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ASCB Newsletter - July 1999

Announcements
  07/01/1999

Call for Notecard Images
The Society solicits a series of images to print as the next series of ASCB notecards.

The inaugural "Mitosis Series" was introduced at the 1998 ASCB Annual Meeting and proved immediately successful. The Society hopes to introduce the second series at the 1999 ASCB Annual Meeting.

Requirements are that the images are of cells or components of cells, and that they are aesthetically beautiful.

The Mitosis Series features six progressive images.

Please send color prints or slides no later than August 16 to Elizabeth Marincola at the ASCB, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814.

The ASCB Education Committee solicits nominations for The Bruce Alberts Award for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education

The nomination letter should include a description of the nominee's innovative and sustained activities with particular emphasis on the local, regional and/or national impact of the nominee's activities.

Send letter of nomination, letters of support and CV if possible to:

The American Society for Cell Biology
9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814

Nominations must be received by August 2, 1999.

 

Graduate Students May Exchange Annual Meeting Help for Registration, Social Ticket
Students who are interested in volunteering time (up to six hours) in exchange for free registration to the 39th ASCB Annual Meeting ($35 value for members; $65 value for nonmembers) and a free Social ticket ($35 value in advance; $45 value if purchased after October 2), may complete this form and return it to the ASCB. Priority is given to students who are ASCB members or member applicants. Interested ASCB postdoc members may be selected after student members are placed.

Name
University
Department
Street Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax
E-Mail

ASCB Student Member or Application Pending? ____ yes____ no
(priority given to ASCB members or member applicants)

ASCB Post-doc Member or Application Pending? ____ yes____ no
(postdocs who are not ASCB members and are not member applicants do not qualify for selection)

Return form or direct inquiries to:
The American Society for Cell Biology
9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814-3992
Phone: (301) 530-7153; Fax: (301) 530-7139

 


Classifieds
  07/01/1999

Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley College is reopening a search for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the Division of Science. The 36-week appointment requires a Ph.D. in either genetics, cell biology, or biochemistry. Responsibilities include teaching at least one upper division course and several introductory level courses at either the Berks or Lehigh Valley campus. Development of a research program that involves undergraduates in publishable projects and a willingness to be involved in the growth of a newly formed Penn State college is expected. Preference will be given to candidates with expertise in one or more of the following areas: genetics, environmental biology, bioprocessing, and/or cell culture. Teaching experience beyond the level of a TA is highly desirable, as is experience in an industrial setting or in biotechnology. The starting date for the position is flexible, either Spring or Fall semester 2000. For additional information. Send two (2) copies of the following: letter of application, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching philosophy, and description of research program involving undergraduates. Also include the names, addresses (regular and e-mail), and phone numbers of three references to Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley College, Tulpe-hocken Rd., P.O. Box 7009, Reading PA 19610-6009. Deadline for receipt of applications is September 1, 1999. Equal Opportunity Employer /Affirmative Action.

Postdoctoral Position is available to study molecular mechanisms of mitotic chromosome condensation and segregation in yeast and mammalian cells. It requires a strong background in molecular biology and one of the following: cell biology, yeast genetics, or protein biochemistry. Send curriculum vitae and three references to Dr. Ilia Ouspenski, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, Houston TX 77030. Email.

A position with long term support is available immediately for a cell biologist in the laboratory of Lung Biology, Georgetown University. The position involves work to understand cellular and molecular aspects of lung formation (Nature Medicine 3:675,1997). The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Experience in tissue culture required, experience with in situ hybridization and electron microscopic immunolocalization is highly desirable. Please send curriculum vitae, bibliography, and three letters of references to Dr. Donald Massaro via Fax (202) 687-8538 or Email.

Postdoctoral position available immediately to participate in structure-function and cellular studies on a novel family of protein kinases which we have identified as participating in myosin control in Dictyostelium. Studies will involve a combination of site-directed mutagenesis, bacterial protein expression, and analysis of enzyme activity. Studies may also involve analysis of effects of engineered mutations on kinase function when re-introduced into Dictyostelium cells. Individuals with experience in protein biochemistry and/or experience in DNA cloning methodologies are particularly encouraged to apply. Interested individuals should send CV listing publications and names of 3 references to: Tom Egelhoff, Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-4970, Fax: (216) 368-1693, Email.

