Annual Meeting

Let’s meet to celebrate our passion for science

A letter from the 2022 annual meeting co-organizers
Vahe Bandarian Martha Cyert
By Vahe Bandarian and Martha Cyert
Sept. 23, 2021

We all took a lot for granted before March 2020, including the mad-dash preparations for a scientific conference: rushing to get that last piece of data and print a poster or prepare a talk. The thrill of getting to the conference site, the registration desk, the goodie bags and the opening night mixer. 

Scientists are not accustomed to the spotlight, but meetings made us feel like stars, if only briefly. We looked forward to that tap on the shoulder from an old friend or colleague, trying to get our attention to say hello, and the anticipation of connecting with people who could become our next lifelong science friends. We were eager for the rowdy late-night science discussions followed by the next day’s desperate search for early-morning coffee.

All this was taken from us abruptly in March 2020 when the world retreated into its shell. COVID-19 took a lot away from us. We lost friends and family. We lost touch. Many of us lost productivity and purpose. Some of us found new purpose in the challenges, however, and found a resourcefulness that might have evaded us our entire lives had it not been for the pandemic.

As co-organizers of the in-person 2022 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, we want to extend a huge welcome and urge you to put April 2-5, 2022, on your calendar. Get ready to dust off your carry-on luggage and use planes, trains or public transit to head to Philadelphia. It’s time that we gather again to celebrate our passion for science in person. It’s time for us to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. How appropriate that this inspiring city, named by William Penn from the Greek words for love (phileo) and brother (adelphos) will be our meeting place.

We are excited about the 10 themes we chose to structure the 2022 scientific sessions. These themes represent the incredible research breadth of ASBMB members and ensure that everyone will come away from the meeting reinvigorated and inspired for our next research adventure.

For protein mavens, the 2022 meeting themes include “Advances in enzyme structure and catalysis” and “From ordered machines to disordered condensates” as well as “Signaling from atoms to cell networks,” with a focus on atypical signaling mechanisms. 

Membrane, lipid and cell biologists will be excited by “Organizing membranes: Coordination of proteins and lipids as signaling platforms” and “Quality control in organelles” as well as our glycobiology theme highlighting roles of glycans in cell biology and disease.

Everyone can engage with the latest discoveries in metabolism with the “Current advances in metabolism” theme and explore new insights into chromatin and regulation by noncoding RNA in the “DNA/RNA regulation of nuclear processes” theme. 

The Minority Affairs Committee has assembled a diverse group of scientists to discuss the role of environment and adversity in health disparities. The Education and Professional Development Committee session focuses on inclusive and civil communication and the trends and future of assessment. Together, these sessions will allow us to engage with topical issues that challenge us to pull together as a community. 

In the upcoming days, we will be posting articles with details of these sessions here on the ASBMB Today website, and be sure to check the ASBMB site for annual meeting updates. 

We especially encourage early-career scientists and trainees to attend. As with past meetings, the 2022 conference will include poster sessions that span the range of scientific themes. Authors of selected abstracts will have an opportunity to give short platform talks, so we encourage all of you to submit a poster abstract. (For some tips on preparing that abstract, see Bill Sullivan’s “How to write a killer abstract.”) Poster sessions are often a student’s first foray into their broader field and an excellent opportunity to network. No amount of mentoring can supplant the confidence students gain by presenting their work to a broad audience. Presentation at a scientific meeting should be an essential component of every student’s individual development plan.

2022 attendees will have an opportunity to participate in award symposia and hear from the ASBMB’s 16 award winners about their exciting research. The awardees are all exceptional scientists whose contributions will be recognized in scientific sessions that punctuate the program.

The ASBMB welcomes scientists with a broad range of experiences and has a strong record of supporting the professional development of scientists at all career stages. Many of these efforts are showcased at the annual meeting. Undergraduate poster symposia are an excellent venue for young scientists to present their work and receive feedback. In addition, multiple career-oriented and networking sessions can help everyone find their own special community or communities within the conference. 

The workshops we piloted at the last annual meeting were a hit, so they will be back this time. So will the afternoon Spotlight Sessions that give a platform to students and early-career scientists whose research intersects with the meeting themes. The exhibit space will be a vibrant hub of discovery where all can sample the wares and learn about new opportunities. 

The annual meeting registration site is now open. Don’t wait for the reminders (there will be more than a few). Submit early and often. The society offers competitive travel awards for eligible students and postdoctoral fellows to help defray the cost of attending. Check asbmb.org and future issues of ASBMB Today for additional details.

The biggest lesson we learned from COVID-19 is not how quickly we can develop effective vaccines; we scientists are resourceful and always have known that where there’s a will (and money), there’s a way. More importantly, the pandemic has reminded us that science is a community endeavor. We’ve learned that we are resilient in ways that we never dreamt possible but also that we crave the company of other scientists.

Many of us remember a meeting where we dropped in on an off-topic talk or had a chance encounter that led to one of our most creative and successful projects ever. These awesome benefits of an in-person event cannot be replicated over Zoom. As we emerge from the pandemic, let’s get together to discuss awesome data, hear great science, break bread together, and share our stories of resilience, loss and survival. It is a date!

Our bags are already packed. Are yours?

Vahe Bandarian
Vahe Bandarian

Vahe Bandarian is a professor of chemistry at the University of Utah.

Martha Cyert
Martha Cyert

Martha S. Cyert is a professor and chair of the biology department at Stanford University.

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