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ASCB Newsletter - September 1997

International Cell Biology Congress Slated for Australia

The International Federation for Cell Biology has announced its acceptance of the bid of the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell & Developmental Biology to host the 7th International Congress on Cell Biology, in association with the 11th International Society for Differentiation Meeting, in September, 2000. The Congress, scheduled to start immediately following the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, will be held in Brisbane, Queensland, on Australia's "Gold Coast".


President and Congress Finalize Budget Deal

After months of negotiation between the Clinton Administration and Congressional leaders, the two sides finalized the tax and entitlement portions of the budget deal before leaving for August recess. Both the House and the Senate passed the balanced budget plan by wide margins. The deal will balance the budget by 2002, cut taxes by $92 billion, and reduce Medicare spending by $115 billion over five years, compromises made somewhat more palatable by the strong economy. In fact, many economic analysts now say the economy will by itself result in a balanced budget.

The budget compromise was forged following a bruising week for Congressional Republicans in which House leadership contemplated a possible coup which would have ousted Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA). This led to the resignation of one member of the leadership team, Congressman Bill Paxon (R-NY), and a great deal of speculation on the cause of current Republican weaknesses. It was partly due to this controversy that the House felt it was forced to compromise with the Administration on the budget deal. While the White House and Congressional leaders were both very pleased to have reached this compromise, a small group of liberal Democrats in Congress, including House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) voted against the package saying that it did not go far enough to help lower and middle class Americans.

The final balanced budget deal includes several provisions, most of which will be phased in over many years:

  • a 15-cent per-pack tax on cigarettes to pay for a $24 billion health coverage package for low-income children;
  • $9 billion in education tax credits;
  • a cut in the Capital gains tax from the current 28% to 20%;
  • a raise in the exemption for estate tax from $600,000 to $1 million;
  • $115 billion in reduced Medicare payments to hospitals, doctors, and other providers and a gradual increase in premiums;
  • $13 billion in reduced Medicaid payments to hospitals, and
  • a $500 per child tax credit.

TA/RA Tuition Waivers and TIAA-CREF
The final tax bill did not contain the controversial proposal to revoke the tax exemption for tuition waivers for graduate research and teaching fellows. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee who had introduced this provision in their original bill conceded the point, noting that graduate students were not the intended target of the provision. The Committee had heard from thousands of graduate students and faculty on this issue; indeed it was the campus-based student associations who initially called attention to the threat.

The final tax deal did revoke the tax-exempt status of the retirement trust fund of TIAA-CREF. Thousands of people associated with research and education have their retirement funds invested with TIAA-CREF.

House and Senate Poised to Increase NIH Appropriation
Despite hopes that the House and Senate would vote on the Labor, Health Human Services and Education FY '98 Appropriations bills before leaving in August, the votes were postponed until the first week in September. These bills include funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Twenty Representatives have so far co-sponored H. Res 83,introduced by Rep. George Gekas, which calls for the doubling of NIH budget in five years. They are:

Brian Bilray (R-CA)
Peter Defazio (D-OR)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Barney Frank (D-MA)
Martin Frost (D-TX)
George Gekas (R-PA)
Ben Gilman (R-NY)
Henry Gonzales (D-TX)
Porter Goss (R-FL)
Earl Hilliard (D-AL)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Jim Leach (R-IA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Patsy Mink (D-HI)
Jerold Nadler (D-NY)
John Porter (R-IL)
Clay Shaw (R-FL)
Louise Slaugher (D-NY)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL)

The House version of the L-HHS bill that was marked up by its Appropriations Committee includes a 6%, or $764 million, increase in the FY'98 NIH appropriation over the current year (FY '97). The Senate Appropriations Committee reported a bill that included a 7.5%, or $952 million, increase over FY '97 funding. Due to the traditionally controversial nature of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill (because of abortion issues), this will be the first time in two years that the full Senate has passed this appropriations bill. The Senate was able to move the bill through the process this year in part because of the overall budget deal reached between the Administration and Congress, which provided for a bipartisan approach to the appropriations process. He was also aided by increased federal revenues from the booming economy, which facilitated appropriations in both houses.

The Labor-HHS bills were held up and not voted on prior to recess because of some controversial amendments that House members planned to offer on the floor. During the House full committee markup, Congressman Ernest Istook (R-OK) offered an amendment requiring parental consent for minors to receive family planning services, which would have doomed the bill. Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairman John Porter (R-IL) offered a compromise amendment requiring clinics to encourage family participation when minors are faced with the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. This compromise satisfied both parties and kept the bill on track for a vote on the House floor. Congressman Istook will likely offer his amendment again when the bill comes to the House floor in September. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) had planned to offer an amendment to prohibit federal funds for abortion services in managed care plans. Before leaving on recess, Rep. Hyde and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) reached a compromise on language clarifying the restrictions on federally financed abortions, averting a veto by the President. Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a conservative in the House, has threatened to offer 100 amendments to the bill. These amendments would not impact the NIH directly, but if offered could keep the bill from passing. Another controversy that was averted surrounded education funding. Although neither the House nor Senate Appropriations committees offered as much funding for education as was requested, both houses ultimately provided large enough increases to these programs to satisfy the Administration.

