On the horizon for the Lipid Research Division

The new year is upon us, and it brings along with it a number of challenges and opportunities. But first, let’s recap some of last year.

  • • In 2013, the Lipid Research Division grew, and we now have more than 400 members.
  • • The Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research was bestowed upon Mary L. Kraft of the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, making her the fifth recipient of the award.
  • • The membrane and lipid themes of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting continue to be successful, and I encourage everyone to register for the 2014 meeting. It promises to exceed our past successes. (The late-breaking abstract submission deadline is Feb. 21.)

With new leadership comes new plans. These initiatives, while ambitious, are aimed at strengthening both our community and our voice within the larger scientific community. To this end, an executive committee will be formed to manage the LRD and to formulate strategies pointed at addressing critical areas.
One key charge of this committee will be to address growing concerns regarding the National Institutes of Health’s reviews of lipid-involved proposals. As a first step in that direction, we will provide scientific review officers with the names, email addresses and specific areas of lipid expertise of our members who are both willing and eligible to review NIH proposals that focus on lipid chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and the cell biology of lipids and membranes. We anticipate that SROs will use this list to recruit the required number of reviewers with the appropriate expertise to provide fair yet critical reviews of these proposals.
Obviously, that list has to be generated. To that end, we will reach out to the LRD membership with a survey instrument to collect the required data. The cooperation of each and every eligible member of the lipid community in responding to the upcoming survey will be essential to that enterprise.
New ASBMB President Steven McKnight, a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, brings an enthusiasm to the ASBMB that inspires great promise. Steve is keenly interested in enhancing the identity of the ASBMB as a home for the leading researchers in biochemistry and molecular biology. The LRD shares this commitment. While biochemistry can be defined broadly, it’s abundantly clear that our community represents the premiere lipid biochemists. We will make certain that our input in the ASBMB community remains strong.
While the upcoming year holds numerous opportunities to fortify our community, our continued growth depends on the participation of our members. Renewing ASBMB and LRD memberships and attending the annual meeting in San Diego are examples of such participation. Active involvement of our members in service committees at the LRD, the ASBMB, journal editorial boards and so on also will play a major role in determining how lipid science grows, what directions our field takes and the level of visibility lipid science enjoys.
Yes, the upcoming year presents significant challenges and exciting opportunities. With the lipid community’s support, we fully expect to answer the bell.

Vytas BankaitisDaniel RabenVytas A. Bankaitis (vytas@tamhsc.edu) is the E. L. Wehner-Welch Foundation Chair in Chemistry at the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center. Daniel M. Raben (draben@jhmi.edu) is a professor in the department of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.