 


Education Committee Meets
  07/01/1999

Frank Solomon chaired the ASCB Education Committee meeting held in Boston on May 28, attended by Committee members Robert Bloodgood, Robert Blystone, Kay Broschat, Sarah Elgin, Sam Silverstein, Roger Sloboda and Christopher Watters and ASCB staffers Elizabeth Marincola and Dot Doyle.

  • Education Committee members recognize that ASCB members have expertise in educating undergraduate students and seeks ways to bring this expertise to teachers. Committee members sought means to expand contacts with the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee, Local Arrangements Com-mittee, other ASCB committees and outside organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Reflecting renewed interest in undergraduate teaching, Linda Silveira of the University of Red-lands was recruited to the Committee.
  • The 1999 Annual Meeting workshop, New Paradigms in Teaching Introductory and Cell Biology, organized by Sally Elgin and A. Malcolm Campbell, seeks to demonstrate current methods in teaching genomics to undergraduate students. Elgin indicated that the organizers hope to identify some discussion leaders from abstracts submitted to the Annual Meeting in the education category. In conjunction with the workshop, sessions will be scheduled at the EdComm/MAC booth to demonstrate websites and software useful in teaching genomics.
  • The EdComm will work with the LAC to present the second annual Career Panel at the Annual Meeting. Solomon solicited potential panelists who have received their Ph.D. in the past five years.
  • Solomon and Marincola reported on presentations at colleges, universities and professional meetings on their research in training structure.
  • The Society has been invited by the Sloan Foundation to develop a proposal to conduct a study of professional training by sampling the experience over time of some laboratories. Solomon and Marincola were encouraged to continue developing the proposal.
  • Blystone reported that 32 Web columns have appeared in the ASCB Newsletter. He noted that good websites are often used on a regional basis, and asked Committee members to make him aware of these sites.
  • The Committee continues to explore on-line publication of peer reviewed educational articles and to support EdComm participation in the NABT annual meeting.
  • The second annual Bruce Alberts Award for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education will be presented on Sunday, December 12. Nominations are currently being accepted. Watters reported that 1999 Education Initiative Forum speakers are being selected and solicited suggestions for presenters from Committee members. Presentations will take place on Monday-Wednesday morning.
  • Paul Matsudaira made a presentation on the status of current and planned volumes of the Methods in Cell Biology series.

 

Fuchs Elected ASCB President
  07/01/1999

Elaine Fuchs of the University of Chicago and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute was named President-elect of the Society, to take office on January 1, 2000. She will serve as President for the year 2001. Larry Goldstein of the University of California, San Diego and the HHMI was elected Secretary of the Society, and Joan Brugge, Susan Michaelis, John Pringle and Donella Wilson were elected to serve on the ASCB Council.

2,209 people, 32% of qualified members, voted. ASCB emerita member Ursula Ingrid Heine observed and validated the ballot count.

 


Society Receives Sloan Grant to Pursue Training Structure Study
  07/01/1999

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has announced a grant to the ASCB to enable the Education Committee to continue its examination of the training structure in the biomedical sciences.

 


E.E. Just Award to Honor Anderson
  07/01/1999

Winston A. Anderson of Howard University has been named the sixth annual E. E. Just Lecturer by the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee. Anderson will give the E.E. Just Lecture, The Value of Mentoring in the Career of a Young Scientist, at the ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, December 12 at 2:00 pm. The MAC is recognizing Anderson for his research and his long history of support for minority scientists.

Anderson received his Ph.D. from Brown University and began his career at the Pritzker School of Medicine of the University of Chicago. Anderson is Principal Investigator of the NSF's Research Careers for Minority Scholars program and the recipient of an NIH/NIGMS Minorities Biomedical Research Support program for minority students at Howard. With his brother, he founded a museum on slavery in rural Maryland, which has become a National attraction. He is a founding member of the ASCB MAC and was the first African-American scientist elected to the ASCB Council.

 


The National Academy of Sciences Solicits Nominations for Three Awards:
  07/01/1999

The NAS Award in Molecular Biology is presented to a young U.S. scientist to recognize recent notable discovery in molecular biology.

The NAS Award in Scientific Reviewing recognizes authors who perform significant service to science by writing scientific reviews that have influenced the course of scientific thinking. The next award will be presented to a neuroscientist.

The Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal is awarded to recognize excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae.