NSF Appropriations Passes Both Houses
The House and Senate each passed their version of the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies appropriations bills, which include funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The House version of the bill, HR2158, included an increase of 6.6%, or $217 million, over the FY '97 level. The Senate version of the bill, S1034, provides for a 3.3%, or $107 million, increase in the NSF budget. The House version of the bill would provide $2,537,700 for the NSF research account while the Senate version would provide $2,524,700 for the same account.

The main difference in the two NSF funding bills is that the House bill would fully fund the repair and renovation of the Antarctic Research Station while the Senate bill would only partially fund it. Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chair of the House Science Committee, included the funding for the Antarctic Research Station after he had visited the facility earlier in the year with NSF Director Neal Lane. The two houses will meet to conference the two versions of the bill following the August recess and are likely to compromise between the recommended funding levels for a total NSF appropriation between $3.377 billion and $3.487 billion.

NSF Authorization
On July 23, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee marked up the 1998-99 NSF Authorization Act. An authorization bill creates a program and outlines its funding level for two years. Similar to the House version of the bill which passed earlier in the year, the Senate version authorizes $3.5 billion, or a 7.2% increase, for the NSF budget in FY '98. Given the similarity of the two bills, it is likely that the Congress will pass a final version of the NSF reauthorization bill which would then be signed into law by the President.

NASA and VA Appropriations
The FY '98 appropriation for NASA is included in the VA-HUD and Independent agencies bill. The House version of the bill would cut NASA 's funding by $61 million from FY '97 for a total appropriation of $13.6 billion. The Senate version would cut the appropriation even further for a total appropriation of $13.5 billion. Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AK) tried unsuccessfully to kill the space station program.The Clinton Administration had requested a budget reduction of $209 million, to fund the agency at $13.5 billion.

Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs received increases over FY '97 in both the House and Senate appropriations bills. The House would increase VA research funding by $30 million for a total appropriation of $292 million, while the Senate bill would increase the VA research appropriation to $267 million. The Clinton Administration had proposed a cut of $33 million from VA research in its budget proposal to Congress, but both the House and the Senate appropriations bills would restore this funding plus at least $5 million. The House bill contains earmarked funds for Persian Gulf Syndrome research which would come from funds for the AmeriCorps program. The House and Senate will now conference the two versions of the bill. The President has said he will veto the bill if it takes funds from the AmeriCorps program.

Alternative Medicine
During the markup of the House Labor Health and Human Service Appropriations bill, prominent scientists urged Subcommittee Chairman John Porter (R-IL) to reduce or eliminate funding for the Office of Alternative Medicine of the NIH. Paul Berg, Director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford and Chair of the ASCB Public Policy Committee, wrote, "the NIH 's Office of Alternative Medicine has long been an embarrassment to serious scientists," and called funding the OAM "a luxury we can ill afford, especially when there are so many promising leads and opportunities for research to mine." Former ASCB President Ursula Goodenough of Washington University criticized the OAM for its lack of clinical trials and evaluation of alternative research that would not meet a "scientific test." Maxine Singer, President of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and a member of ASCB Public Policy Committee said, "I urge that the budget for the Office of Alternative Medicine be markedly diminished or even eliminated."

The NIH Office of Alternative Medicine enjoys significant support in the Senate, which increased OAM funding by $1 million in the FY '98 NIH appropriations bill. The bill also included "report language" favorable to the OAM, "encouraging the Authorizing Committee to give consideration to enhancing the Office 's authority during the reauthorization process for the National Institutes of Health."

