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ASCB Newsletter - July 1998


Postdoctoral Position available to study the genetics and biochemistry of peroxisomal protein import, peroxisome biogenesis or per-oxisome turnover by autophagy. Qualified candidates should possess either a PhD and/or MD. A strong background in cell biol-ogy and/or yeast genetics is desirable. Recent reviews: Rachubinski, R., Subramani, S., How proteins penetrate peroxisomes. Cell, 83: 525-528 (1995); Subramani, S. PEX genes on the rise. Nature Genetics, 15: 331-333 (1997); Subramani, S., Components involved in peroxisome import, biogenesis, proliferation, turnover and movement, Physiol. Rev. 78:171-188 (1998). Please send CV, a description of research experience and names of three references to Suresh Subramani, Professor, Dept of Biology, Room 3230 Bonner Hall, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla CA 92093-0322. Phone (619) 534-2327; Fax (619) 534-0053; Email EOE/AA.

Smooth Muscle Biologists Call for Proposals
The LAM Foundation is offering up to five post- doctoral fellowships for the study of the cellular and molecular basis of the abnormal smooth muscle proliferation that occurs in the disease, Lymphangiomyomatosis (LAM). The LAM Post Doctoral Fellowship Awards provide a maximum of $35,000 per year, renewable for up to two additional years. Pilot project awards of up to $35,000 are also available for the initiation of innovative research projects. Candidates must have at least two years of experience, an MD, PhD, or equivalent degree, and perform the work in a laboratory with established expertise in smooth muscle biology. Competitive proposals include those which focus on the development of a smooth muscle cell line that is representative of the LAM lesion or the genetic regulation of smooth muscle growth. Mechanistic, hypothesisdriven approaches of all types are welcomed. Formalin- fixed LAM tissues, dispersed LAM lung cells, genetic probes and other reagents are available. Deadline for applications is 10/1/ 98, funding begins 11/1/ 98. Please contact The LAM Foundation, 10105 Beacon Hills Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45241. Website.


WWW.Cell Biology Education

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to several Websites 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.

  1. Study WEB
    This commercial site has organized over 63,000 URLs of educational and classroom importance. There are 32 topic categories listed on the first page of the site. Other features on the initial page include a search engine,“ Study Buddy”,“ The Classroom Internet” and a path to a full table of contents. The full content table is daunting in terms of choices; it is a veritable term paper heaven. The site supports learning across the K-16 continuum. Entering a key term such as “developmental biology” into the search engine results in numerous interesting URL's including Wadsworth's Wonderful Worms (nematode neurobiology) and The Zebrafish Book. Each site is rated as to its visual content, approximate grade level, and contributor of the site. If one is trying to find Web sites to support lecture material, this would be a good place to start. One interesting URL link is the Dictionary for Cell Biology which even has a section on membrane trafficking. However, the inclusiveness of the site offers problems in that so much information is available. One can spend hours pulling up all the interesting sites and you might load up your Web browser's bookmark section rapidly.
  2. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)
    Currently totaling 49 federal agencies, FREE is a response to an executive directive for identifying federal resources available on the Internet as tools for teaching and learning. Agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation (but not the NIH) have listed Internet teaching resources aimed primarily for the K- 12 audience. By selecting “Search and Subjects” from a list of five choices on the opening homepage, one can access a search engine or a list of 11 broad educational areas including mathematics, health, and science. The “Science” area provides 11 subtopics including biology. Students, parents, and teachers are provided links to sites like “The Microbe Zoo.” By entering “Dirtland” in the Zoo, one can read about “Vampirococcus” which “sucks the life juices (cytoplasm) out of another bacterium called Chromatium.” This wonderful microbiology zoo site is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Links are provided to the Smithsonian educational site which has a wealth of teaching information including lesson plans for such topics as pollination and coral reef biology. A link to the FBI has an excellent description of DNA testing for evidence collection. This site also talks about fingerprinting (the ones on your fingers). By using the built- in search engine, the topic “cell biology” results in over 4400 “hits” from the various federal agencies. ASCB members can find out what is available across the educational spectrum from the many federal agencies participating in FREE, such as the NASA microgravity experiments on cells flown on space shuttle flights. School age children of ASCB members will have an exceptional time surfing FREE. The amount of available material is impressive.
  3. The W. U. S. M. Neuroscience Tutorial
    Have you wanted to update or review your knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology? This site, created by Diana Weedman Molavi of Washington University School of Medicine, advertises itself as “an illustrated guide to the essential basics of clinical neuroscience created in conjunction with the first- year course for medical students.” It provides a concise exposure to neuroanatomy including somatosensory pathways, vestibular systems, and the basal ganglia. Other topics presented include memory, sleep, and language. The site is not an interactive tour but rather a “digital” book. If you would like to see what a good “static” book might look like on the Web, this would be a good site to visit.

