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ASCB Newsletter - July 2001

Pfeffer Named 2003 President

Blau, De Camilli, Lindquist, Walter Elected to Council; Ward to Serve as Treasurer
Suzanne Pfeffer of Stanford University was elected by the ASCB membership to serve as Society President in 2003. She will follow Gary Borisy who will serve in 2002.

Gary Ward of the University of Vermont was elected Treasurer, succeeding Carl Cohen who concludes two terms (six years) of service at year-end.

Elected from among eight candidates for Council are Helen Blau, Pietro De Camilli, Susan Lindquist and Peter Walter.

2,489 of 7202 eligible members voted in the ASCB’s first electronic balloting, representing 35% of the voting membership, a 5% increase over last year.


Bynum Tapped for Alberts Education Award

David Bynum of the State University of New York, Stony Brook will receive the fourth annual Bruce Alberts Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science Education. The Award will be presented by Alberts at the 41st ASCB Annual Meeting.

Announcing the Award, Selection and Education Committee Chair Frank Solomon said, “the Award Committee was impressed by the range and depth of Dr. Bynum’s activities. We especially appreciated that his programs affect education at many levels, and that he has assessed their outcomes and shown that they work.” Bruce Alberts, Robert DeHaan, Elaine Fuchs, Elizabeth Gavis, Elizabeth Marincola and Roger Sloboda also served on the Selection Committee.


Yamamoto to Succeed Botstein as MBC Editor-in-Chief

Keith Yamamoto will become Editor-inChief of Molecular Biology of the Cell beginning January 2002.

Yamamoto, who is chairman of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF, helped create the journal in 1989. He succeeds David Botstein, whose tenure as Editor-in-Chief propelled the journal to its current success. “David’s superb leadership laid a solid foundation, and we look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” said Yamamoto.

MBC recently launched an electronic manuscript system, automating the submission and review process.


Member Opinion - Bioethical and Legal Boundaries of Human Cloning

In 1997, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission recommended a ban on cloning for human reproduction.1 This recommendation and the ethical concerns related to human cloning have spilled over into legislative discussions and may result in banning cloning for human reproduction, therapeutic cloning and even basic research in this area. While research in human cloning warrants regulation, banning research impacts a variety of broad issues, including a possible infringement on freedom of scientific inquiry2 and sets a dangerous precedent that may limit potential health benefits that can be derived from cloning technology.

Recent bills3 call for civil penalties of up to $10 million and possible life imprisonment for anyone attempting to clone a human being. Will Congress seek legislation to prevent any research related to human cloning by prohibiting somatic cell nuclear transfer using human cells?4 For scientists to make a cogent argument addressing the potential legislative ban on human cloning research, we must clarify the issues underlying the anti-cloning sentiment.

Recent surveys indicate that there is a critical gap between scientists and both the public and elected officials in understanding the primary goals of human cloning research. According to a recent Time/CNN poll,5 the public believes that the major therapeutic benefits of human cloning are overcoming infertility and cloning a child that died. Therapeutic benefits of cloning research may be much broader. Understanding the regulation of cellular differentiation and the mechanism(s) by which an oocyte’s cytoplasm reprograms the DNA from the nucleus of a differentiated cell could lead to developing new therapies in organ transplantation, heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases, cancer and fetal abnormalities. The public must be informed of these broad research goals and that a total ban on human cloning research would deprive society of powerful therapeutic benefits that could emerge from this research.

Why do Members of Congress believe it is necessary to legislate the conduct of biomedical research? This initiative may actually reflect the greater public concern regarding human cloning. In the poll mentioned above, 90% of the respondents thought that human cloning was a “bad idea”6 because of: (1) religious beliefs (34%), (2) interfering with human individuality (22%), (3) non-therapeutic applications (i.e., eugenics) of cloning (22%), and (4) health risks to the fetus (14%).