The National Institutes of Health Appropriations
Markup by Institute or Center
Figures in millions. May not add due to rounding
NIH Institute or Program FY97 Budget FY98 Budget Request FY98 HouseMarkup FY98 Senate Markup
NCI $2,389.1 $2,441.7 $2,513.0 $2,558.4
NHLBI $1,431.8 $1,467.2 $1,513.0 $1,531.9
NIDR $197.1 $202.8 $209.4 $211.6
NIDDK $813.1 $833.8 $874.3 $883.3
NINDS $729.3 $747.8 $763.3 $781.4
NIAID $1,257.8 $1,312.5 $1,339.5 $1,359.7
NIGMS $995.5 $1,020.2 $1,048.1 $1,058.9
NICHD $631.6 $647.3 $666.7 $676.9
NEI $331.6 $340.4 $354.0 $357.7
NIEHS $307.6 $319.9 $328.6 $332.0
NIA $484.3 $497.1 $509.8 $520.7
NIAMS $256.2 $263.2 $269.2 $272.6
NIDCD $188.3 $194.2 $198.4 $200.4
NIMH $700.7 $728.2 $744.2 $753.3
NIDA $490.1 $521.9 $525.6 $531.8
NIAAA $211.3 $219.3 $226.2 $228.6
NINR $59.6 $61.1 $62.5 $64.0
NCRR $414.0 $410.9 $437.1 $455.8
NHGRI $189.1 $205.2 $211.8 $218.9
Fogarty Intl Center $26.5 $27.2 $27.6 $28.5
National Lib of Med. $150.4 $156.1 $161.2 $162.8
Office of the Dir $286.1 $270.2 $298.3 $292.2
Buildings / Fac $200.0 $90.0 $223.1 $211.5
Total $12,740.0 $13,078.2 $13,505.3 $13,692.8

The House and Senate will vote on these appropriations bills in early September and then meet in Conference to compromise on the difference between their marks. Final appropriations are rarely less than the lower mark or more than the higher mark.

Cloning Bill Marked Up
The House Science Committee marked up a substitute to HR922, the Human Cloning Research Prohibition Act, which would ban cloning of human beings. Congressman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) drafted the original bill in response to the publication of the recent Scottish research team that successfully cloned the sheep "Dolly." Congressman Ehlers ' own substitute bill was an improvement over his original bill; the substitute to HR922 was far less restrictive than the original bill and more narrowly prohibits federal funding for human cloning research in connection with an embryo. Federal funds are already prohibited for embryo research. The Ehlers ' substitute bill was amended by Congresswoman Lynn Rivers (D-MI) at the Committee markup to protect current research activities not involved with cloning of human beings. There has been concern that the Ehlers bill might inadvertently restrict current research having nothing to do with the cloning of humans. As HR922 has moved through the legislative process, the ASCB and the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy have advised and made recommendations for changes to Congressman Ehlers and others through direct meetings with him and his staff. A recent Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus on The Future of Cloning was attended by Congressman Ehlers. These efforts have contributed to the formulation of a final bill which contains language that would protect biomedical research including, "nothing in this Act shall restrict other areas of biomedical and agricultural research, including important and promising work that involves the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer or other cloning technologies to clone molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryo cells, or tissues or the use of somatic nuclear transfer techniques to create animals". Although the Science Committee reported the Ehlers ' bill as amended, it must also be considered by the Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction before the bill goes to the floor. The bill faces an uphill battle.

President Clinton has offered his own legislation based on the National Bioethics Advisory Commission 's (NBAC) report on cloning, which also called for a ban on human cloning, but that bill has not yet been acted upon.

Congressional Biomedical Research Center Caucus
Corey Goodman of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Susan McConnell of Stanford University presented Building the Brain to another overflow crowd at the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus briefing on July 16.


Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus
Corey Goodman of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Susan McConnell of Stanford University presented Building the Brainto another overflow crowd at the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus briefing on July 16.


Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Caucus, with Joint Steering Committee congressional education Liason Peter Kyros, Susan McConnell, and Corey Goodman.

Susan McConnell discussing brain development



Positions Available
Excellent opportunities for innovative and creative scientists as Research Associate/ Postdoctoral Fellows are available in molecular and cell biology of intestinal brush border membrane proteins in health and disease. Lab interests include protein processing, transport and sorting, cell differentiation and apoptosis. The Research Associate position offers opportunity for advancement as an independent investigator. For all positions theoretical and practical experience in a major area of molecular and cell biology is required. we offer excellent lab facilities, stimulating research environment and attractive salary. Outstanding possibilities for active collaboration with several academic institutions are available in the beautiful Hannover area in the North of Germany. Contact: Hassan Y. Naim, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Physiological Chemistry, Hannover School of Veterinary Medicine, Bunteweg 17, 30559 Hannover, Germany. Tel.: + 49 511 953 8780. Fax: + 49 511 953 8585. Email

Postdoctoral position is available immediately to study the regulation of axonemal motion in Chlamydomonas. The project involves two approaches: classical and molecular genetic analysis of mutants defective in regulation, and biochemical analysis of nucleotide binding sites on dynein ATPases. A brief description of current research in the laboratory may be found online Send letter of application, cv, and list of at least three references with phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses to: C. Omoto , Fax: (509) 335-1907 EOE/AA

Two postdoctoral positions for ongoing projects: (i) The role of biochemical modifications in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; (ii) The function of different isoforms of high molecular weight microtubule associated protein in CNS development. Background in signal transduction, molecular biology and cytoskeletal proteins are desirable. Applicants should send curriculum vitae to: Shu-Hui Yen, Ph.D. and Bridget Shafit Zagardo, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx NY 10461. Fax: (718) 430-8541; Email EOE/AA.