These sites were checked June 1, 1998. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational Web sites with links to the sites may be found on the ASCB website or at trinity.edu

--Robert Blystone for the ASCB Education Committee


ASCB Annual Meeting Call

The 1998 ASCB Call for Abstracts was mailed last month to all ASCB members. The ASCB Annual Meeting will be from the December 12-16, in San Francisco.

The call for Abstracts may also be accessed on the ASCB Website.

Special events at the Annual Meeting will include career programs, "Congress 101", a scientific writing workshops, several sessions to familiarize attendees with NIH peer review, and the ASCB Social at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Electronic abstract submitters receive a $10 submission fee discount.

The abstract submission deadline is August 3.


Education Committee Expands Role With Postdocs

Frank Solomon chaired the Education Committee meeting held in Boston on May 23, attended by Committee members Robert Blood- good, Robert Blystone, Sarah Elgin, Elizabeth Gavis, Mary Lee Ledbetter, Roger Sloboda, and Christopher Watters, and ASCB staffers Elizabeth Marincola and Dot Doyle; Paul Matsudaira made a presentation on the Methods in Cell Biology series.

Solomon and Marincola discussed the implications of the ASCB member career survey conducted in 1997, and how the EdComm might best address some of the issues it raises. The survey data indicate that scientists at all stages of the profession find that the transition from training to independence has become increasingly difficult. From this situation arises the need to identify multiple career possibilities for trainees.

The Committee discussed ways to evaluate the efficacy of present graduate training for the jobs trainees are likely to fill. Plans were developed for a forum at the ASCB Annual Meeting in December, featuring young people from various career sectors who have effected successful transitions from trainee to independent researcher. The program would provide a forum to highlight education and training critical to career development. It is hoped that such an event would encourage young people to seek the exposure they need, and -- in the long term -- influence the shape of graduate training programs.

Matsudaira reported that four Methods volumes were published in 1997; in 1998, one volume has been published and four additional volumes are in production. He indicated that recruiting editors is the limiting factor in producing volumes.

The Committee suggested that a genetics editor as well as a cytoskeleton editor be appointed for the cytoskeleton volume, that a second Chlamydomonas volume be planned, and that Academic Press provide copies of the new Methods volumes for review at the EdComm/ MAC booth as well as in the Exhibit Hall at the ASCB Annual Meeting.

Marincola reported that a commitment to fund the production of a second edition of Opportunities & Adventures in Cell Biology had been obtained from SmithKline Beecham with the help of Richard Hynes who had contacted ASCB member George Poste, Chief Scientific Officer for SKB (see page 2). The Committee supported Marincola's suggestion that a science writer and graphic designer be retained to produce the second edition.

Solomon reported that Bruce Alberts had agreed for the award for distinguished contributions in science education be named in his honor; the Committee reaffirmed that by conferring the Award, it would provide visible models and validate the importance of science education in the community of basic researchers. The Award announcement appeared in the June issue of the ASCB Newsletter.

The Award will be presented by Alberts during an Education Initiative Forum at the 1998 Annual Meeting, and the recipient will be asked to describe his or her contributions to science education.

Watters proposed three programs for the Education Initiative Forum, leaving the fourth slot for the new Alberts Award, to be presented on Sunday, December 13. The other three proposed sessions are:

  • Web- based Approaches for Learning Macromolecular Structure/Function Relationships, by David Marcey of Kenyon College;
  • PBA, an Introduction; Your World, Our World, by June Merwin of the West Company, and
  • Evolution and Creationism: The Problem That Won't Go Away, by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education.
Bloodgood agreed to draft information about Funds for Improvement of Post- Secondary Education (FIPSE) for interested ASCB members, to be published in the ASCB Newsletter.

Ongoing Committee activities were reviewed:

  • Peer Review Group. Elgin provided some examples of strong and weak articles for the Committee to consider in developing teaching articles appropriate to submit for peer review.
  • ASCB Annual Meeting Workshops. The Science of Scientific Writing will be presented, for the second year, by Judith Swan at the 1998 Annual Meeting. Elgin will develop New Paradigms in Teaching Introductory and Cell Biology for the 1999 Workshop.
  • EdComm/ WICB lunch. Sloboda reported that Biology and the Law, Bioinfomatics, Federal/ Local Congressional Staff/ Public Policy and Professional Opportunities in Washington, D. C., and Shared Academic Research (Including Intense Summer Research) at Smaller Institutions are the new topics to be added this year.
  • Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences. Bloodgood and Elgin reported that CELS will meet on July 8 in Washington, D. C. to discuss the contributions of professional societies to biology education and to consider “Issues- Based Framework for Bio 101.”
  • ASCB/ EMBO/ H. Dudley Wright Meeting. The Education Committee agreed that the 1999 ASCB/ EMBO/ H. Dudley Wright Meeting should be sited at a place other than the U. K. or Switzerland (of the three European ASCB/EMBO meetings, one was in Switzerland and two in the U. K.). The 1999 ASCB/EMBO/ H. Dudley Wright Meeting is the last meeting in this decade- long series for which there is an outstanding financial commitment. The EdComm encouraged Solomon and Sloboda to seek renewed funding.
  • Shared Position Paper. This contribution to the “How to...” series is being coordinated by Malcolm Campbell.
  • National Association of Biology Teachers. Robert Blystone will succeed EdComm member Connie Oliver and represent the ASCB at the Current Trends in Cell Biology Symposium sponsored by the ASCB at the National Association of Biology Teachers Meeting; Blystone will recruit symposium speakers and introduce them at the symposium.


