President's Message

The ASBMB has done a lot to benefit science and our field

Gerald Hart
July 1, 2020

It has been my great honor and privilege to serve as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s president for the past two years. My term ends this month, and I am pleased to welcome Toni Antalis as the ASBMB’s new president. I cannot think of anyone more qualified to take over the leadership of our society. Toni served as ASBMB treasurer and chair of the finance committee before becoming president-elect. She has an in-depth knowledge of our society and is dedicated to ensuring that ASBMB activities benefit our members and our field. I am leaving the society in great hands.

The past two years have seen big changes at the ASBMB.

We continued efforts started by Natalie Ahn, past president, to involve more young people in our society, especially by giving them more opportunities to present their work at our national meeting. Unfortunately, but wisely, we decided to cancel our 2020 meeting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Nonetheless, ASBMB staff have kept us all in communication via Zoom calls and online presentations of materials that had been scheduled for the meeting.

 After months of work and deliberation by many people, the society’s leadership decided it was in the best interest of our membership and scientific discovery to make all three ASBMB journals, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and the Journal of Lipid Research, gold open access starting Jan. 1, 2021. This decision will have a huge impact on our science, and we hope it will expand the reach of our journals around the world. The ASBMB believes that making scientific discovery freely available to everyone is the right thing to do. A history of careful financial stewardship by the society’s senior staff and leaders made this decision possible. Open access will likely be mandated in the future, and now our society is out in front, taking the lead from a strong financial position.

As you know, the ASBMB for many years has held its national meeting with other scientific societies at the Experimental Biology conference. Earlier this year, we convened a task force and conducted a survey of members. Based upon their recommendations and responses, the ASBMB Council voted to hold the society’s national meeting independently starting in 2023. Having a stand-alone meeting will give us more control over programming and scheduling. Importantly, we believe that a smaller, ASBMB-centered meeting will foster a stronger sense of community.

The ASBMB Public Affairs Advisory Committee, chaired by Terri Kinzy and supported by Benjamin Corb, director of public affairs, has been active in promoting the interests of our membership to federal agencies. Together with other societies, the PAAC presented a strong letter to the National Institutes of Health against the politicizing of science, as evidenced by its removal of funding from a coronavirus researcher who collaborated with a laboratory in China. The PAAC also took a strong stance against the recent proposed legislation and executive orders to ban Chinese students and fellows from working in U.S. labs. Science must remain an international enterprise without borders or political interference.

 Members of the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee, chaired by Sonia Flores, released a powerful statement June 1 in response to police killings of Black people and institutionalized racism in the U.S. Their message was emailed to all society members and was published in ASBMB Today. We also shared it on all our social media channels, including our three journal accounts. The ASBMB strongly encourages all members to participate in whatever is required to remove systemic racism from all aspects of life in their communities and countries.

While many of us have been stuck at home in recent months, the ASBMB continues to support and represent our interests. The past two years have seen large changes in this society. It has been a privilege to work with the outstanding people on its committees and staff. The ASBMB has a bright future. Be sure to join us in our many activities and work with us toward our shared goals.

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Gerald Hart

Gerald Hart is a professor and Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar at the University of Georgia. He is a former president of the ASBMB.

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