Nominations for these awards will be accepted through September 1, 1999. For more information, contact:

National Academy of Sciences
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Awards Program, Room 185
Washington, DC 20418
Phone: (202) 334-1602
Fax: (202) 334-2153
E-mail

The NIGMS "glue grant" program announces "Integrative and Collaborative Approaches to Research"

NIGMS has issued a Request for Applications on "Pilot Projects for the Protein Structure Initiative (Structural Genomics)," and will fund up to six awards, each up to $3 million annually (direct costs). The RFA is available online.

 


Grants & Opportunities
  07/01/1999

ASCB Science Writer Solicits Newsworthy Member Research

Visiting labs, sitting in on departmental and other seminars, and chatting with researchers are all ways institutional science writers ferret out emerging news at their institutions. Then, with the cooperation of the researchers involved, they turn this information into tips and press releases for journalists.

But ASCB's halls are spread all over the country. To solve this problem, the whole ASCB membership is urged to form a network to keep its society informed of interesting talks, not-yet-published papers, promising research trends, exciting new research directions, press releases in progress, excellent previously published items about cell biology, and members with an exceptional ability to explain difficult cell biology concepts in lay language.

The object is to develop a trickle (later a stream) of e-mail messages–a few lines will do–with topic, name, institution and, preferably, contact information for the researchers, and a sentence or two about why you find the subject interesting and why you think the public would. Inform the researcher in question, if it's not yourself: that will grease the wheels.

We will screen ideas, get more information, and perhaps issue a press release or write our own news story or longer backgrounder. If an institution's own science writer has a press release in progress, we can help spread the word and post a link to that press release from our website.

-Stephen Hart
ASCB Science Writer

 


MAC Report
  07/01/1999

Minorities Affairs Committee Plans New Activities
J.K. Haynes chaired the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC), which met in Bethesda on June 5, and was attended by MAC Vice Chair Donella Wilson, Committee members Dan Chavez, Vincent Hollis, Donald Kimmel, Sandra Murray and ASCB staff members Dot Doyle and Elizabeth Marincola. Postdoc Eva McGhee of the University of California, San Francisco, attended as an ad-hoc member. McGhee chairs the 1999 Saturday Session Planning Committee.

Committee members determined that:

  • ad-hoc MAC membership should be invited to have an opportunity to acquaint persons who are interested in MAC activities with the work of the Committee;
  • due to constraints on the time of young scientists, participants will be encouraged to be active but at a limited level, with assignment of a single defined project;
  • ad-hoc membership will be for a two-year term;
  • two to three ad-hoc members with overlapping terms will participate, and
  • ad-hoc members will attend only the spring MAC meeting and as non-voting attendees.

MAC activities at the ASCB Annual Meeting this year will be concentrated on Saturday and Sunday, December 11-12. The MAC Saturday Session for Minority Students, Postdocs and Young Faculty, Getting Over Hurdles: Tools for Career Development, will begin with a keynote address and lunch. Discussion sessions will be scheduled in the EdComm/MAC Booth as follow-up to the Saturday Session presentations.

The Minorities Poster Session will immediately follow the Saturday Session. The Committee has taken advantage of the scheduling change to incorporate oral presentations in the award review criteria. The networking reception that has ended the Saturday Session in previous years will take place during the poster session. The MAC hopes that moving the poster session to Saturday will increase the opportunity for young minority scientists to exchange information with ASCB Councilors and Committee members and to present their research to Saturday Session attendees who may not be attending the ASCB Annual Meeting. MAC award posters will be identified during regular poster sessions and awardees will be recognized during the MAC award luncheon held on Sunday, prior to the E.E. Just Lecture.

The Committee discussed criteria for the selection of the E. E. Just Lecturer, recognizing that the selected scientist will not necessarily be currently active in research. The Lecturer must be a member of an underrepresented minority group who has worked in the field of cell, molecular, or developmental biology or is using the tools of cell and molecular biology to study a problem in some other area of biology, and has a distinguished track record of research.

Haynes discussed the MAC budget as it relates to funding from the NIH/NIGMS MARC program and the ASCB.

Wilson reported on the new Linkages Program proposed in the current NIH/ NIGMS grant proposal. The program has selected seven underrepresented minority schools with the goal of increasing participation of underrepresented minority scientists and students from minority-serving institutions in activities supported by the ASCB MAC. Faculty members designated as Fellows will be expected to promote ASCB/ MAC programs at the linkage institutions, to recruit students for theses programs, and track linkage institution students who participate in MAC programs.

