special Autonomous Regions of China, other than Taiwan, are also approaching the IFCB with regard to membership, and the newly formed Russian Society for Cell Biology will probably become a full member in 2004.

The IFCB website gives information about its programmes, geared largely to helping young cell biologists. To provide better support, IFCB needs to sustain its cash-flow. The lion’s share is generated by IFCB’s official journal, Cell Biology International. This journal has had a chequered career, but latterly it has returned to better shape and continues to do well. We are especially experiencing a steadily increasing flow of good quality papers from China, Russia, the former Russian states, and many other countries.

If you have any comments or suggestions to make concerning IFCB and its role, please contact us through our website.

—Denys Wheatley ASCB Member and Secretary General The International Federation on Cell Biology


Teaching Controversy Theme of Annual Meeting Education Programs

Kenneth Miller of Brown University chaired the April 7 meeting of the ASCB Education Committee in Bethesda. The meeting was also attended by members Robert Bloodgood, Victoria May, Linda Silveira and Elisa Stone; ad hoc Post Doctoral Subcommittee members Adlitya Mittal and Kimberly Paul; Minorities Affairs Committee Liaison Raquell Holmes, and ASCB staffers Dot Doyle, David Driggers, Elizabeth Marincola, Ed Newman and Harry Rothmann.

Committee members selected the teaching of controversy as the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting activities. Members agreed that it is important that students and teachers learn strategies to support or refute claims with evidence. As Stone noted, “students of all ages need work on viewing science as an ever-changing body of ideas, rather than a static collection of facts and right answers.” Miller will chair the Committee’s Workshop on Saturday afternoon, December 13, which will cover teaching about stem cells, cloning, animal research, evolution, and genetically modified foods.

Bloodgood, May and Stone will chair the K-12 Science Education Lunch. 1999 Bruce Alberts Award recipient Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education will talk on “Controversy in the Classroom: Evolution.”

May will organize the ASCB Symposium at the National Association of Biology Teachers meeting in Portland, Oregon in October, to feature ASCB members who will present their research to master teachers and other meeting attendees.

Committee members considered a proposal to the ASCB from the Society for Neuroscience for the ASCB to join with the SFN to develop resource materials for teachers on the nature and value of, and need for, animal research. The Committee agreed enthusiastically to work with SFN on the project.

Kim Paul noted publication of the first “Postdoc Matters” column in the April issue of the ASCB Newsletter. Column editors Lisa Cameron and Søren Andersen plan quarterly articles on postdoc issues and hope to recruit authors from Society membership.


  Sweden to Publish International Open Access Directory

In collaboration with the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Sweden’s Lund University Libraries will publish a Directory of Open Access Journals this year.

The organizers will also work with the eIFL (“Electronic Information for Libraries”) Network, which represents a consortium of developing-country libraries, to ensure that the Directory is accessible to its 3,000 participating libraries.

Cell Biology Education, published by the ASCB, makes its content freely available immediately upon publication. Molecular Biology of the Cell’s content is made freely available to ASCB members immediately, and to the general public after a two-month delay. Both journals participate in PubMed Central, which provides public access to online journals.


Letters To The Editor

Scientific Publishing

To the Editor:

With greatest interest I have followed the recent articles in the ASCB Newsletter on scientific publishing by Gary Ward and our Society President (February, 2003), and the reactions these articles provoked (March, 2003). I find myself in full agreement with the facts stated therein and the suggestions for consequences, such as resigning from editorial services of journals that do not comply with open access policies (chapeau, Vivian Siegel!). So, I decided to take a stance and do what I can do as a humble member of the scientific community. In this context, the following e-mail exchange with a leading cell biology journal may be of interest:

Request: [The editor] believes you would make an excellent referee for manuscript number 0000 by XXXX and colleagues. I am including the title page and summary with this email for your consideration.

Answer: Even though I am very interested in the subject of this paper, I have decided [to] not review it for XXXX unless [the publisher] changes its policy and makes papers freely available six months after publication. I realize my personal decision may be equivalent to stinging a dinosaur with a pin, but I think if enough of us do it, it may eventually be felt....

Reply: I received your note about not reviewing the XXXX paper. As you might imagine, I regret that you are not able to do it, but I respect your decision and your position. I will put a note on our database to that effect so we do not send you requests in the future unless the policy changes. You are right in thinking that we don’t encounter this situation very often — in fact, to my knowledge you are only the second person who has declined to review for us on these grounds since the whole initiative began.