According to this survey, the primary religious concerns include the right of people to play God and undergoing a procedure associated with spontaneous miscarriages. In this regard, in vitro fertilization (IVF) provides a useful historical model that illustrates how public opinion and concerns about a new technology can evolve over time. In fact, these same religious concerns were initially raised thirty years ago in response to the birth of the first test tube baby. Nonetheless, as the medical benefits of IVF became apparent, and society’s view of infertility as a correctable medical condition evolved, these religious issues no longer were of concern to the general public. Surveys from 1980 showed that about 85% of the public felt that IVF should be banned because it violated religious tenets. Currently, 75% of respondents approve IVF and only about 5% object to IVF for religious reasons. Thus, IVF provides an instructive lesson as we consider ways to address public concern regarding religious issues raised by cloning. When the medical benefit of a new technology becomes evident to the public, and the technology is found to acceptably safe, the public and, in turn, government, both adopt more positive attitudes toward these ethically sensitive technologies.

The second public concern identified in the survey was that cloning interferes with the right of each human being to be a unique individual. This reflects the public’s lack of understanding of the relationship between nature and nurture.5 One member of Congress recently stated that “[Cloning] interferes with the natural order….People have a right to their own genetic makeup, which should not be replicated.”7 The immediate response to this concern is that nature does not assure that each human being will have a unique genome. There are about 2.5 million identical twins in the United States. Moreover, identical twin studies show that genes per se do not determine the elements of each person’s individuality. The public often fails to appreciate the impact of nurture in human development or to realize that human clones will have different personality traits than the individuals whose DNA they carry. The public should be educated to understand that individuality results from a complex interaction between differences in education, environment, life experiences and genetic endowment. Psychologically and physiologically, individuality stems from both how a person is conceived and what he or she experiences after birth.

The third concern specified in the survey was related to the fear of both the public and governmental leaders that cloning will be used for non-therapeutic purposes to produce human clones for commercial use, to create ‘designer’ babies, or to create ‘evil leaders’. This fear of eugenics is not restricted to human cloning since similar concerns were expressed in the early days of IVF. While this is an issue where abuse may be difficult to regulate, this fear may be partially mitigated once the public understands the critical role that nurture plays in all areas of human development: there is more to developing a great basketball star than simply cloning Michael Jordan. Similarly, the fear that cloning a Hitler-like individual could create world havoc is overly simplistic. Even raising children to be moral citizens is a complex task the success of which remains difficult to understand in scientific, psychological or sociological terms.

One point where scientists, the public and legislators are in general agreement is that as long as the success rate of cloning animals remains dangerously low and the risks to the fetus high,8 this procedure should not be applied to human reproduction. However, time can also serve as an ally and safety issues can dramatically change as technology improves. For example, by 1990, IVF clinics spread across the United States with success measured by the ratio of live births to uterine transfers of about 8%. Today, the success rate for IVF has risen to about 28% and the babies born using IVF appear to be healthy.9 These statistics have alleviated many of the fears and health concerns among the general population and, in turn, politicians.

Regulations introduced by coalitions of scientists, government officials and the public were instituted when recombinant DNA technology was introduced in the 1970s and have served as a good organizational model for developing guidelines in human cloning. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission recommended in 1997 that creating a child using somatic cell nuclear transfer be banned but not other areas of scientific research related to this technology. The public and government officials should be informed that we, as scientists, agree that both safety and ethical issues currently justify the prohibition of using nuclear transfer (i.e., germ-line cloning) to create pre-embryos that will be implanted into a surrogate human host. However, there remain two critical issues that have to be resolved. The first is related to the status of pre-embryos created by somatic cell nuclear transfer that have never been transferred into a host mother. There is a need to elaborate how these preembryos can be used within a research setting since there are cultural, religious and national differences about the status of preimplanted embryos. The second is whether regulation be initiated and enforced by Congress or federal agencies such as the FDA. Resolving these issues will set the stage in establishing reasonable guidelines for research.

Scientists, scientific societies and scientific coalitions have a great influence on governmental policy. For example, federal agencies may eventually approve embryonic stem cell research as a result of the efforts by scientific societies, coalitions, and a letter written to President Bush by eighty US Nobel laureates. Therefore, we have to intensify these efforts. Our influence will also be greater when President Bush appoints a national Science Advisor and fills top positions at the NIH. A recent poll 1 0 showed that almost 85% of all respondents think that scientists make a valuable contribution to society and influence public opinion. Thus, the scientific community should not be complacent about statements in the press that “some scientists” engage in cloning research “to achieve honors and money” or characterize scientists as “biozealots who, however misguided, are putting their money where their mouth is”.4

The danger of not responding is that such statements can slowly and imperceptibly begin to erode the public’s positive image of scientists and biomedical research. What the press says about scientists and their research and how we respond can make an enormous difference in decisions about the regulation of biomedical research.

