November 2009

An Invigorated Minority Affairs Committee

Infused with new members and fresh ideas, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s minority affairs committee is embarking upon several ambitious initiatives aimed at fostering communication among constituents, building upon relationships with other organizations and enlivening its scientific programming.

In July, three new members joined the minority affairs team. Energized and ready to serve, the committee since then has met monthly via teleconference and has started redefining its objectives and strategy.

A Specific Mission with a Broad Impact

Since the committee was formed in 1971, minority groups have been defined on the basis of race and ethnicity. Today, the average age of the ASBMB membership is about 55, making students, postdocs and junior scientists a significant minority group for our society.

For the committee to spearhead initiatives and develop programming that will include all of ASBMB’s underrepresented groups, we need to hear from our constituents. We need to know who we represent and about their needs.

That’s why we have developed a registry for minority and young scientists, mentors and advocates.

We hope it will create a community that will help us develop and vet our agenda, and we hope it will serve as a rich resource of contacts for those orchestrating activities, such as meetings and workshops, at ASBMB and other arms of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Creating Opportunities by Facilitating Networking

There is no doubt that who knows you is more important than who you think you know and what you know. Invariably, finding people to plan and/or speak at our annual meetings requires that someone on the meetings committee know you or someone you know.

Hypertension: Treatment, Disparities, and Molecular Mechanisms

Annual Meeting Symoposia Sponsored by the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee

Symposium: Molecular Mechanisms of Hypertension

  • Hormonal Regulation of the Sodium Chloride Co-transporter, Robert Hoover, University of Chicago
  • Epithelial Sodium Channels and Hypertension, Thomas R. Kleyman, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Regulation of ENaC Trafficking, David Pearce, University of California, San Francisco

Symposium: Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypertension

  • The Importance of Combination Therapy in the Treatment of HTN, Kenneth A. Jamerson, University of Michigan Health System
  • Paradigms for the Diagnosis and Treatment of HTN, John M. Flack, Wayne State University
  • Pre-hypertension: Diagnosis and Treatment, Shawna D. Nesbitt, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Symposium: Disparities in Hypertension Treatment and Sequelae

  • Gender and Age Disparities in Hypertension, Lawrence Agodoa, National Institutes of Health
  • Disparities in Cardiovascular and Renal Complications of Hypertension, Janice P. Lea, Emory University School of Medicine
  • RAAS Inhibitor Containing Antihypertensive Regimens in African Americans: A Look at the Evidence, Jackson T. Wright, Jr., Case Western Reserve University

This circumstance extends to most prestigious professional opportunities, such as editorial board, study section and steering committee membership, to name a few.

Beginning this year, on April 25, we will sponsor a networking reception before the annual meeting is in full swing to foster additional and more substantive social and scientific interactions during the meeting.

We have partnered with minority affairs committees from other societies that will be at Experimental Biology 2010 to maximize scientific diversity of those attending the reception.

Regardless of demographics, everyone is welcome.

If you’re interested in increasing the diversity of your graduate student and postdoctoral population and/or your faculty, you should be there. If you want to share your enthusiasm, wisdom and experience with aspiring scientists, you should be there. If you want to contribute to the vitality and diversity of ASBMB membership, you should be there.

A New Twist on Our Scientific Programming

Committee-sponsored scientific sessions at the annual meeting traditionally have highlighted diseases with racial and ethnic disparities. Now, our selection of topics is driven primarily by two factors: breadth of the public-health problem and richness of the science driving the molecular description of the disease and the development of therapeutic options.

The topic for 2010 is hypertension, and the sessions are as follows:

  • molecular basis for disease
  • diagnosis and treatment, with emphasis on the science underlying diagnostic tests and therapeutics
  • disparities, including those caused by gender, age and/or health status

We hope this format will lead to new ways to collaborate with other FASEB societies on scientific programming.

The vitality of ASBMB demands that more attention be given to the integration of minority and young scientists into society activities. The committee is well-positioned to assist the society with this challenge. Please help by signing up on the registry today!

Craig E. Cameron is the Paul Berg professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at The Pennsylvania State University. He can be reached at

found= true306