Postdoctoral Malaria Research Position: An NIH-funded position is available to study the molecular mechanisms of gametogenesis and fertilization in the parasite that causes the most virulent form of human malaria, P. falciparum. Applicants should have a good background in cell &/or devel. biology. No experience in parasitology is required. Please send CV and names/addresses of 3 references to: Kim Williamson, PhD, Department of Biology, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago IL 60626. EOE/AA.

Research assistant (field of cell biology) to study the role of actin and myosin in cell motility. Lab of Dr. Louise Cramer. Good honors degree required. Exper.w/ some/all advantageous: protein purification, enzyme and in vitro motility assays, fluorescence cytology, video microscopy, tissue culture. Starting salary £15,159 - 16,927 plus £2,134 London allowance pa (for up to 2 yrs in first instance, renewal poss for further 2 yrs). For informal enquiries/further details, Email or fax +44 171 465 9078. Send applications (CV and names, addresses and e-mails of two referees) to J. Litvin, The Randall Institute, King’s College London, 26-29 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5RL, UK to arrive by 16 October 1997. EOE.

Postdoctoral Position available immediately: Cellular or Developmental Neurobiologist: Study synaptic function, development /remodeling with emphasis on role of Schwann cells at neuromuscular junctions. Strong background in synaptic transmission and/or developmental neurobiology required. Experience in immunocytochemistry, antibody production, protein purification, molecular cloning, video microscopy, electron microscopy or electrophysiology preferred. Send curriculum vitae, names of three references to Dr. Chien-Ping Ko, Neurobiology Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles CA 90089-2520. EOE/AA.

Equipment Available
MILITARY RESEARCH LAB IS CLOSING—Military contractor is selling at drastically reduced prices its PERKIN ELMER PDS MICRODENSITOMETER, Joyce Loebl microdensitometer, Sorvall ultramicrotomes, Reichert Polycut S motorized sliding microtome, refrigerated and rotary microtomes, LKB knife cutter, AO knife sharpener, Gatan dual ion mill and stereo microscopes. For spec sheets, call (202) 544-0836.


1997 ASCB Corporate Members

The ASCB is grateful to its 1997 Corporate Members:
Silver Corporate Members
Olympus America, Inc.
Seikagaku America Inc.
StressGen Biotechnologies Corporation

Bronze Corporate Members
Affymax Research Corporation
Chroma Technology Corporation
Corning Costar Corporation
Merck Research Laboratories
NaviCyte, Inc.
Nikon, Inc.
Schering-Plough Research Institute
World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd
Carl Zeiss, Inc., Microscope Division


Grants & Opportunities

Do You Need a Postdoc, a Research Associate or Senior Colleague?

Look to the ASCB first to fill a vacancy by placing your recruitment advertisement in the monthly ASCB Newsletter.

  • Low Rates: $7.50/line, 10-line minimum
  • High Readership: 10,000 research scientists
  • Precise Target: Experienced and qualified membership
  • Convenient Deadline: First of month preceding month of issue Contact: Rick Sommer
    Phone (301) 530-7153
    Fax (301) 530-7139

NIH Pratt Postdoc
The Pharmacology Research Associate (PRAT) Program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) sponsors postdoctoral fellows conducting research at the NIH in the pharmacological sciences. This can include research on the areas of signal transduction, drug metabolism, immunopharmacology, chemistry and drug design, structural biology, endocrinology, neuroscience and clinical pharmacology. Applications are due on or before January 2, 1998 for fellowships starting in October of that year. Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible. Contact (301) 594-3583, Email

Chateaubriand Fellowship Science and Technology Program
If you are currently working towards your Ph.D. in science or engineering, including biomedical and agricultural sciences, or if you have completed it in the last three years, you may qualify for a fellowship from the French Government to conduct research in France. Some of the fellowships are co-sponsored by French companies.

The research would be performed in a French university, a school of engineering or in a public or private laboratory. Candidates must be accepted by a French laboratory in order to be eligible for this fellowship program.

You may use existing contacts between your laboratory and a French research institution. If you do not have such contacts, you may register on the Web. In this case, your file will be submitted to directors of various laboratories in France who will be able to contact you directly.