Marincola reported that MAC member Eloy Rodriguez has been invited to serve on the Public Policy Committee.

The MAC reaffirmed its commitment to ongoing MAC programs at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Friday Harbor Laboratory, the Histochemical Society, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science and visiting professorships nationwide.

MAC Announces MBL and Friday Harbor Awards
The ASCB Minorities Affairs Commit-tee announces the selection of seven graduate students to receive grants to support summer course attendance at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA. The awardees are supported through an NIH NIGMS Minorities Access to Research Careers (MARC) grant. They are:

  • Serapio Baca of the University of California, San Diego, attending the Neural Systems & Behavior course.
  • Lilliam Cosillos of the Autonomous University of the State of Pueblo, Mexico, attending the Microbial Diversity course.
  • Stacy Jones of the University of Virginia, attending the Biology of Parasitism course.
  • Chanda Macias of Howard University, attending the Physiology course.
  • Carrie Marín Bivens of the Center for Neuroendocrine Studies at the University of Massachusetts, attending the Frontiers in Reproduction workshop.
  • Eduardo Nzambi of Howard University, attending the Physiology course.
  • Dianne Purves of California State University, Sacramento, attending the Physiology course.

Since 1985, the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee has supported nearly 100 students to attend MBL courses. The Committee maintains an e-mail network of previous MBL awardees and encourages awardees who have lost contact with the MAC to contact ASCB to participate.

During the summer of 1999, the MAC will also support four undergraduate students at the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington. The awardees will participate in FHL's UNCF/Mellon Summer Ecology Internship Program. They are:

  • Shannon Aych of Dillard University;
  • Channae Goodwine of Wiley College;
  • Erinna Kinney of Clark Atlanta University, and
  • Kellie Mayfield of Bennett College.

 


FASEB/MARC Awards
  07/01/1999

FASEB has selected the following ASCB members to receive funding for the 1999 FASEB/ MARC Grantwriting Seminar/Workshop:

Annette Bower
Irene Brown
John Browne
Andrew Martinez
Debra Murray

 


Appropriators Struggle To Craft Funding Bills
  07/01/1999
Funding Allocations for FY2000 Appropriations Bills
Bills FY'99 Funding Level House FY'00 Appropriations Senate FY'00 Appropriations
Labor/HHS $88.8 billion $78 billion $80 billion
VA/HUD $71 billion $66 billion $61 billion

(The Labor/HHS Appropriations bill funds the NIH; the VA/HUD bill funds the NSF.)

Returning from the Memorial Day recess, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) assembled his party to urge Members to work together to pass the appropriations bills – a challenge, given the GOP's slim majority in the House. Escalating the difficulty, Democrats have little incentive to cooperate in crafting the bills. The legislation is additionally complicated by the budget caps set in place two years ago, which have significantly reduced total funding.

Under the caps, the House Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee was allocated $78 billion, almost $11 billion less than last year (see chart). In the Senate, the L/HHS allocation was slightly more favorable at $80 billion, but it still falls substantially short of last year's funding level of $88.8 billion. The House VA/HUD Appropriations Committee, which funds the NSF, was allocated $66 billion, and just $61 billion in the Senate, compared to last year's appropriation of $71 billion. Speaker Hastert vowed to come up with more funds for large House appropriations bills such as Labor/HHS and VA/HUD, but how he will get from here to there is not clear. One tactic may be to pass some of the small appropriations bills at last year's levels early in the appropriations process, risking that more funds will be found to fund the larger bills later. In the Senate, there appears to be pressure for all the appropriations bills to share reductions proportionately, but that chamber will also be challenged to pass bills.

Unless Congress can negotiate the bills effectively in both houses, legislators may be forced to discuss an Omnibus Appropriation bill with the President, which they are loath to do. A "mini budget summit," to work out conditions whereby the caps might be removed (and, presumably accountability for ‘Breaking the Budget' would be shared) may be held between Congressional leaders and the White House.

For now, the Clinton Administration is not encouraging negotiations with Congress, criticizing instead the Republican budget and its allocations to the appropriations committees, which the White House has estimated will require an 18% across-the-board cut in programs. The assumption for the NIH, however, is an increase of $2 billion in FY 2000, consistent with the Biomedical Revitalization Resolution of 1999, signaling that the NIH budget will continue on its path to double in five years. Both the House and Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Commit-tees are discussing taking up their bills in July, but may wait until the fall to move. The Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy sent a legislative update to the Congressional Liaison Committee asking CLC members to contact their Representatives to urge their support of the Biomedical Revitalization Resolution of 1999.

