One of the pleasures of the AAAS Annual Meeting is walking through walls. Science can be a windowless warren if you stick with what you know so sometimes it pays to step out. At AAAS, you can seek out a symposium on some outlandish topic just to view unknown terrain. Sometimes you glimpse far horizons. Sometimes you are fogged in.
2013 will always be known as the year of sequestration. The inability of Congress to do its job resulted in almost $2 billion in combined cuts to the budgets of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). But there was a bright side to sequestration. The 16-day shutdown of the federal government and the bad press it generated finally forced Congress to do something it had not done in years – pass a budget for the federal government.
It can be flattering or terrifying but it's always important. It's that rare opportunity when a non-scientist is genuinely curious about what you do. It's your chance to talk about the puzzling result that keeps you up at night, the critical piece of data you finally got, or the little pieces of a microscopic mystery that you're working to solve.
The world of slime molds is seething with activity as teams prepare their entries for the upcoming Dicty World Race, set for May 16 in the Massachusetts General Hospital lab of Daniel Irimia. Meantime, Irimia and ASCB member Chris Janetopoulos of Vanderbilt University have raised $3,000 from private sponsors for prize money. Their goal now is to raise the grand prize to $5,000 through crowd funding on RocketHub. The idea that you could win real money racing Dictyostelium discoideum is startling. Imagine cell biology on the sports pages. Give generously.
CHICAGO—The "Triple A-S" meeting is like no other scientific gathering in that it is not really for scientists but for journalists who follow science. Scientists do come to present talks or to serve on AAAS governing sections, but to understand the meeting's central purpose, think of AAAS as the world's largest annual science press conference.
Your cells should go to Washington. Or at least your cell images should go to Washington's Dulles International Airport where ASCB and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) are collaborating on an eye-popping exhibit of cell images in the Gateway Gallery of the United Airlines hub terminal from June through November. The exhibit, to be called Life: Magnified, will feature stunning micrographs of cells, tissues, microorganisms, and molecular landscapes.
Dear fellow bench scientist,
I cannot tell a lie. Dr. Washington is off today. But if you're working hard in the lab, either because your PI or your inner PI (you) requires it, Dr. Washington has a workaround. Sure, your Facebook friends are posting selfies with their President or El Presidente cocktails. But put down the beaker of despair (think of alcohol as just more glassware to wash) and take Dr. Washington's Instant Holiday.
It was either serendipity or the anxiety of an entire generation of graduate students coming to a boil, but last fall something triggered an explosion of science advocacy on the Emory University campus in Atlanta. A grad student "advocacy journal club" has sprung to life with 50 members, ambitious plans for organizing more, and a working alliance with the dean and with Emory's Office of Governmental Affairs.
NIH Director Francis Collins yesterday unveiled an unusual open access alliance of 10 "biopharmaceutical" companies and eight nonprofits to wade through the growing flood of bio data on four diseases—Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes, and the autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus—to identify therapeutic targets and characterize biomarkers. All data and analyses will be publicly shared. The pharma and nonprofit allies will put up $230 million over five years in hopes of making translational sense of the mass of new imaging, "omic" sequencing, and other data on these four diseases with massive impacts on public health. The new alliance is called the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP).
"Why is my bench sticky?" one card asks. If the answers, "Rotation students" or "Because the Bible says so," strike you as particularly funny, then you need to download and print out a new open-source card game called Cards Against Science. It was created by a physicist for scientists including non-physicists (like cell biologists), although with its references to spermatozoa and Drosophila, it wouldn't hurt to know your pipette from your elbow.