President's Message

With challenges come opportunities

Toni M. Antalis
Aug. 5, 2020

It is a special honor to begin my term as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The ASBMB is very dear to me.

Antalis-Toni-445x623.jpg
Toni M. Antalis

I began my scientific career as an undergraduate obtaining summer research experience in a biochemistry lab and have been hooked ever since. My doctoral thesis research at Rice University focused on biophysical and kinetic analysis of electron transport in cytochrome oxidase, which led to a first-author paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Publishing that first paper in JBC and receiving those reprints with my name in print for the first time was truly exciting!

My research interests have evolved over the years into the study of proteases and protease-activated signaling pathways that affect tumor metastasis, inflammation and vascular biology. My lab studies several inflammatory mechanisms that promote blood clotting and the resolution of venous thrombosis as well as proteolytic signaling pathways used by ovarian cancers to facilitate tumor dissemination and spread.

I have continued my association with the society by serving on the Publications Committee and the Finance Committee and later as treasurer. This has allowed me to see the ASBMB grow and develop into a robust organization that strives to meet the needs of all of its members.

Thanks to the ASBMB scientific leadership, the excellent staff and the many dedicated committee volunteers, the society is in great shape. This is particularly important in the present COVID-19 environment and given the novel challenges we, as scientists, are facing. Universities have closed, and much research has been halted this year. We all cautiously are working out safe conditions for reopening and continuing laboratory research. A new paradigm is emerging at universities — virus testing systems are being put in place, and there are changes to the formal academic processes, which will undoubtedly have lasting effects. Many scientific and teaching activities are moving fully or partially online, with strict guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing.

This is unchartered territory. It has impacted our younger scientists significantly: graduate students aiming to complete their dissertations, postdoctoral fellows looking for jobs and junior faculty trying to build networks and collaborations. The ASBMB is committed to providing career-development resources for these groups, including its recently revamped online career center, the Art of Science Communication course and virtual presentation opportunities. (See asbmb.org/career-resources for those and more.)

There will be challenges in maintaining financial support for discovery research with increasingly competitive funds and uncertain economic conditions. The ASBMB serves as a defender of science and influencer of government policy on issues of concern to ASBMB members. The society responds rapidly to policy proposals and changes and stands firmly against attempts to politicize science and science funding. (See asbmb.org/advocacy for recent policy statements and to learn how to participate in advocacy efforts.)

Importantly, we must ensure social justice, fairness and civility for all and in all that we do.

Our immediate past president, Jerry Hart, did a tremendous job guiding the society through some major challenges over the past two years and deserves a special thanks. Importantly, he led the careful and consultative effort by the society to make all three ASBMB journals — JBC, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, and the Journal of Lipid Research — fully open access in 2021. This means that the final versions of the high-quality articles will be immediately available to everyone around the world, thus reducing barriers to scientific knowledge and accelerating scientific discoveries. A long history of sound financial stewardship by the society has enabled this to happen in an affordable way for authors — society members and nonmembers alike.

We are truly indebted to Herbert Tabor, who served at the helm of JBC for 40 years and who strongly supported and helped to mold the community of biochemists and molecular biologists that we have today. JBC Editor-in-Chief Lila Gierasch, MCP Editor-in-Chief Al Burlingame and JLR co-Editors-in-Chief Nicholas Davidson and Kerry-Anne Rye are doing wonderful jobs of overseeing their publications with the support of excellent associate editors and editorial board members, all of whom deserve our thanks for their dedicated service to the society and the scientific community.

With challenges come opportunities. This is an exciting time to be a molecular and biological scientist. Advances in genomics, imaging, bioengineering, CRISPR technologies, cryogenic electron microscopy, vaccine development and computational learning are advancing our understanding of biological systems significantly.

The ASBMB is devoted to advancing the science of biochemistry and molecular biology and serving the needs of the scientific community. I encourage you to visit the ASBMB website (asbmb.org) to learn about all of the resources and wonderful activities that the society provides and the impact on our scientific community.

You too can join this effort and make a difference. Let us know what will make us even better. We welcome your thoughts.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Toni M. Antalis

Toni Antalis is a professor of physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she is also the associate director for training and education for the Greenebaum Cancer Center and the director of the graduate program in molecular medicine. She began her term as the ASBMB’s president in July 2020.

Related articles

ASPET announces new leadership
ASBMB Today Staff
Welcome to the lab
Andrey Andreev, Valerie Komatsu, Paula Almiron, Kasey Rose, Alexandria Hughes & Maurice Y. Lee

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

James Bryant Howard (1942 – 2022)
Retrospective

James Bryant Howard (1942 – 2022)

May 16, 2022

He was an ASBMB member for more than 40 years, and he served on the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board from 1986 to 1991.

Welcome to the lab
Life in the Lab

Welcome to the lab

May 15, 2022

Having a formal onboarding procedure for new lab members can lead to a happier and more productive working environment.

A journey with scientists
Essay

A journey with scientists

May 11, 2022

“As I started my career, my first-choice journal was JBC, and my go-to meeting was the ASBMB annual meeting, where I met colleagues and made friends that remain in my life to this day.”

The first malaria vaccine is a leap forward, but we can’t stop now
Essay

The first malaria vaccine is a leap forward, but we can’t stop now

May 7, 2022

Next-generation vaccines, and a lot more money, are needed now to crack the stalemate in the fight against malaria

Deterring passive aggressive behaviors in the workplace
Professional Development

Deterring passive aggressive behaviors in the workplace

April 30, 2022

Steps you should take to eliminate “triangulation” intended to undermine or diminish colleagues.

Connecting by committee
Essay

Connecting by committee

April 28, 2022

“It was the wisdom of the committee, not that of any individual, that allowed good ideas to come to fruition.”