The VA/HUD Appropriations bill, which funds the NSF, is even further delayed. Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) has announced that the Committee's bill will not move until "after the summer," while the Senate bill could be marked up somewhat earlier. Given the disappointing allocation to the VA/HUD subcommittees, chances are slim for the NSF to realize a hoped-for 15% increase. In fact, Chairman Walsh has indicated that even President Clinton's proposed 7% increase for the NSF may be elusive, with 3-5% more likely.

Walsh and Price Hope to Delay Implementation of FOIA
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) modifications effecting biomedical research are also on hold for now. The amendment, added to the Omnibus Appropriation bill last year by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), could subject all federally funded research to FOIA requests. Representatives James Walsh (R-NY) and David Price (D-NC) hoped to offer an amendment to the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill to delay the implementation of the "Shelby Amendment" for one year in order to study its impact on research. Action on the bill, originally scheduled for a May vote, was delayed because of unrelated controversial gun control amendments to the same bill.

NBAC and NIH Push for Stem Cell Research
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), ASCB Public Policy Director Tim Leshan, and Public Policy Committee Chair Paul Berg meet to discuss the stem cell issue.

The National Bioethics Advisory Commission has released a draft version of its report on stem cell research.

The draft, which calls for the limited lifting of the ban on embryo research in order to allow for stem cell research, received widespread media coverage. The controversial ban currently restricts all federal funding for research "in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero..."

Earlier this year, the Department of Health & Human Services ruled that federal funds could be used for stem cell research so long as the funds were not used to derive the cells from human embryos. The draft NBAC report challenges the HHS ruling, declaring that "there is no compelling ethical justification for distinguishing between the derivation and use of human stem cells." The reaction from Capitol Hill has been swift and ideological. Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA), Chairman of the House Commerce Committee that authorizes the NIH, has called for hearings on the NBAC report, which "gravely disappoint[s]" him.

Upon release of the NBAC report, the Patients' Coalition for Urgent Research ("Patients' CURe") held a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce its formation to advocate for stem cell research. The group of about 30 organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, the Parkinson's Action Network and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, also released polling data showing that "74% of those polled favor funding for stem cell research by the NIH." The ASCB has been working closely with Patients' CURe to enable stem cell research.

Appropriations are likely to be effected by the stem cell issue if, as expected, an amendment banning stem cell research is offered on the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill.

The NIH, which is separately studying the issue, is expected to release the final draft of its stem cell guidelines in the next month, which may in turn provoke a lawsuit to block implementation. At the recent NIH Director's Advisory Committee meeting, NIH Director Harold Varmus reiterated his intention to publish the draft guidelines in the federal register for 60 days of public comment. Varmus envisions allowing some current grantees to obtain stem cells from a private vendor to facilitate their continued research.

Botstein Proposes Plan to Build U.S. Bioinformatics
ASCB member and Molecular Biology of the Cell Editor-in-Chief David Botstein of Stanford presented the report of the NIH Working Group on Biomedical Computing to the NIH Director's Advisory Committee on June 3. Botstein, with Larry Smarr, Director of the National Center for Super-computing Applications at the University of Illinois, co-chaired the working group.

The Working Group considered the needs of NIH-supported investigators "for computing resources, including hardware, software, networking, algorithms, and training," and recommended that:

  • the NIH establish between five and twenty National Programs of Excellence in Biomedical Computing devoted to all facets of this emerging discipline, from basic research to the tools to do the work. It is the expectation that the National Programs will play a major role in educating biomedical-computation researchers.
  • to make the growing body of biological data available in a form suitable for study and use, the NIH establish a new program directed toward the principles and practice of Information Storage, Curation, Analysis, and Retrieval (ISCAR).
  • the NIH provide additional resources and incentives for basic research (through R01 grants) to provide adequate support for those who are inventing, refining, and applying the tools of biomedical computing.
  • the NIH foster a scalable national computer infrastructure. Also, to assure that biomedical researchers can gain access to the computing resources they need beyond their desktops, that the NIH provide financial resources to increase computing capacity, both local and remote, to establish a balanced infrastructure for all computational needs.