As the Government considers playing a greater role in the regulation of scientific research, scientists, their professional societies and scientific coalitions 1 1 should re-examine how effective we are in educating the public and elected officials about our scientific goals regarding human cloning research. We need to be clear that our research activities incorporate a high ethical standard (i.e., respecting human life and protecting the rights of individuals), hold the promise of significant medical benefits and always examine potential health risks. Government can play a role in formulating regulatory guidelines but should not ban all aspects of human cloning research. Banning research infringes on the freedom of scientific inquiry, and sets a dangerous precedent that would deprive society of essential new ways to cure disease, prolong life, or relieve suffering.

—John D. Loike, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

  1. National Bioethics Advisory Commission Report. Cloning Human Beings, June 1997.
  2. Andrews, L.B. and Rosenow, L. Cloning Position Paper of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology. Delgado, R. and Millen, D.R. “God, Galileo and Government: Toward Constitutional Protection for Scientific Inquiry.” Washington Law Review 53:349-404, 1978.
  3. HR 1644 and HR 2172. See also Science. 292:1037, 2001.
  4. Kass, L.R. Why we should ban human cloning now. Preventing a brave new world. The New Republic. May 21, pg 30-39, 2001.
  5. Time Feb. 19, pg 55, 2001.
  6. The question asked was, “Is it a good idea to clone human beings?”
  7. Congress considers cloning ban. The Associated Press. Thursday, March 29, 2001
  8. Jaenisch, R. and I. Wilmut, Don’t Clone Humans! Science 291:2552-2552, 2001.
  9. Serafini, P. Outcome and follow-up of children born after IVF-surrogacy. Hum. Reprod. Update. 7:23-7, 2001.
  10. Science 292:1021, 2001
  11. For example, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research includes the American Society for Cell Biology, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Harvard University.


WICB Meets at the ASCB Office

The Women in Cell Biology Committee held its Spring meeting June 12 at the ASCB offices in Bethesda. The recruitment of new members Leslie Leinwand, Manuela MartinsGreen, Randy Schekman and Jean Schwarzbauer was announced.

WICB’s Annual Meeting programs were reviewed. Table topics for the Careers Discussion and Networking Lunch, co-sponsored with the Education Committee, were refined based on experience and participant advice. The Evening Program this year will be on Dealing With Difficult People & Situations. Award nominations for the Junior and Senior ASCB/WICB Awards are being accepted through August 1. Awards will be presented at the beginning of the Evening Program (rather than at the Lunch as in recent years).

Members discussed at length ways of making the Resource Bureau, which is currently available on the WICB page of the ASCB website, more accessible to review panels, study section staff, and search and program committees seeking excellent women scientists. The Bureau lists prominent women scientists in a variety of fields who recommend other women scientists.

WICB Column Editor Maureen Brandon reviewed the remainder of the scheduled topics for 2001 and received many suggestions for new topics and authors for next year. ASCB members are encouraged to submit suggestions for articles to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Members suggested compiling and publishing selected WICB articles since the initiation of the ASCB Newsletter feature in 1995. The Committee is developing the initiative by choosing columns for inclusion, identifying sponsors and engaging a graphic designer.

Members Elizabeth Marincola and Sue Shafer reported on the ADVANCE Leadership Award application submitted to the NSF this Spring. If funded, the grant will fund two workshops built on the AXXS’99 Conference hosted by the ASCB in 1999.


2001 WICB Members

Zena Werb (Chair)
Sally Amero
Maureen Brandon
Virginetta Cannon (ad hoc)
Daniela Corda (ad hoc)
Elaine Fuchs (ex officio)
Caroline Kane
Leslie Leinwand
Elizabeth Marincola
Manuela Martins-Green
Sandra Masur
Randy Schekman
Jean Schwarzbauer
W. Sue Shafer
Roger Sloboda (ad hoc)
Mary Ann Stepp
Julie Theriot
Thea Tlsty
Leana Topper
Sue Wick
Yixian Zheng


The ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee Presents 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


Call for Nominations WICB Career Recognition Awards

The WICB Committee recognizes outstanding achievements in cell biology by presenting two Career Recognition Awards at the ASCB Annual Meeting. The Junior Award is given to a woman in an early stage of her career (assistant professor or equivalent) who has made exceptional scientific contributions to cell biology and exhibits the potential for continuing a high level of scientific endeavor while fostering the career development of young scientists. The Senior Award is given to a woman or man in a later career stage (full professor or equivalent) whose outstanding scientific achievements are coupled with a longstanding record of support for women in science and by mentorship of both men and women in scientific careers.