“...only the second person...”?? This is a pretty sobering piece of information. If even little steps such as this aren’t taken by us scientists, how can we expect a bold step such as the resignation of an entire editorial board to ever happen? Naturally, I am a lot less optimistic now that the practice of scientific publishing is going to improve at all.

Manfred Schliwa ASCB Member

Manfred Schliwa is to be congratulated for standing firm in support of his convictions. My own view is that national science funding agencies such as the NIH and NSF should insist that any research they support be published in journals that provide their content online without charge, within six months of publication. These funding agencies pay for the research—why should they pay again for subscriptions?

Ensuring open access to already funded research findings is fundamental to the missions of NIH, NSF and other funding agencies. Although this approach may sound radical to some, I believe it would have strong support in the U.S. Congress and importantly, amongst scientists worldwide.

Suzanne Pfeffer ASCB President


Two Foreign Associates Among Nine ASCB Members Elected to National Academy of Sciences

The following ASCB members were among the 72 scientists from across all disciplines who were elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences at its Annual Meeting last month.

  • Cornelia Bargmann HHMI/University of California, San Francisco
  • David Derosier Brandeis University
  • Stephen Elledge HHMI/Baylor College
  • Carol Greider Johns Hopkins University
  • Avram Hershko Technion Israel Institute of Technology
  • Arthur Horwich HHMI/Yale University
  • Robert Lamb HHMI/Northwestern University
  • Martin Raff University College London
  • Arthur Weiss HHMI/University of California, San Francisco



The ASCB is grateful to the following members who have recently given gifts to support Society activities:

Ruth Kleinfeld
Ellen LeMosy
Allison Marciszyn
Onodera Mitsue
Leanna Topper
Barbara Vertel
Robin Wright


Members In The News

Scott Emr of the University of California, San Diego, an ASCB member since 1988, received the 2003 Hansen Foundation Gold Medal for elucidating the intracellular transport of proteins and the targeting of vesicles in yeast.

Elaine Fuchs of the Rockefeller University, 2001 Society President and an ASCB member since 1980, receives an honorary doctorate from Mount Sinai School of Medicine at its convocation this month. Fuchs was also honored as an outstanding woman scientist by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Mary J.C. Hendrix of The University of Iowa, an ASCB member since 1978, has been appointed to the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. She joins ASCB members David Burgess and Richard Lifton.

Ralph Steinman of the Rockefeller University, an ASCB member since 1974, is one of four winners of the 2003 Gairdner International Award. He is being recognized for work with fundamental immune responses.

Bert Vogelstein of the Johns Hopkins University, an ASCB member since 1991, received the 2002 American Association of Pathologists Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics.


Grants & Opportunities

2003 Cooperative Grants Program. The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), invites teams of U.S. and former Soviet Union (FSU) scientists and engineers to apply for oneto two-year grants. One application may be submitted every twelve months.

Stem Cell Research. NICHD Administrative Supplements for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Deadlines are July 1, 2003 and July 1, 2004.


What’s Your Idea to Combat Global Disease?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $200 million to establish the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

The Scientific Board seeks recommendations to identify the most compelling scientific challenges in global health at the current time. The solutions to such challenges should lead to important advances against diseases of the developing world.

For a definition of Grand Challenges, more information about this Call for Ideas, and instructions for submitting recommendations.

Harold E. Varmus, M.D.
Chairman Scientific Board Grand Challenges in Global Health


Classified Advertising

Post-doc Fellows, Harvard Medical School. Job Description: Two NIH funded positions in the Departments of Cell Biology and Neurobiology at the Harvard Medical School. Projects are focused on understanding the biological functions of gap junctional intercellular communication in the growth and homeostasis of the ocular lens1 in the biogenesis and maintenance of myelin2 and in vascular biology3. Approaches include the development and analysis of mouse cell lines with targeted deletions of members of the connexin family of gap junctional structural proteins, with concomitant analysis of the knockout mice. Applicants should have a Ph.D. with a strong background in cellular and molecular biology. Send CV and reference contact information (phone and email) to: Daniel A. Goodenough, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

  1. White,T.W. Unique and redundant connexin contributions to lens development. Science 295, 319-320 (2002).
  2. Altevogt,B.M., Kleopa,K.A., Postma,F.R., Scherer,S.S. & Paul,D.L. Connexin29 is uniquely distributed within myelinating glial cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems. J. Neurosci. 22, 6458-6470 (2002).
  3. Simon,A.M. & McWhorter, A.R. Vascular Abnormalities in Mice Lacking the Endothelial Gap Junction Proteins connexin37 and connexin40. Dev. Biol. 251, 206-220 (2002).

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