The major objectives of the International Affairs Committee are to serve ASCB’s international members and enhance their engagement in the Society, to reach out to international colleagues to promote international scientific exchange, to contribute to building capacity in cell biology worldwide, to transcend the complex political issues facing the world today, and to set an example of how to cooperate productively, sharing ideas, and creatively moving forward.


Special Events at the 2015 ASCB Annual Meeting

The IAC Roundtable

The highly popular program is held at the ASCB Annual Meeting. The goals of the IAC Roundtable are to foster interactions between the U.S. and international attendees and to discuss science and policy issues of special significance for international attendees. Members of the IAC and ASCB Council facilitate discussions over lunch. Participants include international and U.S. graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

The International Research & Training Exchange Fair

The International Research and Training Exchange Fair is held at the ASCB meeting on the first evening during the opening reception. Its goal is to enable attendees to learn about research, training and other opportunities in countries around the world, as well as about IAC activities.

International Funding Sessions

These concurrent sessions highlight cell biology research, education, scientific publication activities, and funding opportunities from international organizations. Sessions are presented Sunday-Tuesday, drawing hundreds of attendees who plan to explore employment opportunities and establish collaborative efforts internationally.

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International Affairs Committee Roundtable

The International Affairs Committee (IAC) Roundtable is held annually on the first day of the ASCB Annual Meeting. Its goals are to:

  • Foster interactions between the U.S. and international attendees
  • Discuss science and policy issues of significance for international attendees

Members of the IAC and ASCB Council facilitate discussions. Participants include international and U.S. students and postdocs. Lunch is provided.

International Research and Training Exchange Fair

Launched in 2010, this fair is held at the ASCB Annual Meeting. Its goal is to enable attendees to learn about research, training, and other opportunities in countries around the world. It will encourage students and postdocs to think about possibilities in foreign countries and help open up exchanges between labs in various countries that could work together through collaboration. Tables are set up displaying information from various region/continents around the world. Representatives are in attendance at each table to answer questions.

iBioSeminars and iBioMagazine

Free, on-demand lectures: Many universities/colleges have limited access to high profile leaders in biological research. iBioSeminars strives to fill this void by providing high quality full-length lectures available via web streaming or download and completely free-of-charge. The companion series, iBioMagazine, is a quarterly video magazine with short talks on the practice of science. The goal is to add 15-20 iBioSeminars per year and about 40 iBioMagazine talks per year.

Targeting a broad audience: iBioSeminars start with an extended introduction, making them accessible to non-specialists and students, and then progress to cover current research. Senior scientists and students can view and enjoy these lectures.

Education: iBioSeminars are being used by undergraduate and graduate teachers to augment their classroom material. An education component is on the website (including lecture notes, questions/answers, and short video clips for teaching).

International communication: iBioSeminars have viewers in 145 countries and are being internally promoted in several countries as an educational tool and scientific resource. A subtitle and translation project is in progress. Twenty-seven iBioMagazine talks are available with English and Spanish subtitles and nineteen iBioSeminars talks have English subtitles. Thanks to a collaboration with the Fundacion Ecoscience Chile, these talks will begin to be available with Spanish subtitles in late 2011.

Goodwill: Lecturers generously donate their time to prepare these lectures. The project, largely funded by NSF and HHMI, is a grassroots effort with time invested by several individuals at UCSF, HHMI, and ASCB.

Ghana Workshops supported by the World Bank

Members of ASCB and the International Affairs Committee (IAC) will be working with the University of Ghana for the Annual Cell Biology workshop which takes place in June/July. Additionally, they will be introducing new graduate programs, including MPhil and PhD in Cell Biology of Infectious Diseases. IAC members will also teach some modules for these new graduate programs and mentor students.

African Workshops supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York

ASCB has been fortunate to obtain a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York that has supported courses on cell biology in East and West Africa. As of now, six courses have been given and one more is planned. Courses have taken place in Tanzania and Ghana, where members of the Society and colleagues have partnered with African universities to provide two weeks of intensive instruction in aspects of cell biology for about 25 young African scientists each course. The first two courses were focused on protozoan pathogens: Plasmodium that causes malaria and Trypanosoma that causes sleeping sickness. The next two were more general courses in cell biology, taught at medical schools in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Accra, Ghana. Here the emphasis was on a combination of information about modern cell biology, the methods used to obtain that information, plus ways to teach this material effectively to African students. The fifth course was back at Morogoro in Tanzania and focused on “one health,” a key idea in African health work, where animal and human medicines are treated as one and as joint motivators for basic and clinical research. The sixth was in Kumasi, Ghana, and focused on both malaria and cancer. The goal of all these courses has been to help Africans who are currently young instructors teach their own students about modern cell biology, using web-based resources and other material that can help to enrich whatever textbook material is available. The course faculties have also worked to develop teaching lab exercises that are informative, interesting, and inexpensive, so students from the ASCB course can use similar material in their own teaching.

Textbook Donation

In 2008, IAC began collecting superseded textbooks and shipping them to universities in Egypt with the help of the US Embassy in Cairo. The project has evolved to distributing hundreds of texts to 13 additional African countries, with the help of our Embassies in those countries. Publishers have donated textbooks that are shipped to countries in need and distributed to the universities.

ASCB International Newsletter Columns

Since January 2007, IAC members and colleagues have written monthly articles of interest to scientists around the world. These cover both cell biology in different nations, and initiatives to expand cell biology capacity in the developing world and to use cell biology to address important global problems. Some articles include Cell Biology under the Puerto Rican Sun, Bridging the Gap: Cell Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa, Cell Biology in Argentina, and Cell Biology in Israel. We continue to solicit new columns and welcome your suggestions.

Initiatives in India, Turkey and South America

IAC has arranged for funding from India to allow ASCB members the opportunity to travel there and participate in co-teaching and other opportunities. Plans for events in Turkey and South America are proceeding well. We are also considering a new initiative in Sudan, at the University of Khartoum.

International Meetings

IAC has helped cosponsor two successful international meetings, with international partners, each focused on an exciting topic in cell biology:

  • 2014 APOCB congress — 7th Asia-Pacific Organization for Cell Biology Congress (Singapore)
  • 2014 Joint Meeting with IFCB in Philadelphia
  • 2007 Joint ASCB-European Cytoskeleton Forum Summer Meeting on “Dynamic Interplay Between Cytoskeletal and Membrane Systems” (France)
  • 2009 Joint ASCB-RIKEN CDB-Japanese Society for Cell Biology Summer

Meeting on “Building the Body: How Cell Adhesion, Signaling, and Cytoskeletal Regulation Shape Morphogenesis” (Japan)

We have also developed criteria for future international cosponsored meetings, which balance the need to be fiscally conservative by emphasizing the possibility of working with partners with significant financial resources.

IAC Associates

In 2012, ASCB issued a call for interested members who wanted to get more involved globally by helping with IAC’s programs, promoting international scientific exchange, and contributing to building capacity in cell biology worldwide. To fulfill this mission, IAC sought volunteers to help with the:

  • IAC Website
  • IAC Roundtable
  • IAC Newsletter Column
  • IAC Network Email

IAC Goals

(1) new international activities (e.g., Visa policy advocacy), (2) forging concrete links with other ASCB committees on international topics (e.g., Visa policy, international women’s issues, education), (3) partnering with other societies to expand our international activities (e.g., International Human Rights Network).

See reports from participating countries at the 2014 Exchange Fair here.

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