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ASCB Newsletter - August 2003

Whitfield Named 12th MBC Awardee

Michael Whitfield, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Pat Brown at Stanford, was named by the Molecular Biology of the Cell Editorial Board as recipient of the 12th MBC Paper of the Year Award.

Whitfield is the first author of the article Identification of Genes Periodically Expressed in the Human Cell Cycle and Their Expression in Tumors, published in the June 2002 issue of MBC.

Whitfield will present his research at the minisymposium on Cell Cycle Regulation at the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco this December.


Hutchison to Receive Alberts Award

Nancy Hutchison of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle will receive the sixth annual Bruce Alberts Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science Education. Hutchison serves as Director of the Hutchinson Center’s Science Education Partnership, a professional development program for Washington secondary school teachers that she co-founded in 1991. She also helped to found HutchLab in 1999, a program to expose high school students to biomedical research at the Hutchinson Center.

Announcing the Award, ASCB Education Committee Chair Ken Miller said, “neither of these remarkable and effective partnerships would have been possible without Dr. Hutchison’s pioneering vision and leadership … [she] has set a powerful example of how scientists can encourage and nurture the next generation of researchers.”

The Award will be presented at the 43rd ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco.


ASCB-Promega Award to Gertler

Frank Gertler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Biology will receive the fifth annual ASCBPromega Award for Early Career Life Scientists at the ASCB Annual Meeting in December.

Gertler’s research is focused on the mechanisms underlying cytoskeletal remodeling events that drive cell movement. Controlling cell motility has implications in such processes as wound healing, immune cell homing, axonal pathfinding, and preventing birth defects, cancer and other diseases that can result when pathways that regulate cell movement and shape are perturbed.

Gertler will present the Award Lecture during the 43rd ASCB Annual Meeting Symposium on Cell Motility, on Wednesday, December 17, at 8:00 a.m.


ASCB Names Visiting Professors

Since 1997, the ASCB MAC NIH/NIGMS/Minority Access to Research Careers program has supported 28 visiting faculty from underrepresented Minority-Serving Institutions to work in the laboratories of ASCB host scientists. This year, 14 visiting professors were supported for one year and seven additional professors were supported for two years. Professors spend up to ten weeks in host labs, refining research techniques and teaching strategies while developing long-term collaborations with research-intensive institutions.


MAC MBL Students Honored

The ASCB honored ten 2003 ASCB/MBL MAC students at a lunch hosted by ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee Chair Donella Wilson.

The students, who received competitive awards from the ASCB through grant funds provided by the NIH/NIGMS/MARC, and their courses were:

  • Juan Espinosa of Stanford for Neurobiology
  • Wendy French of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for Physiology
  • Melissa Green of Morehouse School of Medicine for Frontiers in Reproduction
  • Crystal Icenhour of Mayo Clinic for Molecular Mycology
  • Ervin Johnson of University of California, Davis for Neurobiology
  • Khameeka Kitt of the University of Arizona, for Physiology
  • Jacqueline Moustakas of University of California, Berkeley, for Embryology
  • Chiatogu Onyewuu of Duke University for Molecular Mycology
  • Chris Rowland of Emory University for Neural Systems & Behavior
  • Ari Winbush of University of Oregon for Neural Systems & Behavior

Also representing the ASCB were former ASCB President Morris Karnovsky, former ASCB Secretary and E.E. Just Award recipient George Langford, Education Committee member Roger Sloboda, Public Policy Committee member Robert Palazzo and E.E. Just Award recipient David Burgess. They were joined by Society members Michael Cummings, Barbara Ehrlich, Scott Fraser, Hans Laufer and Melvin Spiegel, and MBL President John Dowling, Director & CEO William Speck, Director of Education Lenny Dawidowicz, and Education Council Member Janis Weeks.


Friday Harbor Laboratory Hosts MAC Scholars

Andrew Clark of the University of Maryland, College Park, Jaquan Horton of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dana Jackson of Paine College and Anthony Rodriguez of Florida State University were supported to do research this summer at the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington by the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee. The interns in marine research at the Friday Harbor Labs were paired with research scientists for ten weeks on the Friday Harbor campus. MAC support has allowed FHL to nearly double the number of participants in the Blinks Program in four years.