To submit a nomination for a 2001 Career Recognition Award, please provide: for the Senior Award, a letter of nomination, curriculum vitae of the candidate and a maximum of 5 letters of support; for the Junior Award, a letter of nomination, curriculum vitae of the candidate, and a maxiumum of 3 letters of support. A complete packet of materials should be sent to Trina Armstrong at the ASCB National Office: 8120 Woodmont Ave., Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Nominations must be received by August 1.


First Annual Member Memorial Award For Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows

For Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows
The ASCB invites nominations for the Member Memorial Award for 2001. The Award was established with member donations in memory of deceased colleagues. The winner will be selected on merit and will receive travel and per diem expenses for the 41st ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

The student or post-doc or their advisor should submit a one-page research statement, a list of publications if any, and the advisor’s letter of recommendation. Post-docs may also submit the recommendation of their graduate student advisor.

Application deadline is August 1, 2001. Submit applications to the ASCB Member Memorial Award Selection Committee, 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Duplicate applications from graduate students may be submitted for the Gilula and Member Memorial Awards.


First Annual Norton B. Gilula Award For Undergraduate and Graduate Students

The ASCB invites nominations for the Norton B. Gilula Award for 2001. The Award was established in memory of longtime Society member and Journal of Cell Biology Editor-in-Chief Norton B. “Bernie” Gilula.

The winner will be selected on merit and will receive travel and per diem expenses for the 41st ASCB Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The Award is funded by an annual grant from the Rockefeller University Press.

The student or advisor should submit a one-page research statement, a list of publications if any, and the advisor’s letter of recommendation.

Application deadline is August 1, 2001. Submit applications to the ASCB Gilula Award Selection Committee, 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Duplicate applications from graduate students may be submitted for the Gilula and Member Memorial Awards.


Fill Your Job Opening through the ASCB Placement Service
  • Advertise your position on the Internet and to the nearly 9,000 participants at the ASCB Annual Meeting, December 8 – 12, 2001 in Washington, D.C.
  • Hold private interviews at the ASCB Annual Meeting.
  • Obtain detailed information about candidates seeking jobs in cell biology and related fields.


MAC Receives Major Grant, Looks Critically at Programs

The ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee grant from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences Minority Access to Research Careers program was funded for $228,657 for the coming year.

The grant enables MAC activities that were discussed at the semi-annual Committee meeting held recently in Bethesda. J.K. Haynes chaired the meeting with Vice Chair Donella Wilson. Also in attendance were Committee members Virginetta Cannon, Maria del Pilar Corena, Dan Chavez, Willian Eckberg, Vincent Hollis, Maria Elena Zavala and ASCB staff members Dot Doyle and Elizabeth Marincola.

Dan Chavez will assume the organization of the MAC poster session, succeeding retired long-time MAC member Don Kimmel; former ASCB officers will be invited to serve on the Poster Review Committee at the Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Donella Wilson reported on the visit by members of Council to Capitol Hill in the Spring. Their Senate and House meetings emphasized the promising results of biomedical research.

Committee members expressed concern about the decline in participation in Marine Biological Laboratory courses and the Histochemical Society technical workshop by minority students and scientists. On a bright note, they learned that minority student applications at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories were up. The MAC determined to expand the portfolio of programs qualifying for minority awards to other excellent programs such as at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.

The Committee is developing a questionnaire for former MAC program award recipients to determine their current scientific interests. It is hoped that renewed contact may also attract past awardees to a more active role in Committee and Society activities. C o m m i t t e e members were enthusiastic about the Annual Meeting Mentoring Symposium being planned by Maria del Pilar Corena with Aria Miller and Tracie Gibson. Presentations will focus on using the Internet as a mentoring resource.

