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ASCB Newsletter - August 2001

Sekito Named 10th MBC Awardee

Takayuki Sekito, a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute for Basic Biology of Japan, was named by the Molecular Biology of the Cell Editorial Board as the tenth MBC Paper of the Year Awardee.

Sekito is the first author of the article entitled Mitochondria-to-Nuclear Signaling is Regulated by the Subcellular Localization of the Transciption Factors Rtg1p and Rtg3p, published in the June 2000 issue of MBC.

Sekito will present his research at the minisymposium on Nuclear Trafficking at the ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC this December.


Burgess to Give E.E. Just Lecture

David R. Burgess of Boston College will give the 8th Annual E.E. Just Lecture at the ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Burgess, an ASCB member since 1978, recently served as President of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and received a 2001 Macy award from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. Burgess’ laboratory studies cytokinesis.

The Just Lecture, sponsored by the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee, is named in memory of E.E. Just, an early 20th century black zoologist.


Visiting Professorships

Since 1997, the ASCB has sponsored faculty from minority-serving institutions to work in the laboratories of ASCB host scientists. The Visiting Professor spends eight to ten weeks in the host lab, refining research techniques and teaching strategies while developing long-term collaborations with research-intensive universities. Five Visiting Professors were selected by the ASCB MAC for the Summer of 2001:


Friday the 13th: A Lucky Day for Cell Biology at the MBL

The ASCB honored five 2001 ASCB/MBL course award recipients at an event co-hosted by ASCB President Elaine Fuchs and ASCB MAC Chair J.K. Haynes of Morehouse College.

The awardees and their courses were:

  • Hysell Oviedo of New York University Center for Neural Science, Methods in Computational Neuroscience
  • Ernest Barreto of George Mason University, Neurobiology
  • Annette Garza of University of Texas San Antonio, Neural Systems & Behavior
  • Tim Moore of Clark Atlanta University, Neural Systems & Behavior
  • Julie Robidart of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Microbial Diversity

Also representing the ASCB were MAC Vice Chair Donella Wilson, former ASCB Secretary George Langford, former Society President George Pappas, Councilor Ted Salmon, former Councilor Marianne BronnerFraser, Education Committee member Roger Sloboda, Public Policy Committee member Robert Palazzo and Public Information Committee member Robert Goldman. Minority undergraduates from the NSF Marine Models in Biological Research program as well as minority students supported by the ASCB attended.

2001 is the sixteenth year that the ASCB and the NIH-MARC Program have supported students to attend courses at the MBL.


Undergraduates Experience the MBL: A Teacher’s Viewpoint

Oceanfront Research Training—Marine Models in Biological Research
Keisha Byam is counting fertilized egg fragments under her microscope, oblivious to the yacht and commercial fishing boat traffic traversing Woods Hole, less than a quarter mile away and right in front of our lab in the Whitman Building at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Aurelia Skipwith is sitting next to her, but Aurelia sees the traffic as she looks up from her laptop computer. She is in a hurry to get to the microscope, but we have only one in the lab, so they schedule their experiments to alternate microscope time. Miraculously, the large windows overlooking the harbor, the Hole, Nonamesset Island, Vineyard Sound and Martha’s Vineyard do not distract them from their research projects TOO much.

Both of these young women are involved in Marine Models in Biological Research (MMBR), a training program at MBL for undergraduate students that is run by ASCB members Carole Browne and Mike Tytell of Wake Forest University. I, too, am a strong believer in the concept of getting undergraduate students interested in research, so it took little or no effort on their part to get me involved. Over the past 25 summers, I have had a number of undergraduate students working with me at the MBL. Only a few have subsequently been “redirected” into research, but I strongly believe that it is the victories that need to be counted in a program like this. If a student who wasn’t seriously interested in a research career before a program like this doesn’t change his or her mind, that is no loss. If a student develops or cements an interest in research, that is a victory.

I recruited Keisha into the program because she had been a top student in two different courses that I taught at Howard University, and she had expressed an interest in graduate school; it took no particular insight to know pretty well what to expect from her. Aurelia came into the program on one of those lucky coincidences that happen from time to time. She just responded to an announcement that was posted and impressed me very much with her quick mind and her obvious interest in and aptitude for pursuing a graduate degree. Aurelia is a bright young woman with an obvious curiosity about and aptitude for research, but she didn’t have the experience to know how she felt about it. After one discussion, I invited her into the program. While quite different from one another, they are both the type of motivated, bright young person who makes teaching and training worthwhile and pleasurable.

I have interacted with this program formally and informally almost since its inception. Several other ASCB members have participated and continued to do so, including Nina Allen, Bob Gould, Hans Laufer, Bob Palazzo, Bob Silver and Roger Sloboda. Carole and Mike are both serious and work very well with the undergraduate students. They have established a program that takes advantage of many of the strengths of the MBL. The students attend some of the lectures, usually those in the Physiology Course, and evening seminars. In addition, they have seminars of their own in which students or investigators present their work to the group. Most of the program, however, is research. Each student does research in the lab of an MBL scientist and has access to all of the other scientists at the MBL, nearly all of whom are happy to help almost any student or other investigator with almost any research problem. This is one of the great strengths of the MBL, and it works equally well for the undergraduate students in MMBR.