Starting in September 1998, fellowships are available for a 6 to 12 month period, with a monthly stipend of $1800 for a doctoral fellow and $2200 for a post-doctoral fellow. Health insurance and a round trip ticket are also provided.

Only completed applications received before December 1, 1997 will be accepted. Applicants must be US citizens and registered in a university in the US or in a US National Laboratory. Contact The Embassy of France Office for Science and Technology Chateaubriand Fellowship 4101 Reservoir Road, NW Washington, DC 20007-2176 Tel: (202) 944 6261 Fax: (202) 944 6244 E-mail.


Kids and Careers

For years, many women scientists felt that they had to make a choice between having children and advancing in their careers. This was the belief of many of my peers who completed their graduate education only 10 to 15 years ago. But as the number of women in traditionally male-dominated professions has increased, the number of women who successfully combine having families and careers has increased.

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

Douglas Hanahan
Maria E. Silva Fernandes

Nevertheless, having children may still seriously impact a woman’s career. This is especially true for a woman scientist because prime childbearing years come at a time when it is important to be especially productive. There is no getting around the biology of childbearing, but, unfortunately, too often more of the burden of child care falls on the female partner as well. Even if care and responsibility for the child is equally divided between partners, the outside world generally perceives the woman as the primary caregiver. This is evidenced by the fact that for men, in general, having children is not viewed as a negative factor in career progression. This is not the case for women with children who may even be deemed by some as "not serious" about their careers. If women with children are not taken seriously, this will most likely impede their career advancement and recognition. It could mean fewer invitations to speak at meetings, to give seminars, to participate in grant review panels. It can also lead to (unconscious or conscious) bias in the review process for grants and fellowships or for tenure.

Clearly, many women scientists with children have become prominent leaders in their fields, so being relegated to the category of "not serious" is neither automatic nor universal. However, despite the success stories, many women report that colleagues and department chairs take this view, at least initially. For example, one colleague described an experience with a department head who clearly thought she was finished as a scientist when her baby was born. He was astonished when, soon after the birth of her baby, she got a paper accepted and her NIH grant renewed.

This article focuses on factors which may influence whether one is taken seriously after having children. It is based on the personal experiences of friends and acquaintances who are professional women with children. They shared their thoughts and advice about things that have made a difference for their successful combination of career and children.

First, before you have children, be honest about what you want and the consequences of the decision you are making. There are trade-offs inherent in having children. It is important to understand what you are giving up and what you are gaining. Be aware that time will become your most precious commodity. As one of my senior colleagues said, "the key to ‘having it all’ is in your definition of ‘it.’"

For many successful women, the key to success is a spouse who equally shares parenting responsibilities and who not only supports one’s career but rejoices in it. Equal weight should be given to each partner’s career demands. Conflicts between children’s needs and parents’ work schedules are less frequent when the burdens and joys of late nights, doctors’ appointments, and parent-teacher conferences, as well as visits to the zoo and playground, are shared.

Another important factor is good child care. You must feel comfortable with child care arrangements so that you do not have to worry about your children while you work, and, thus, can concentrate (more) fully. This may mean paying more for child care, but this is not the area on which to skimp. Since the time demands of scientific research are not always 9-to-5 (or even 8-to-6), having some flexibility built into a child care situation or good baby-sitting options makes "crunch times" possible to handle. It also allows one to have some flexible time to be used for the things that tend to slip when you are on a tight schedule. One of the things that people with kids (men and women alike) miss are those informal evening or late-night discussions in which scientific ideas get discussed and criticized. Finding a way to occasionally forget the clock can really be a boost to excitement and productivity.

Many women express the opinion that if businesses and universities are truly interested in having more women in senior level jobs, there must be more recognition of the need for affordable, on-site child care. In particular, having good employer-provided child care makes caring for very young babies much easier.

Especially if you do not have on-site day care, you may consider bringing your baby to work. However, some colleagues may believe this practice is inappropriate. Again, the issue may boil down to whether you are able to get the work done. If having a baby at work makes it difficult for you to do your job efficiently, then it certainly might influence the opinion of others. Whether it works is dependent on the personality of parent and baby and on career stage. As a new mom, I was able to get back to work almost full time a lot faster because I had my baby with me for part of the day. I found I could get a lot done with her around when she was tiny. However, there is nothing more grating and distracting than a crying baby, so there were days when the only solution was to give up and go home. There is no way that having her with me would have worked out if I had been doing lab work. But since I worked in my office, it worked out well in the early weeks and did not disrupt other people.

The importance of one’s attitude and approach to work must be stressed. If you spend all your time at work talking about your kids, rather than science, then that is what your colleagues will see is most important to you. This is not to say that the subject should be taboo, but when you are at work, focus on that. Just be sure that your interest and excitement about science is apparent to those around you. Also, learn to be efficient. Do not let the children become an excuse for not doing your share or shirking responsibilities. It goes almost without saying: work hard! Work extra hours when you can and then do not feel guilty when you have to leave to go to a school function or doctor’s appointment.