BSCB Names Outstanding Young Scientists

The British Society for Cell Biology has named Karen Groot, a graduate student in the laboratory of Fiona Watt at Cancer Research UK in London, as the Young UK Cell Biologist for 2003.

Groot’s research is on the structural and functional roles of two proteins, envoplakin and periplakin, in the epidermis. The function of these proteins is to form a scaffold at the plasma membrane, which sets up the formation of the cornified envelope (CE). CEs are the tough structures produced in differentiating keratinocytes which function as the physical and water barrier of the skin. Her winning abstract is titled, “Molecular interactions of periplakin in the epidermis.”

Groot will attend the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco to present her work.


Graduate Students: Work for Annual Meeting Registration, Social Ticket

Students who are interested in volunteering time (up to six hours) in exchange for free Annual Meeting registration and a free ticket to the ASCB Social may send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Priority is given to students who are ASCB members or member applicants. Interested ASCB post-doc members may be selected after students are placed.

The American Society for Cell Biology 8120 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 750 Bethesda, MD 20814-2762 (301) 347-9300; fax (301) 347-9310.


Teaching with Controversy: How to Hook Students with Science

Workshops to be held at the 2003 Annual Meeting
Controversy has an incredible power to fascinate us and grab our attention. When confronted with controversy, we cannot resist asking ourselves—What are the issues? Who are the stakeholders? What are their agendas? Which side makes the most sense to us as individuals? Scientific controversies are an excellent tool for motivating students of all ages to learn about scientific issues and to practice their skills in evidence-based decision making.

Meeting attendees involved in science education will have the opportunity to discuss strategies for managing scientific controversy in the classroom at two events at the ASCB Annual Meeting in December. A Saturday afternoon workshop will explore methods for engaging undergraduate students and others in such public policy debates as genetically modified foods, stem cell research and human cloning. Presenters will include Rachel Fink (Mt. Holyoke College), Marcia Linn (UC Berkeley), and Paul Matsudaira (MIT).

ASCB Education Committee Chair Kenneth Miller notes, “biology has changed from a purely descriptive science into one that has the technical capability to transform the world around us in profound and far-reaching ways. Such power engenders controversy, and, properly handled, controversy can be a force that drives student interest and improves the effectiveness of science education.”

At Sunday’s K-12 Science Education Partnership luncheon, Eugenie Scott, 1999 ASCB Bruce Alberts Awardee and Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, will share her expertise on the challenges of teaching evolution. Following her address, a hands-on workshop activity will model evolution instruction, and educators interested in K-12 education will have the opportunity to discuss effective ways to establish partnerships between scientists and K-12 teachers and students.

ASCB Education Committee member Bob Bloodgood remarks, “science education is a continuum; what could be more exciting and productive than promoting dialog and collaboration among science educators at all levels?”

The workshop and lunch are popular annual events sponsored by the ASCB Education Committee; this year, interested ASCB members are encouraged to attend both of these related sessions to share their educational challenges.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, December 13, from 1:00 – 5:30 pm, and the lunch will be held on Sunday, December 14, from 12:00 noon – 2:30 pm. Preregistration is recommended as attendance will be limited to facilitate discussion.


Member Suggestions for 2004 Annual Meeting Program Welcome

The ASCB Program Committee welcomes suggestions from ASCB members for topics and speakers for the 44th Annual Meeting, to be held in Washington, D.C. from December 4-8, 2004. Recommendations received by November 30, 2003 can be considered.

Alternatively, members may propose their own scientific sessions as Special Interest Subgroups (to be held Saturday, December 4, 2004) or Concurrent Symsposia (to be held Wednesday, December 8, 2004.) The deadline for submission of proposals for Special Interest Subgroups or Concurrent Symposia will coincide with the abstract submission deadline.


Members In The News

R. John Collier of Harvard Medical School, an ASCB member since 1991, will receive the 13th Annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Infectious Diseases Research.

Jerry Honts of Drake University, an ASCB member since 1997, received the Distinguished Iowa Science Teaching Award at the 115th annual meeting of the Iowa Academy of Science.