Martin Chalfie of Columbia University is greeted by Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), following his presentation on The Sequence of the Worm Genome: What it Means for Human Biology.

NIH Releases Proposed Research Tools Policy
The NIH has released new recommended policy on the sharing of biomedical research resources, based on a report of the NIH Working Group on Research Tools. The document was published in the federal register for public comment.

The suggested policy seeks to "assist NIH funding recipients in determining 1) reasonable terms and conditions for making NIH-funded research resources available to scientists in other institutions in the public and private sectors (disseminating research tools), and 2) restrictions to accept as a condition of receiving access to research tools for use in NIH-funded research (importing research tools)." The draft policy was developed in response to the perceived obstacles to researchers in accessing and disseminating proprietary research tools, the competing interests of intellectual property owners and researchers, and the administrative burden commonly required to share research materials.

Following the public comment period, which concludes August 23, the NIH may amend the policy as needed and release it as voluntary guidelines for universities.

Public Policy Committee Meets
The ASCB Public Policy Committee met in late May at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington, DC for its semi-annual meeting. Paul Berg of Stanford chaired the meeting.

The Committee discussed events planned for the 1999 Annual Meeting, including the ASCB Public Service Award, Congress 101: How and Why to Talk Science With Your Member of Congress, the Practice of Science forum, the Congressional Liaison Committee presentation and the Demonstration Study Section. The Committee also reviewed the status of legislative activity as it relates to biomedical research. Alec Stone, District Coordinator for the Congressional Liaison Committee, described recent visits by CLC members to Capitol Hill to discuss issues relating to biomedical research.

Students & Postdocs Trek to Capitol Hill
On June 16, fifteen graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from around the country set aside their experiments, hung up their Pipetmen, and headed to Washington to attend the first Capitol Hill Day for students and postdoc members of the Congressional Liaison Committee of the Joint Steering Committee for Public Policy. Together we represented the University of Alabama, the American Red Cross, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Stanford, and Tufts University. Our main goals were to thank Members of Congress for the historic 15% increase in NIH funding for FY 1999, to offer our support for an additional increase this year, and to ask Representatives to reaffirm their commitment to doubling the NIH budget by the year 2003.

Many of us were energized by the opportunity to persuade lawmakers to place biomedical research funding at the top of their agendas. After all, the implications of this investment were obvious to us: a better understanding of disease, resulting in more effective therapies, or even cures, to augment the quality of life. Furthermore, new discoveries would lead to increased investment from the private sector to develop drugs and other therapies.

Representatives saw in us a future well-trained workforce, dedicated to research and to generating a better understanding of biology and disease, willing to labor long hours, often for little compensation, in order to make our contributions. Our case for the funds to continue our research was compelling.

It wasn't until our visit that many of us fully understood that in the context of all the other worthy and important programs that are competing with the NIH in its Appropriations Committee bill, it is difficult to put a face on basic biomedical research. After all, the idea that this funding may "someday" lead to cures is difficult to appreciate, especially when many discoveries may not lead to cures, and those that do may not soon. Further-more, how do we convince our elected representatives that today's investment in basic research on the growth and development of yeast, fruit flies or worms may later provide insights into cellular pathways that are disrupted during the formation of malignant tumors? Our idealism, enthusiasm, and dedication made the case for us and our very presence helped put a face on the research efforts across the country. We discovered to our satisfaction that our advocacy for research funding was mostly about demonstrating our appreciation for the champions of our cause. We provided Reps. George Gekas (R-PA), John Porter (R-IL), and other members of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, with the information they needed to persuade their fellow law makers to support basic research, enabling them to do what they do best: lobby each other.

With the guidance and sage advice of our JSCPP Congressional Education Liaisons, Belle Cummins and Peter Kyros, JSCPP District Coordinator, Alec Stone, and our own society's Tim Leshan (Director of Public Policy) and Elizabeth Marincola (Executive Director), we fanned out in small groups across Capitol Hill. They not only got us through the labyrinth of Congressional offices and the intricacies of legislation, but they also briefed us on each Member's political history as well as the specific goals for each meeting. For example, those of us from Massachusetts met with Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Joe Moakley's (D-MA) Chief of Staff, and encourage the Congressmen to participate in the "Special Order" on doubling the NIH budget. We expected to be relegated to meeting with staff assistants, yet we were surprised to find that many of our Representatives made time to meet with us personally, despite the heated debate on gun control going on that day. We were equally pleased that when we did meet with staff, they were impressively responsive and well-informed.