A successful balance of career and children is facilitated by a work environment that accepts children as a natural part of one’s life and recognizes that personal fulfillment has an impact on professional progress. My own case is an example. I feel fortunate to be part of a truly unusual department: of a total of about 30 tenured or tenure-track faculty, there are 7 women and all of them have children. In fact, seeing the senior women scientists in my department thrive in both family and professional life influenced my own decision to have a child. When I told my department chair that I was pregnant, she(!) let out of whoop of joy and excitement. I am sure that is not the typical reaction of department chairs to the pregnancy of a faculty member. Her immediate reaction was so positive that any fears I might have had about my colleagues’ negative perceptions were swept away. This is not to say that their are none – but having support, understanding, and encouragement of a large fraction of the department including the chair made it a lot easier to accept the challenges of having a child and a successful career.

I benefitted from having role models in my department, but training environments for most scientists provide few such role models since there are still relatively few women in faculty positions and other high level positions. Working to make sure women are hired and promoted can change this. This means providing support, encouragement, and advice to junior colleagues, postdocs, and students. While there are still a lot of attitudes to change on this issue, women in science need no longer feel they must make a choice between careers and children. It is possible to "have it all."

-Kathryn G. Miller, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Washington University
-Laura Williams, WICB Section Editor


Underrepresentation of Minorities in Science

Over the past two to three years much has been written and discussed concerning the future training of students for careers in the biomedical sciences. The future of the Ph.D. scientist in the U.S. appears to be quite grim, as downsizing in jobs and a reduction in research dollars take hold. Some speculate that we are training too many doctoral students for too few jobs, as well.

Undergraduate Teaching Resource Recommended
The National Science publicationTeaching Undergraduate Science Courses by Gordon E. Uno of the University of Oklahoma Department of Botany and Microbiology is recommended by the ASCB Education Committtee. Order from the author, at (405) 325-6281 or Fax (405) 325-7619. The manual is available for the cost of shipping and handling of $5.00.

While there may be validity to these arguments, there is little debate over the fact that far too few minorities are being trained to assume their roles in academia. In fact, there is grave concern on the part of members of ASCB’s Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) that there will be even fewer minority scientists in the pipeline if we do not remain vigilant.

At the semi-annual meeting of the MAC in Bethesda this past May, a great deal of time was spent addressing this issue. This has been a major concern of the Committee for the couple of years. While it is still too early to tell, one has to suspect that as jobs decrease, minority candidates will find it more difficult to find positions in graduate programs, which translates into fewer postdoctoral trainees and ultimately fewer minority graduates joining the faculty ranks.

A critical factor in all of this is the dramatic increase in the number of doctorate degrees being awarded to non-U.S. citizens. Over the past decade or so, this change has led to an increase of more than 10% over that same period of time, thereby increasing the overall percentage of non-U.S. graduate trainees from one in four to approximately one in three.1 The typical underrepresented U.S. groups—African American, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander and Alaskan Native—are all lagging farther behind as immigration laws are changed or otherwise modified to benefit non-U.S. citizens. A series of articles appearing in a 1995 issue of Science addressed closely and directly the issues surrounding this matter. 2 It is of interest today to see the accuracy of those articles and to watch this scenario play itself out under the watchful eye of individuals such as those on the Minorities Affairs Committee. The MAC is most concerned that the nation may be losing its best and brightest due to benign neglect. As the members of the Minorities Affairs Committee continue to meet and address this matter, it reaches out to similar committees of other scientific societies for both support and answers to this troublesome problem.

We can ill afford to wait and hope that things will get better. All too often we have seen this before. In order to gain the diversity in the scientific community comparable to that in the general population, it is obvious that the Society must double or triple its efforts to identify, mentor, and shepherd the underrepresented constituents among us.

Reports addressing this and related topics vary as to the basic problem and/or solution. As attacks mount on affirmative action, it is not clear just where our responses should lie in terms of a plan of action. The MAC will continue to seek assistance from the membership as it attempts to carry out its charge as an advocate for minority issues. The MAC will continue to assess this troubling trend and to devote its time and effort in order to stem the tide. More will be published in the ASCB Newsletter over the coming months as the Committee formulates its findings. It is the feeling of MAC members that it is never too late to do the right thing.

—Curtis L. Parker, ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee Member, Department of Anatomy/Office of the Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine


-Burgess, D.R. (1997). Are foreign students displacing minorities in biomedical graduate education? J. NIH Research 9, 17-21.
-Careers ‘95: The future of the Ph.D. (1995). Science 270, 123-147.