The Linkage Program is a new initiative, which provides partial salary relief to Minority Serving Institution faculty in exchange for their recruitment of participants to MAC activities. Preliminary data confirmed that MSIs continue to underutilitze MAC programs; with Linkage Fellows in place at seven institutions, the Committee expects MSI participation to grow.


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. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)
    WWW.CELL BIOLOGY first summarized this site in July of 1998. The site continues to grow and is worth another visit. To quote from the site: “In summer 1997, more than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group to make hundreds of federally supported education resources available at this web site.” The homepage has a subject search engine and ten broad topic areas. By selecting “Science,” the user may access nine broad link areas including biology, ecology, pharmacology and oceanography. More than a 100 links are provided to quality federally-maintained sites with education themes. An example of the possibilities includes a NSF-funded site for real-time on-line science experiments aimed at younger children. Its worth a look and it serves as a model for what might be done for higher education. When DNA is entered into the search engine, 705 hits result. The first one is a Cowrie DNA sequencing exhibit that is quite nice for a variety of venues. The subject “PCR” yielded 102 hits and “embryology” resulted in 40 hits. The links fill the educational spectrum and with a little time the user can probably find something of use for the classroom. The homepage also has an area that will take students into a resource area with more than a 100 paths to sites specifically aimed at the younger student. From a CIA page for kids to materials about cancer prepared especially for children, this area of the site has a lot to offer. This URL provides a way to discover the vast educational resources offered by the government.
  2. EurekAlert
    This Web site has been established by AAAS to promote news about scientific advances. To quote from the site: “EurekAlert! is a centralized World Wide Web site offering free online access to the latest research findings in science, medicine, technology, and social sciences. The service is managed by the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science and was developed with guidance from an advisory committee of science writers and public information officers.” It averages 22 news releases each day. Again to quote from the site: “Contributors include universities and colleges, scientific and medical journals, companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.” There is a four-part link section to an extensive (hundreds) group of science information and distribution sources. The homepage also provides paths to visual libraries and to formal references such as a genetic term dictionary; just the sort of thing that a science writer might need if preparing a story. When the term “sonic hedgehog” was entered into the news release search engine, 41 information releases were retrieved. Although the focus of this site is on press and information officers, for an educator who wants to interject cutting edge information into the classroom, this is a very good place to begin. It would be an excellent starting place for students looking for contemporary term paper ideas as well.
  3. AMHN Genomic RevolutionThe American Museum of Natural History has established a special exhibition on the “Genomic Revolution” just a year after the international announcement about the “completion” of the human genome. The site summarizes the thrust of their genomics exhibit by dividing the exhibit into nine parts including genetic identity, our genome, and changing our genes. An interesting set of predictions is given concerning what might be the future results of the genomic revolution. The resource section links to the URL listed below.

    Human Genome Project Information
    This site, maintained by the Department of Energy, yields an in-depth overview of the genome project. The homepage is organized into a large multipart presentation of the project. The education section is especially enticing and offers links for teachers and students alike to extensive educational materials. There is even a section providing paths to genomic information in Spanish. Both the American Museum’s and the Dept. of Energy sites lead an interested viewer into an explanation of the genomic revolution.

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


Are You Ready for the Next Step?

Find your next position through the ASCB Placement Service

  • Advertise your qualifications on the Internet and to the 9,000 participants at the ASCB Annual Meeting, this December 8 – 12, 2001 in Washington, D.C.
  • Hold private interviews at the ASCB Annual Meeting.
  • Obtain access to nearly 300 job postings in cell biology and related fields.


Members In The News

Marilyn Farquhar of the University of California San Diego, former Society President and an ASCB member since 1961, received the 2001 Rous-Whipple Award for distinguished research contributions from the American Society of Investigative Pathology.


Grants & Opportunities

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.

Call for Nominations. The National Academy of Sciences is accepting nominations for the NAS Award in Molecular Biology. Deadline is August 31.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is offering lecturing/research awards in biological sciences for the 2002-03 academic year. Deadline is August 1.


MBC Accepting Manuscript Submissions Electronically

Molecular Biology of the Cell, the flagship journal of The American Society for Cell Biology, is now accepting papers through its new electronic submission system.

Authors are encouraged to submit their papers through the new system, which can be accessed online. Instructions to Authors are provided.

Questions or comments regarding this new system can be directed to the Managing Editor.

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