Overall, our day on Capitol Hill sharpened our communication skills, heightened our awareness of the appropriations process, and inspired us to stay involved. As the students and post-doctoral fellows in the trenches of our nation's laboratories, we set out for Washington intent on persuading our leaders to place biomedical research funding at the top of their agendas. What we discovered was that personally and enthusiastically making the case for biomedical research was the greatest contribution we could make to the national discourse on increasing the budgets of federally-funded research programs. I believe that each of us took away something unexpected, not the least of which was a better understanding of how to communicate our ideas and scientific needs to the people who can shape not only the future of our research, but the future of our careers as well.

–Rebecca Moore Peterson, ASCB member, Penn State University; former graduate student of Tufts University

Representative George Gekas (R-PA) discusses the importance of biomedical research funding in a private meeting with the fifteen Hill Day participants after the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus luncheon.

Chris Kevil, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, meets with Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL).

 


WWW.Cell Biology Education
  07/01/1999

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to several Web sites 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. International Digital Library of Microbial Resources for Teaching and Learning
    The American Society for Microbiology recently established a website titled Educational Instructional Library, "a Web-based visual and curriculum collection about the microbial world. It builds upon the scientific expertise, intellectual creativity, and private collections of 45,000 members of the ASM, [who]... have taken numerous photographs and movies of the microbial world and developed a variety of activities and laboratory exercises to improve their instruction."

    For an overview, it is useful to link first to "Frequently Asked Questions" from the homepage. The project suggests that other professional societies may wish to build upon ASM's extensive effort to develop web-based educational resources.

    The homepage describes how "the Instructional Library has two unique features that distinguish it from other national clearinghouses. First, all items are correlated to key microbial concepts and basic laboratory skills for undergraduate education. Second, all items are peer-reviewed and selected for scientific accuracy, instructional value, and quality, [and]offers teaching faculty a place to publish original materials for improving teaching and learning in the microbiological sciences and is considered similar to a research journal for publishing original research."

    The site is divided into two parts: 1) visual resources and 2) curriculum resources. To appreciate the site, one should go to the Demonstration Site page. To access the Visual Resources area, organized into four theme areas: microbial cell biology, microbial genetics, microorganisms and humans, and microorganisms in the environment, currently 42 with image pages.

    The site also has 10 classroom and laboratory curriculum resources, organized into three categories: collection, activities incubator, and educator's tool box. The "collection" area includes: 1) understanding gene regulation, 2) modeling microbes to scale, and 3) voyage of the nitrogen atom. These collections are quite good and offer many teaching ideas.

    I encourage you to explore this excellent and growing site carefully. ASM clearly offers a model for Web-based undergraduate education. Your comments about this site and whether the ASCB Education Committee should consider a similar project are solicited. Please send you comments to Robert Blystone

    .

  2. Advanced Practice Nurse - Continuous Learning Project
    Distance Education is a very topical education concept these days. Wichita State University School of Nursing has developed a demonstration site providing model for a Web-based distance education course. The first screen gives three topic choices: Dermatology, Low Back Pain, and HIV (still under construction). Choose either Dermatology or Low Back Pain. Select Step Two and link from "Rate Yourself" from the first paragraph. A list of ten behaviors appears that clearly outline the criteria for a distance learner. For those groping with the idea of distance education, this is a good place to start. From this point one can begin the "sample preview" of a distance learning module.

    Step Six on either topic represents a review of a sample case study. Remember that this is only a demonstration module and for a fee one can take the "real" Web-based course for credit. Cell biology teaching modules could be designed in this format.

  3. Profiles in Science
    The National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science was initiated with its profile of Oswald Avery*. A second profile, of the life and science of Joshua Lederberg, has been added. It is quite interesting and makes use of various web-based media.

    There is a useful adjunct to this site. You may have wondered if your Web browser has the multi-media plug-ins needed for the newer resources. This link has a plug-in detector for JPEG, PDF, Quicktime, and RealAudio. You can test to see if your browser has the plug-in. If not, it gives a link to go get the missing plug-in – a nice feature you may wish to explore.

These sites were checked May 12, 1999. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational web sites with the links to the sites may be found at trinity.edu.

–Robert Blystone for the ASCB Education Committee

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