Gerald Rubin of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, an ASCB member since 1990, and Allan Spradling of the HHMI and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, an ASCB member since 1991, were co-winners of the 2003 George W. Beadle Award from the Genetics Society of America.

Joan Steitz of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Yale University, an ASCB member since 1983, received the 2003 Excellence in Science Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Joseph Takahashi of the the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Northwestern University, an ASCB member since 2000, won the German Biochemical Society’s 2003 Eduard Buchner Prize.


Call for Volunteer Editor of ASCB Newsletter WICB Column

The Women in Cell Biology Committee welcomes expressions of interest in the position of WICB Column Editor for the ASCB Newsletter. Responsibilities include, in coordination with newsletter editorial staff, conceptualizing topics, recruiting authors, ensuring timely submission of monthly articles, and editing submissions.

Send statement of interest to: The American Society for Cell Biology This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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

Juan Bonifacino
Eloise Clark
Ulrike Lichti
Kenneth Yamada
Saul Zackson


Letters To The Editor

WICB Appreciation

To the Editor

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the WICB column in the ASCB Newsletter. I run a mentoring program and also have my own trainees. Over and over again I have referred these students and postdocs to your columns, and now to your book on Career Advice for Life Scientists. Thanks for doing such a good job with this.

Cheryl S. Watson
University of Texas Medical Branch

Nature Defends Access Advances

To the Editor:

In the February 2002 issue of your newsletter, the ASCB made a case for free access to scientific information. Your members will therefore be interested in a new free online resource that is the result of a partnership between the Alliance for Cellular Signaling (AfCS) and Nature Publishing Group (NPG).

The Signaling Gateway provides three main services:

  • Signaling Update gives an overview of the latest research in cell signaling using accessible digests written by NPG editors. It also provides free access to a rolling collection of selected research papers from NPG journals.
  • The Data Center is a public repository of primary data from the Alliance’s own large-scale cellular signaling experiments. Data are placed here almost as soon as they are gathered and accompanying documentation describes in detail how the experiments were conducted. The research community is encouraged to make use of these data in their own research and publications.
  • The Molecule Pages section is a database of key facts about proteins involved in intracellular signaling (currently about 3,500 molecules but this number is growing.) Sequence, motif, protein family and other key information for all of these proteins is collated from other online databases and updated monthly. In addition, some 900 or so molecules have expert-written summaries. Over the coming months, these will be supplemented by author-entered data, which will include highly structured information about the states, interactions, subcellular localizations and functions of each protein. The Molecule Pages will be peer-reviewed (in a process run by NPG) and the resultant publications will be formally citable.

Inevitably, the process of creating such a large and multifaceted resource has been challenging. The Molecule Pages, in particular, have proved far more difficult to get right than anyone envisioned at the outset. Difficulties have included the design of a database schema capable of capturing extremely diverse and often ill-defined biological information; the creation of authoring interfaces that provide access to the full richness of the database whilst remaining intuitive for biologists; and the logistical challenges of coordinating scientific, editorial and development teams separated by areas of expertise, geography and time zones.

The site is currently being supported by NPG, the NIH and commercial sponsors. The AfCS and NPG remain committed to keeping it as a free resource and will therefore need to continue to seek sponsorship income.

Nature Publishing Group is keen to work with the scientific community to offer resources such as the Signaling Gateway, which we feel is a good example of what can be achieved through partnerships between professional publishers and the scientific community.

Jayne Marks Nature Publishing Group
Alfred G. Gilman UT Southwestern Medical Center


Grants & Opportunities

NIGMS Grants. The NIGMS requests applications for the Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research in cell biology and biophysics, genetics and developmental biology, human physiology in trauma, burn, inflammation, and multiorgan failure, and pharmacology and anesthesiology. Letter of intent deadline: September 3. Application deadline: October 14.

NAS Call for Nominations. The National Academy of Sciences is accepting nominations for the Alexander Hollaender Award, the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal, the NAS Award in Molecular Biology, the NAS Award in Neurosciences, and the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal. Deadline: September 12.

MARC Grants. The NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers is accepting applications for predoctoral fellowships. Application deadline: April 5 and December 5.

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