Multi-Society Minorities Group Focuses on Action

On July 25, the Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) hosted a meeting of representatives from the minority affairs committees of multiple scientific societies. This was a follow-up to the first successful Minorities Action Committee meeting hosted by the ASCB in May 1996.

Representatives from the ASCB, the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (ASNS), the American Society of Plant Physiologists (ASPP), the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the Biophysical Society, the Endocrine Society, FASEB, the National Science Foundation, the Protein Society, Sigma Xi, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the Society for Neuroscience, and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), as well as a representative from the NIH/NIAID Office of Research on Minorities and Women 's Health, met to report on issues identified at the 1996 meeting and to develop a plan of action for 1997-98.

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • J.K. Haynes, Chair of the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee, stated that because the Committee wants to have an impact on the numbers and success of underrepresented minority scientists in this country, it must recognize its potential to 1) act as an authoritative body on documented minority issues; 2) act as a critical mass to attract financial support; 3) exert pressure on public policy, and 4) act as a think tank with the task of enhancing the success of minorities.
  • Bob Watkins of the ASM, chair of the Public Policy Subcommittee, noted a number of areas of concern: 1) the NIH Office of Minority Health Research is under attack from Congress; 2) MARC/MBRS has had a flat budget for the last four cycles; 3) there is presently no society advocacy for MARC/MBRS programs, and 4) Minorities Action Committee members need to become more knowledgeable about the activities of the Ad Hoc Group for Biomedical Research.

Matthew George of the ASBMB reported for the Subcommittee on Workshops to Improve Writing Skills that there are excellent workshops available but that these one- or two-day workshops need to be promoted more aggressively to minority students and mentors.

Julius Jackson of the National Science Foundation gave a penetrating talk on how the Committee might act to increase funding for underrepresented minority scientists and training programs. He argued that historical exclusion by race in the sciences has been unchanged over the last 20 years. Specificity about who is counted as a minority at scientific institutions takes the "game playing" out of the identification of minorities; the term "historically underrepresented minorities" forces institutions to be specific. He also urged that the practice of funding minority researchers only from targeted funds should change; support for minority scientists should come from NSF directorates based on best practices.

  • Discussion at the meeting focused on strategies for increasing the funding of minority scientists and minority scientist training programs. Participants offered a number of suggestions for increasing the funding of minority scientists and training programs, including inclusion of a minority perspective in all units of the NSF and NIH. The subcommittee on Public Policy, chaired by Watkins, was charged with developing an action plan to implement recommendations.
  • Participants agreed on the design of a database network that will link minority scientists and students, thereby enhancing mentoring opportunities, development of collaborative research proposals and an accessable Speakers Bureau, as well as improve awareness of funding and employment opportunities. The discussion included consideration of the amount of information to be collected from each registrant, the need for a designated computer programmer, and the requirement for accuracy and maintenance of database information. Wilson, Watkins, Joyce Hunter Woodford, Muriel Prouty, Clifton Houston, and Amy Chang agreed to work along with other Committee members to write a grant application to the MARC Program to fund the database.


The National Institutes of Health Appropriations

The House and Senate will vote on these appropriations bills in early September and then meet in Conference to compromise on the difference between their marks. Final appropriations are rarely less than the lower mark or more than the higher mark.

Markup by Institute or Center
Figures in millions. May not add due to rounding
Institute 97 Budget 98 Budget Request 98 House Markup 98 Senate Markup
NCI $2,389.1 $2,441.7 $2,513.0 $2,558.4
NHLBI $1,431.8 $1,467.2 $1,513.0 $1,531.9
NIDR $197.1 $202.8 $209.4 $211.6
NIDDK $813.1 $833.8 $874.3 $883.3
NINDS $729.3 $747.8 $763.3 $781.4
NIAID $1,257.8 $1,312.5 $1,339.5 $1,359.7
NIGMS $995.5 $1,020.2 $1,048.1 $1,058.9
NICHD $631.6 $647.3 $666.7 $676.9
NEI $331.6 $340.4 $354.0 $357.7
NIEHS $307.6 $319.9 $328.6 $332.0
NIA $484.3 $497.1 $509.8 $520.7
NIAMS $256.2 $263.2 $269.2 $272.6
NIDCD $188.3 $194.2 $198.4 $200.4
NIMH $700.7 $728.2 $744.2 $753.3
NIDA $490.1 $521.9 $525.6 $531.8
NIAAA $211.3 $219.3 $226.2 $228.6
NINR $59.6 $61.1 $62.5 $64.0
NCRR $414.0 $410.9 $437.1 $455.8
NHGRI $189.1 $205.2 $211.8 $218.9
Fogarty Intl Center $26.5 $27.2 $27.6 $28.5
National Lib of Med. $150.4 $156.1 $161.2 $162.8
Office of the Dir $286.1 $270.2 $298.3 $292.2
Buildings and Fac $200.0 $90.0 $223.1 $211.5
Total $12,740.0 $13,078.2 $13,505.3 $13,692.8