MAC Suggestions

The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) solicits the names of ASCB members interested in helping to plan MAC activities as well as to provide comments and suggestions about current or future MAC programs.

Please send comments and suggestions to:
ASCB MAC Vice Chair Donella Wilson
The American Cancer Society
Department of Research
Grants and Awards
1599 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30329.
Phone: (404) 329- 7717;
Fax: (404) 321- 4669;


The American Society for Cell Biology Minorities Affairs Committee Mission Statement


The Minorities Affairs Committee, one of the standing committees of the American Society for Cell Biology, has as its goal to significantly increase the involvement of under- represented minority scientists in all aspects of the Society. To achieve this goal we recognize the need to promote the professional development of and to recruit minority scientists. The relative small size of the pool of scientists with an interest in cell biology requires that we also develop programs for undergraduate and predoctoral students to assist them in achieving careers in biomedical research. A long range goal of the Committee is to contribute to the Nation's effort to increase the number of underrepresented minority scientists.

The specific objectives of the Committee are:

  1. To assist the ASCB in diversifying its membership.
  2. To bring issues related to minorities in science to the attention of ASCB members.
  3. To assist in the professional development of minority scientists and in the education of minority science students:
    1. to mentor young minority scientists (postdoctoral, young faculty members and industrial scientists), and pre- doctoral and undergraduate students.
    2. to establish a network involving minority scientists and minority science students.
    3. to provide minority science students and young scientists with the opportunity to acquire state- of- the art knowledge and research skills in cell biology.
  4. To provide opportunities for faculty members at minority- serving institutions to advance their research and teaching effectiveness, and establish long-term professional relationships with ASCB members.


ASCB Supports Ground, Not Space Research

Steven Harrison of Harvard, Anthony Mahowald of the University of Chicago, Elliot Meyerowitz of Cal Tech, Christopher Somerville of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution, and Andrew Staehelin of the University of Colorado.

The Committee's recommendations were adopted without modification by the governing Council and became Society policy in June.

The policy supports many of NASA's ground- based programs, especially in plant biology, the cell and developmental biology of the vestibular system, evolutionary biology and “origins of life” investigation, and environmental sciences. But it is sharply critical of many of NASA's space-based programs, underscoring the greater standard of scientific interest that should be satisfied to justify the exorbitant and difficult-to-control nature of research in space. Specifically, the Society calls for the abolition of the space- based crystallography program, claiming that “no serious contributions to knowledge of protein structure or to drug discovery or design have yet been made in space.”


Various News

SmithKline Beecham to Fund Education Brochure

SmithKline Beecham has announced a gift of $50,000 for the redesign and publication of the popular ASCB publication, Opportunity and Adventure in Cell Biology.

The ASCB receives thousands of requests annually from students, teachers, parents and counselors for information about cell biology. The “Opps” brochure, which is targeted to a high school and lay public audience, was designed to respond to such inquiries and is also distributed to school career offices, science fairs, and through exhibits such as at the annual meeting of the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Society Sponsorship Requirement Dropped to One
The ASCB membership voted to reduce the requirement for sponsorship of new Society member candidates from two member sponsors to one member sponsor. The Council and Constitution & Bylaws Committee recommended this action to the membership in response to concerns expressed by prospective members in small institutions and isolated locations who are at a disadvantage for obtaining sponsor signatures compared to applicants at large research universities.

The modified sponsorship requirement is effective immediately.

WICB Conforms to Society Committee Structure
The membership voted to modify the Society's current bylaws so that the appointment of the Chair and of members to the Women in Cell Biology Committee conforms to appointments for other Society committees. Committee Chairs are appointed by the President- elect and approved by Steven Harrison of Harvard, Anthony Mahowald of the University of Chicago, Elliot Meyerowitz of Cal Tech, Christopher Somerville of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution, and Andrew Staehelin of the University of Colorado.

MAC Receives MARC Support
The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee has received a grant for $132,927 from the National Institute of General Medical Services of the NIH.

