ASCB Strategic Plan 2017-2022

From the Executive Director

ASCB is a vibrant and robust organization that has grown over the last 50 years to include over 8,000 members and touch many more in the scientific community through our meetings, journals, and programs. We have always stood for the best science and education, strong evidence-based policy, and inclusiveness in the scientific workforce.

In recent years, a number of trends have been affecting ASCB. New tools and interdisciplinary collaborations are expanding the study of cell biology, funding support for the scientific workforce is changing the career paths for early career scientists, and opportunities to apply new discoveries are challenging public policy. For ASCB to remain necessary to our members, we must address these trends. Fortunately, we have many strengths to build on, including a dedicated group of volunteers, a strong reputation in the advocacy area, and the broad nature of cell biology, which lends itself to cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Starting in 2016 with data collection and interviews of members, I convened a strategic planning effort that has involved volunteers from across the organization, who have identified priorities for ASCB to focus on over the next several years.

ASCB has put reserves away for many years, so we are well positioned to make the investments we need to launch new initiatives that will take us to the next level. I am excited by this plan and look forward to seeing it in action.

Erika C. Shugart, Ph.D.
CEO, American Society for Cell Biology

I. Overview of Strategic Priorities

Centrality of Cell Biology Promote the centrality of cell biology to diversify membership, expand partnerships with adjacent disciplines and societies, and help others see themselves as cell biologists.
Promotion of Inclusiveness and Transparency Further democratize the society by ensuring leadership and decision making reflect the broad range of membership and their interests and priorities.
Leadership in Science Outreach Expand leadership in science outreach, including science literacy for the public and advocacy/public policy.
Career Development and Enhancement Become the essential provider of career development for members in each career phase and for the many career paths cell biologists take.
Financial Stability Grow and diversify funding of ASCB.

II. Strategic Priorities: Centrality of Cell Biology

Goal: Promote the centrality of cell biology to diversify membership, expand partnerships with adjacent disciplines and societies, and help others see themselves as cell biologists.

What this strategic priority means to the organization

ASCB’s vitality and influence depend on the ability to attract new members while remaining relevant to existing members. As cell biology evolves, so must ASCB. Recognizing that science is increasingly a multi-disciplinary endeavor, and that everyone benefits when scientists from complementary fields interact, ASCB should define itself as broadly as possible and position itself as a facilitator of cross-disciplinary interactions. Particularly important areas for growth are in clinically relevant research and industry research. A successful effort to draw in members from new disciplines will result in a win-win situation for the society and its members, old and new.

Key Actions

1. Pursue the following scientific areas for expansion of membership and/or partnership
with other organizations. These areas should be reviewed by Council every 2-3 years. We
will pursue these groups through key actions 2 through 4 in the strategy.
Primary areas to be explored

  • Medicine, particularly the cell biology of diseases (with emphasis on cancer
    and cell biology of neurons)
  • Biophysics and Quantitative Approaches to Cell Biology
  • Cell Biology in the Context of Tissues
  • Bioengineering/Synthetic Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Big Data
  • Nontraditional Research Organisms

Secondary areas to be explored

  • Artificial Intelligence/Image Analysis
  • Areas targeted by emerging initiatives including NIH 4D nucleome project, NCI
    emphasis on inter-organelle communication, and cell atlas initiatives from Allen
    Institute, Broad, and Chan Zuckerberg
  • Aging
  • Omics and Big Data
  • Immunology
  • Prokaryotic Cell Biology
  • Systems Biology
  • Metabolism
  • Mechanobiology

2. Grow the meeting and sustain members in those areas by having a sustained focus on selected overarching scientific topics at the Annual Meeting to maintain core cell biology while expanding into the priority science areas.
3. Develop collaborations with other organizations (like the ASCB-EMBO collaboration) to encourage cross-disciplinary cooperation, including the possibility of joint meetings with other societies.  See suggestion of joint Doorstep Meeting under 2.1.1
4. Use thematic issues of Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) to establish ASCB as the publishing destination for new or emerging fields.
5. Enhance ASCB’s ability to liaise with the biotech/pharma sector and increase our level of sophistication in understanding opportunities and scientific culture in bio/pharma.

II. Strategic Priorities: Promotion of Inclusiveness and Transparency

Goal: Further democratize the society by ensuring leadership and decision making reflect the broad range of membership and their interests and priorities.

What this strategic priority means to the organization

ASCB has long aspired to be inclusive and represent a diverse range of scientific fields and backgrounds. Furthermore, ASCB has a reputation of being a strong advocate for the inclusion of underrepresented demographic groups in decision making, with committees such as International Affairs, Minorities Affairs, and Women in Cell Biology. To remain a vibrant professional society that is looking toward the cell biology of the future, ASCB needs to engage individuals across the entire spectrum of cell biology and the many scientific fields that overlap with cell biology. We believe that the promotion of inclusiveness and transparency, and communication to the membership about these efforts, would make ASCB more welcoming to (and more representative of) a wider range of cell biologists. Further democratization of ASCB will include encouraging and making it possible for a wider spectrum of members to participate on its committees, speak at meetings, and assume leadership positions.

Key Actions
1. Create small units within the society in order to increase member involvement in ASCB by providing programs that enable them to find and interact with other members.
2. Change nomination and committee recruitment process to increase transparency, member involvement, and inclusiveness.
3. Create a leadership development program for members seeking volunteer leadership roles within the society.
4. Change processes for Annual Meeting Program creation to increase member involvement.
5. Revise ASCB bylaws to enable structures and processes that are open, transparent, and increase opportunities for member involvement.
6. Solicit membership input through a survey.