This year, there are eighteen students from thirteen institutions. They are studying various aspects of cell biology, including fertilization, cell cycle regulation, muscle cell biology, retinal function, heat shock proteins and the molecular biology of myosin. Though cell biology is prominent, it is not the entire program. Other students study behavior or physiology. While most of the students are funded directly by the MMBR Program’s NSF grant, Keisha and Aurelia are supported by a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) supplement to my own NSF grant.

I have found that it is valuable to put students in a program of this type on a project that has a reasonable chance of being completed in a few weeks. Otherwise, they can’t get the full sense of where the project is going or what it means. I have found that it also helps them to make greater contributions to the work. Both Keisha and Aurelia have demonstrated the ability to think independently and analytically. Aurelia, in particular, has a surprising knack for knowing where an experiment has to go next. Keisha is generating transparent egg fragments from the parchment worm Chaetopterus, with a goal of using them for in vivo imaging of calcium ion and other metabolite fluxes in the egg after fertilization. She is working on methods to get the eggs to fertilize more reliably after fragmentation by centrifugation on a discontinuous sucrose gradient. Aurelia is treating eggs with agonists and antagonists of various calcium release mechanisms to determine which of these may be involved in egg activation at fertilization. I selected these projects for them because each has an important place in the overall research program of my lab, and each has a definite endpoint that should be reachable in the10 weeks this program lasts. As I write this, the program has about three weeks to go, and both of them have made substantial progress on their projects. I expect that both will make important contributions to the research program in my lab. The program is already a success from my perspective, and there is still time to accomplish more!

One serious problem in getting top minority undergraduates interested in research careers is the prejudice in favor of a medical practice. My previous MMBR trainee did end up going to medical school, but she immediately entered a reproductive biology research program there. She told me at the time that the MMBR experience lit the fire in her to do research. What more can you ask of such a program?

While Keisha and Aurelia are African-Americans, MMBR students as a whole represent a diverse population composed of all possible ethnicities. Thus the students interact with a diverse peer group of similarly minded students as well as a large population of well-funded senior scientists. Add that to proximity to the beach, a gorgeous natural environment and the availability of a diverse marine flora and fauna, and you have the makings of a uniquely valuable opportunity to direct undergraduate students into careers in research. This is a program that is good for students, good for mentors and good for science.

For more information.

—Bill Eckberg, Howard University


2001 Late Abstract Submissions

The 2001 ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, will include a Special Poster Session on Wednesday, December 12, 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 12. A subgroup of the Program Committee will select abstracts, and authors will be notified by November 9 of the Committee’s decision. Printing deadlines prevent these abstracts from appearing in the Molecular Biology of the Cell Abstracts Issue. They will be published in the Program Addendum, which is distributed at the Annual Meeting.

Submission of Abstracts for the Special Poster Session October 12 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 desired. A student member may sponsor his/her abstract only. Students may not sponsor another person’s abstract. Sponsors of submitted abstracts must be sure that all authors listed on the abstract have had a significant role in the research being reported. First-time, partial-year membership is offered to facilitate membership benefits (including sponsorship privilege and registration discount) for those who have never been ASCB members.

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.

To submit an abstract, point your web browser (version 4 or higher) to www.ascb.org and click on the “Submit Late Abstract” link

  • The abstract may be up to 300 words.
  • Provide corresponding author information: address, phone, fax and e-mail.
  • Provide ASCB member sponsoring the abstract: name, phone, e-mail (members may sponsor their own abstract).
  • Type or cut-and-paste your abstract title, author information and abstract text into the corresponding boxes on the submission form. A table of Special Characters (Greek, scientific, mathematical, etc.) and basic HTML formatting tags are available online.
  • Payment must be made by credit card and transmitted with the abstract over our secure web server. The late abstract submission fee is $45. [Note: abstract submission does not constitute meeting registration.
  • An e-mail acknowledgment will be sent to the corresponding author.