The Minorities Access to Research Careers (MARC) grant, which is a continuation of a 1996 grant, will enable the continuation of previously established MAC programs: travel awards to the ASCB Annual Meeting and the Histochemical Society Workshop; course support for students at the Friday Harbor Laboratory at the University of Washington and the Marine Biological Laboratory; Visiting Professorship awards; and, in association with the ASCB Annual Meeting, the Special Saturday Workshop, the E. E. Just Lecture and the EdComm/ MAC Booth (see MAC Affirms Mission and Objectives)

MAC Announces Travel Awards for Histochemical Society Workshop
The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee has selected and will support the attendance of eight students and young investigators at the Joint Meeting of the Japan Society of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry and the (U. S.) Histochemical Society at the University of California, San Diego, from July 23- 26. Awardees will participate in a pre- meeting, day- long workshop on “Merging Molecular Biology with Morphological Techniques,” as well as in meeting symposia and activities. Through a NIGMS/ NIH MARC grant, the MAC seeks to provide training in cutting- edge techniques and an opportunity for minority scientists and students to be versed in the theoretical aspects of key areas of research. The 1998 awardees are:

  • Imani Gardner of the University of California, San Diego
  • Mary Kay Mascaresnas of the University of California, San Diego
  • Kafi Meadows of the Harvard School of Public Health
  • Osuem Paul Mgbonyeb of the Fox Chase Cancer Center
  • Quincy Quick of New Mexico State University
  • Jaime E. Ramirez-Vick of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Sonya Summerour of the University of California, San Diego
  • Charisse Ward of Boston University School of Medicine

Minorities Affairs Committee Affirms Missions and Objectives
J. K Haynes chaired the Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC), which met in Bethesda on June 6, and was attended by MAC Vice Chair Donella Wilson, Committee members Virginetta Cannon, Joseph Hall, Vincent Hollis, Donald Kimmel, Sandra Murray, and Vassie Ware and ASCB staff members Dot Doyle and Elizabeth Marincola. Graduate Student Ghislaine Mayer of the University of Colorado and Chair of the Saturday Session Planning Committee, presented program suggestions for the Session.

The Committee approved a MAC Mission Statement (see Mission Statement).

Marincola reported that 1% of respondents on the ASCB member career survey identified themselves as black and 2% as Hispanic. Hall commented that the number of underrepresented minorities receiving advanced degrees in science has not increased significantly in years and that the recent trend away from affirmative action in college and university admissions policies will further drive down that trend. He also registered his objection to the use of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as an admissions screening tool, claiming that it is biased against minorities and that it is only a weak indicator of scholarly success.

Committee members reviewed the MAC Web Site and suggested improvements to the index and that a brief biosketch of MAC Committee members be included. Links with the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Friday Harbor Laboratories will be initiated.

The Committee recognized the need to increase the applicant pool for many of its programs. To better promote opportunities offered by the Society and the MAC, each Committee member was assigned a group of Historically Black Colleges and University with which to develop improved communication.

The Committee reviewed the following MAC activities:

  • Proceedings being developed from the I & G Mentoring Workshop;
  • Friday Harbor Laboratories Course support;
  • The Visiting Professorship Program; next year the Committee will try to more clearly define expectations of department chairs and deans of the visiting professor;
  • Liaisons with SACNAS, MBRS/ MARC, and the Leadership Alliance;
1998 ASCB Annual Meeting Activities:
  • Recognition Lunch. Murray proposed that mentoring opportunities at the MAC Recognition Luncheon be enhanced by providing tables with designated discussion topics, including "Getting In" (addressing the transition after graduation),
  • "Getting Up" (selecting mentors, getting published), and "Getting Included"( career development).
  • Poster Session. Kimmel reported that the MAC poster session will receive assigned space in the Exhibit Hall similar to other poster topics. Committee members will review posters for award selection.
  • EdComm/ MAC Booth. Daily, informal 90- minute career discussions will be scheduled and advertised during the Saturday Session and at the booth.
  • Special Saturday Session. Mayer's committee will plan Saturday morning activities and will schedule attendance at the EdComm Writing Workshop in the afternoon.

The Undergraduate Summer Program listings will be updated in the fall; copies will be made available at the EdComm/ MAC Booth at this year's Annual Meeting. Asection on pharmaceutical companies and international programs will be added.

The Minority Action Committee (SuperMAC) plans to meet in November and will continue development of the minority database.

Members In The News
David Botstein, ASCB member and Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Biology of the Cell, was a recipient of the 1998 Chiron Corporation Biotech-nology Award. The Award honors out-standing contributions to the application of biotechnology through funda-mental research, development research or reduction to practice.

Gerald Fischbach, ASCB member since 1990, has been appointed Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the NIH. Fischbach has been Chair of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

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