II. Strategic Priorities: Leadership in Science Outreach

Goal: Expand leadership in science outreach, including science literacy for the public and advocacy/public policy.

What this strategic priority means to the organization

The ASCB recognizes and is steadfastly and deeply committed to the scholarship of engagement and public outreach. We believe that scientists should embrace the idea that they have a responsibility to the public to disseminate knowledge and to be an active partner in solving broader societal challenges. ASCB is viewed as a leader in science policy, advocacy, and outreach. However due to changes in the media and political landscape some of our approaches from the past are not as effective as they once were. We aim to address these changes and develop remedies so that our membership can participate in the scholarship of engagement.

Key Actions
1. Promote science outreach as a core value of ASCB and its members
2. Expand ASCB’s policy and advocacy voice
3. Create evidence-based science communication resources to be used with public audiences.
4. Strengthen ASCB’s digital presence (social media, electronic communication, and website) to increase reach and impact of the outreach and policy programs.

II. Strategic Priorities: Career Development and Enhancement

Goal: Become the essential provider of career development for members in each career phase and for the many career paths cell biologists take.

What this strategic priority means to the organization

In the changing scientific landscape, it is more critical than ever that cell biologists across career phases and workplaces have access to resources, services, and networks that help them advance and be more effective in their professional lives. ASCB is ideally positioned to provide information that raises members’ awareness of career options, training that builds members’ professional skills across career phases, and connections that enable members to pursue diverse career paths that take full advantage of their scientific expertise

Key Actions
1. Increase coherence of career development offerings.
2. Create professional development resources for a network of advisors and other mentors.
3. Expand and coalesce career and professional development offerings at the Annual Meeting
4. Create professional development resources for mid-career and established scientists
5. Develop deliverables to support career development and enhancement year-round

II. Strategic Priorities: Financial Stability

Goal: Grow and diversify funding of ASCB.

What this strategic priority means to the organization

A sound financial footing is needed for an organization to flourish. For ASCB to achieve and maintain a budget that has enough sustainable revenue to support its programs, it must both grow the traditional revenue sources of membership, meetings, and journals, as well as expand into untapped and new sources of revenue for both specific programmatic support and unrestricted funds. For staff and volunteers to have the bandwidth to be able to pursue new opportunities for funding and grow revenue sources, the overall portfolio of programs must be carefully considered to maximize both responsiveness to member needs and overall appeal. It will require creativity, flexibility and persistence to ensure that ASCB has a sound financial future.

Key Actions
1. Conduct a regular review of non-revenue generating programs to analyze their competitiveness, member need, and quality in order to determine the overall portfolio of programs for ASCB.
2. Increase revenue from existing products in primary revenue drivers (membership, meetings, publications) by 10% by 2022.
3. Increase revenue from other sources
4. Launch new initiatives to expand revenue from primary revenue drivers (membership, meetings, publications) that aim to be profitable by 2022.
5. Explore and, if viable, establish new revenue sources.

III. Organizational Support

Goal: Adequately support implementation of strategy through a number of platform building activities.

What this means for the organization

For the aforementioned strategic priorities to be successful, the organization needs to undertake several supporting actions. These are cross-cutting actions that will provide a solid foundation for the rest of the strategic plan.

Key Actions
1. Strengthen digital communication through improvements and updates to the ASCB website.
2. Track and record data to follow the metrics.
3. Recast the committee budget process to be strategic priority centric.
4. Pilot and, if cost-effective, establish a headquarters fellowship program.
5. Construct and implement a regular member survey.

VII. Recognition to Planning Teams

This important work could not have been completed without the diligence and candor of the following groups. A mix of member volunteers, Council members, and staff, these planning teams worked together to address pressing challenges while keeping their eyes firmly on a bright future for ASCB.

Centrality of Cell Biology Strategic Planning Subgroup
David Drubin (chair)
Diane Barber
Tony Hyman
Wallace Marshall
Ira Mellman
Ora Weisz
Mark Leader

Promotion of Inclusiveness and Transparency Strategic Planning Subgroup
Sue Wick (chair)
Bruno Da Rocha-Azevedo
Gary Gorbsky
Ian Macara
Yixian Zheng

Outreach Strategic Planning Subgroup
Jodi Nunnari (chair)
Simon Atkinson
Franklin Carerro-Martinez
Connie Lee
Lee Ligon
Denise Montell
Kevin Wilson
Anne Sprang

Career Development and Enhancement Strategic Planning Subgroup
Erin Dolan (chair)
Sydella Blatch
Bob Goldstein
Pinar Gurel
Veronica Segarra
Claire Walczak

Funding Strategic Planning Subgroup
Erika Shugart (chair)
Louise Campbell-Blair
Beth Esquerre
Rebecca Heald
Peter Walter

Strategic Planning Core Team
Pietro De Camilli
J.K. Haynes
Gary Gorbsky
Kathleen Green

2017 Council Members
Pietro De Camilli (President)
Gary Gorbsky (Treasurer)
Kathleen Green (Secretary)
Jodi Nunnari (President Elect)
Peter Walter (Past President)
Angelika Amon
Bob Goldstein
J.K. Haynes
Rebecca Heald
Erika Holzbaur
Tony Hyman
Wallace Marshall
Ira Mellman
Denise Montell
Samara Reck-Peterson
Anne Spang
Ora Weisz
Erika Shugart (CEO, Ex Officio)