A Commemoration Keith Roberts Porter 1912-1997

The Rockefeller University
Caspary Auditorium
Monday, October 6, 1997
2:00 - 5:30 PM

Opening Remarks
David Luck

The Beginnings at Rockefeller
Phil Siekevitz

Merry Friend
Rollin Hotchkiss, James Murphy

Smiling Mentor
Lee Peachey, Peter Satir

Introduction to his Science
Peter Satir

Microtubules and ER: Current Relationships
Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz

Coated Vesicles & Endocytosis
Mark McNiven

Muscle Contraction: Introduction
Lee Peachey

T-Tubular Depolarization and Ca++ Release by Sarcoplasmic Reticulum
Stephen Baylor

George Palade

No registration required; all are welcome. For more information, call Philip Siekevitz at (212) 327-8119 or Peter Satir at (718) 430-4061.


Do You Need a Postdoc, a Research Associate or Senior Colleague

Look to the ASCB first to fill a vacancy by placing your recruitment advertisement in the monthly ASCB Newsletter.

  • Low Rates: $7.50/line, 10-line minimum
  • High Readership: 10,000 research scientists
  • Precise Target: Experienced and qualified membership
  • Convenient Deadline: First of month preceding month of issue

Contact: Rick Sommer
Phone: (301) 530-7153
Fax: (301) 530-7139


1997 Hot Papers

The 1997 ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. will include a Special Poster Session on Wednesday, December 17, designed for presentation of posters demonstrating exciting results that were not available for the regular abstract deadline in August. Abstracts for the Special Poster Session must be received by the ASCB office on or before October 3. A subgroup of the Program Committee will select abstracts, and authors will be notified by November 15 of the Committee’s decision. Printing deadlinespreventtheseabstractsfromappearingintheMolecular Biology of the Cell Abstracts Issue. They will, however, be listed in the Program Addendum, which is distributed at the Annual Meeting.

Submission of Abstracts for the Special Poster Session
(October 3 deadline)

One abstract-equivalent per member is permitted. A member may sponsor an abstract submitted by another member or by a nonmember, but the sponsoring member may not then submit another paper of his/her own. (An exception to this is made for abstracts submitted for the science education abstract codes. Submitters and sponsors of science education abstracts may also submit or sponsor a scientific abstract.) If two members are co-authors, their paper is an abstract-equivalent for one of them and the other may submit another paper if he/she so desires. A student member may sponsor his/her abstract only. Students may not sponsor another person’s abstract. Sponsors of submitted abstracts should be sure that all authors listed on the abstract have had a significant role in the research being reported. Members of FASEB societies other than the ASCB may sponsor one abstract, providing that the sponsoring FASEB society member is one of the authors.

Each abstract should contain a sentence stating the study’s objective (unless given in the title); a brief statement of methods, if pertinent; a summary of the results obtained; and a statement of the conclusions. It is not satisfactory to say, "the results will be discussed." Use a short, specific title. Capitalize initial letters of trade names. Use standard abbreviations for units of measure. Other abbreviations should be spelled out in full at first mention, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Exceptions: DNA, RNA, etc.

Electronic Submission via E-mail
Submitters who are remitting the Special Poster Session Abstract Submission fee with a credit card may submit their abstract via e-mail. Along with your abstract, provide all information requested on the form on the next page. Electronic abstracts must be fewer than 2,025 keystrokes (including spaces). Please list separately where boldface, italicized, superscript, subscript, or Greek letters are required.


Annual Meeting Sponsors

The ASCB is grateful to sponsors of the 37th ASCB Annual Meeting:

  • Academic Press
  • Bristol-Meyers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund
  • Chroma Technology Corporation
  • Corning Costar Corporation
  • Glaxo Wellcome
  • JEOL USA Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • The Rockefeller University Press/The Journal of Cell Biology
  • Worthington Biochemical Corporation
  • Carl Zeiss Inc., Microscope Division
  • Zeneca Pharmaceuticals


Undergraduate Teaching Resource Recommended

The national Science Foundation–sponsored publication Teaching Undergraduate Science Courses by Gordon E. Uno of the University of Oklahoma Department of Botany and Microbiology is recommended by the ASCBEducation Committee. Order from the author at (405) 325-6281. The manual is available for the cost of shipping and handling of $5.00.

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