February 2010

Looking Ahead…


As I mentioned in a blast e-mail to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Lipid Research Division members, we’ve come a long way since our inauguration in April of last year.  I would like to thank everyone involved in making this a real ASBMB division, especially ASBMB President Gregory A. Petsko, who was extremely supportive and helpful.  There are many scientists who have been instrumental in making the division work, but none of it would have been remotely possible without help and insight from Barbara Gordon, executive director of ASBMB.  Barbara, Hector Martinez (director of information technology), Nicole Kresge (ASBMB Today editor) and Steve Miller (director of finance) all have been truly invaluable at getting this division started.  Amazingly, Barbara continues to keep us on the right path, which is no easy task indeed! 

As we move into 2010, I’d like to summarize what we’ve accomplished in the past year:
• Thanks to the efforts of Membership Director Brian (Binks) Wattenberg, we now have slightly more than 400 members and still are growing. 

• The division now is involved with the ASBMB Annual Meeting and will be participating in the lipid theme in Anaheim, Calif., in April.

• A steering committee was formed and consists of the following:

Director Daniel M. Raben, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Yusuf A. Hannun, Medical University of South Carolina
Lina M. Obeid, Medical University of South Carolina
Brian (Binks) Wattenberg, University of Louisville School of Medicine
Timothy Hla, Weill Cornell Medical College
John York, Duke University Medical Center
Vytas Bankaitis, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

• Robert V. Stahelin, the division’s financial director, obtained funding from Avanti to launch our Young Investigator Award.  The first recipient, Sarah Keller of the University of Washington, will receive her award at the 2010 Annual Meeting. 

• We have formed an advocacy committee chaired by Yusuf Hannun.  The committee soon will begin its work to address funding issues in our community. 

• We’ve begun stronger collaborations with our international colleagues.  We have representatives in a number of countries, and Meetings Director Timothy Hla has begun discussions to initiate new international meetings. Our overseas representatives include:

 Gerrit van Meer, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
 Lucio Cocco, University of Bologna, Italy
 Pann-Ghill Suh, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea
 Hitoshi Yagisawa, University of Hyogo, Japan
 Rudi Zechner, University of Graz, Austria
 Isabel Merida, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, Spain
 Stuart Pitson, University of Adelaide, Australia
 Tony Futerman, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

• Rosalind Coleman is chairwoman of the Research Highlights section on our Lipid Corner Web site and continues to attract traffic to the site. 

• We have launched a collaboration with Nature’s Lipid Gateway.

• A job board has been created for employers and job seekers.

• We now have a calendar to let everyone know of upcoming meetings and events.

As this year begins, many of us are filled with the energy and enthusiasm needed to tackle our aspirations.  The LRD is no different.  We have many things to look forward to, and we plan to accomplish quite a bit.  For example, a primary focus of the Advocacy Committee will be to define our goals, objectives and strategies to increase investigator-initiated funding for lipid scientists.  This is one of the more important endeavors of the LRD, and it will receive the attention it needs.  Additionally, while we maintain our current trajectory and enhance our Lipid Corner Web site, we hope to continue our efforts to grow the Lipid Division, continue our Young Investigator Award, strengthen our growing international collaborations and institute a mechanism for electing officers at regular intervals. 

So, we’re off to another great start, and we hope this year will be as productive as the last. 

Daniel M. Raben (draben@jhmi.edu) is a professor of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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