WWW.Cell Biology Education

The ASCB Education Committee calls attention each month to 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. Microangela
    This site is a thing of beauty brought to you by Tina Carvalho of the Pacific Biomedical Research Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This URL provides access to an exceptional collection of colorized SEM images of primarily insects. The homepage is divided into seven sections of “thumbnail micrographs”: everyday insects, denizens, tissue, “grows on you”, patterns, marine, and copepods. The colorization brings out interesting details of the various subjects depicted. More than a 100 high-quality micrographs cover a great deal of biological territory with most images carrying annotations. If an instructor wants to add some sparkle to a lecture, material might be found here. Some of the images are worth turning into poster art. Carvalho is quite whimsical with her SEM antics section and with some animations of electron micrographs. It is a feast for the eyes for those who like beautiful micrographs.
  2. Digital Teaching Resources Library for Biology
    A joint project between the public schools of Edmonton and the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Alberta brings us this web site. To quote from the site: “Bio-DiTROL operates as a non-profit, peer-reviewed journal of teaching resources. In it you will find images, animations, video clips and text excerpts that may be downloaded for use by subscribers. Anyone may search or browse by following the appropriate links. Contributions of suitable teaching resources are most welcome.” The homepage is somewhat sparse and is built around a search engine. One types in a biological term and the engine consults the database of biological exercises. As an example, the term “evolution” was entered and nine responses resulted. One was titled “Transportation networks in a human and a leaf.” The lab exercise was extremely well indexed to the Alberta curriculum guide. In order to obtain the exercise, one must be a subscriber. An information form is filled out and with a password one can download either by http or ftp a zip or stuffit file. To be a personal subscriber costs nothing. The exercises are generally interesting and useful to the K-12 grade levels. It is worth a look, but be warned that the download times can be slow.
  3. 123 Genomics
    Enter this metasite and you have exceptional access to a wide array of other URLs dealing with genomics. To quote from the site: “The objective of this site is to be a one stop location where one can find most of the freely available internet resources related to genomics and bioinformatics.” To this end this commercial site delivers. Using the search engine for the site, I typed in “cytokines.” The search took me to “Genes and Proteins”, one of the 18 site categories. Genes and Proteins is organized into eleven groups including the following: annotated databases, transcription factors, cytokines and growth factors, extracellular signalling molecules, nuclear receptors, G-protein coupled receptors, kinases, phosphatases, ion channels, cancer related genes, and others. Choosing cytokines, one is taken to the Danish site titled COPE (Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopaedia). Following a path within COPE to TNF-alpha, an extensive database appeared giving alternate names, sources, protein characteristics, gene structure, receptors, biological activities, and transgenics. An undergraduate student having to learn and organize information about a cytokine such as TNFalpha for the first time would be absolutely ecstatic. Returning to the home page, I visited the section on diseases and disorders and found my way to Diseases of Lab Rats, a site based at the University of Arizona. Continuing in the disorder section I found my way to the British-based Glandular Organ Development Database. As an instructor of Developmental Biology, I found a resource I could immediately use in the classroom. Returning again to the homepage, one could go off to a category for programs and degrees in bioinformatics. An undergraduate interested in graduate programs in this area would be extremely pleased. At every click of the mouse, the site would lead one to interesting and relative informaton on genomics. From sequence analysis to microarrays and from careers to meetings, 123 Genomics offers both research and teaching possibilities and support. This URL is worth an extended visit and possible bookmark.

These sites were checked July 10, 2001. Previous ASCB columns reviewing Educational Websites with the links to the sites may be found online.


Members In The News

Alexander Varshavsky of the California Institute of Technology, an ASCB member since 1991, received the 2001 Merck Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the 2001 Wolf Prize in Medicine from Wolf Foundation in Israel and the 2001 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University.



The ASCB is grateful to those below who have recently given gifts to support Society activities:

Donald Brown
Sheila Counce-Nicklas
Dorothy Croal
Joseph Gal
Emmanuel Farber
Ulrike Licht
Vivianne Nachmias
Alfred Owczarzak
Joachim R. Sommer
Jeremy Tuttle


Grants & Opportunities

ECHO Grants. Exploring & Collecting History Online—Science & Technology, is sponsoring grants on the history of science, technology, and medicine using the Internet. Application deadline is September 1.

Investigators in Infectious Disease Grant. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is offering Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Awards. Deadline is November 1.

Award Nominations. The American Assoication for Cancer Research is accepting nominations for eight honorary awards. Winners will present a scientific lecture at the 93rd AACR Annual Meeting. Deadline is September 10.

PREP Fellowships. Post-doctoral Research and Education Program invites applications for programs at Emory University, the Atlanta University Complex (AUC): Morehouse School of Medicine, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Morris Brown College, and Clark-Atlanta University. Minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

PRAT Fellowships. The Pharmacology Research Associate Program of the NIGMS is sponsoring postdoctoral fellows conducting research at NIH.

TR100” young innovators awards. Technology Review, MIT’s award-winning magazine of innovation, is seeking nominations for its worldwide “TR100” young innovators awards. Deadline for nominations: September 1.



Two Postdoctoral Positions. Available summer 2001. To study cell/ molecular aspects of protein transport and protein-protein interactions relevant to Huntington’s Disease and the Fragile X Syndrome. Contact. Dr. A. Tartakoff, Pathology/Cell Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.


The ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee Presents A Women’s Professional Problem-Solving Group

A Women’s Professional Problem-Solving Group
An audio recording from the Women in Cell Biology Committee presentation at the 34th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology is now available on the ASCB Web site. The session was entitled, “Beyond Survival: The Evolution of a Women’s Professional Problem-Solving Group.

The presentation summarizes how to form a women’s problemsolving group, how the group works and basic guidelines for forming a local group.

Speakers include Beth Burnside, UCB; Ellen Daniell, Roche Molecular Systems; Carol Gross, UCSF; Christine Guthrie, UCSF; Judith Klinman, UCB; Mimi Koehl, UCB; Suzanne McKee, Smith-Ketterwell Eye Research Institute and HelenWittmer, UCB.

To listen to the 35-minute presentation

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