June 2012

Thank you, ASBMB


Photo of Joan Geiling 
Joan Geiling has been ASBMB’s meetings manager since 2004. We have her to thank for all the behind-the-scenes work on our annual meetings.
Photo of Geoff Hunt 
Geoff Hunt, formerly an ASBMB science policy fellow, now is the society’s outreach coordinator. Next month, look for his new outreach column in ASBMB Today.
Photo of Ben Corb 
Under Ben Corb’s direction, ASBMB has had more than 250 visits with lawmakers since September 2010.
Photo of Merle Olson 
Merle Olson of the University of Texas Health Science Center began his term as treasurer in 2009 and will complete it this month.
Photo of Joan Conaway 
Many thanks to Joan Conaway of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research for her leadership of the society’s Meetings Committee. Photo by Jay Casillas at Stowers.
Photo of Jeremy Berg 
Jeremy Berg of the University of Pittsburgh will take over as ASBMB’s president in July.

It is hard to believe that my two-year stint as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will end in a few weeks’ time. Without reservation, service to this society has been a rich and rewarding experience. I have had a chance to meet and work with some wonderful people, I have learned many lessons, and I feel energized to continue to do what I can in support of the community of scientists at large.

I owe a special thanks to ASBMB staff members, who are outstanding and do so much behind the scenes to enable our society to operate smoothly. Our executive director, Barbara Gordon, has assembled a terrific team that works together to produce our journals (overseen by Nancy Rodnan), organize our meetings and workshops (overseen by Joan Geiling, Jlynn Frazier and Weiyi Zhao), and oversee our finances (Steve Miller). Thanks to every member of the ASBMB staff for all you do on our behalf.

I am proud to have helped recruit new editors-in-chief — for The Journal of Biological Chemistry (Martha Fedor) and ASBMB Today (Angela Hopp) — and also to have recruited a new director of public affairs, Ben Corb. We have created a new Public Outreach Committee led by Geoff Hunt, our former public policy fellow, and Lee Gehrke and established a new mentorship committee led by Fred Maxfield. We initiated ASBMB-sponsored career symposia around the country, at which students and postdoctoral fellows meet with alumni of their own institutions to learn about the breadth of career choices that await biochemistry and molecular biology Ph.D.s.

I had the pleasure of supporting the creation of new awards, including the Alice and C.C. Wang Award for Excellence in Molecular Parasitology, the new Mildred Cohn Award for contributions to biochemistry using physical approaches, and an enhanced award to honor Herb Tabor for his lifelong service to ASBMB and the JBC. Tabor is a truly remarkable man — it has been a special treat for me to get to know him a little better during my term.

A great deal of the work accomplished by the ASBMB is done by volunteers who contribute their ideas, energy and time to make the world of science a better place for all of us. To our council members, committee chairs and committee members, thank you for your good work and willingness to give back. No one has enough time these days, yet these ASBMB members find time to contribute. I enjoy participating in ASBMB committees because it gives me a chance to meet new people and interact with colleagues whom I would not normally have the opportunity to work with. The projects undertaken require creative problem solving — a process that most scientists enjoy. Teaming up with my counterparts from different institutions helps me to feel that I am part of a much larger family of biochemists and molecular biologists. We share a common language, culture and lifestyle and share joys and challenges alike. I hope each of you will consider volunteering some of your time to participate in the larger family of science.

Two ASBMB leaders deserve special recognition. Merle Olson has served as the ASBMB’s treasurer for the past several years and has done an outstanding job of overseeing our finances and investments. As he completes his term at the end of this month, know that our investments have fully recovered from the economic downturn and are performing well at this time. Toni Antalis will assume the role of treasurer in July, and she has worked closely with Merle this year to learn how society finances operate.

Joan Conaway will step down as chair of the Meetings Committee. A former councilor, Joan has a long record of service to the ASBMB and has been a wonderful mentor to all the program chairs who worked with the committee to develop our annual meeting programming. Heartfelt thanks to Joan for all her efforts. Dan Raben will become chair of the Meetings Committee at the end of this month.

Another highlight of my term was the opportunity, earlier this year, to testify in support of science funding before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations. This committee sets budgetary priorities for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health. Corb has been nurturing relationships with staff members of this committee to help the ASBMB continue to be a valued contact when science-funding issues arise. Since Corb joined the ASBMB in September 2010, we have had more than 250 visits to more than 100 member of Congress. Julie McClure, the ASBMB’s science policy fellow, has worked closely with Corb to train our members how to talk with their congressional representatives and explain the importance of science and science funding.

I am extremely pleased that my successor, Jeremy Berg, is so well qualified to lead the ASBMB over the next several years. Last month’s President’s Message included a number of lab credos for the practice of science. At a recent dinner to honor our ASBMB annual award winners, each awardee was asked to share his or her favorite credo. Jeremy contributed one of the best: “When a student complains that nothing is working, I tell that student to get a large beaker, fill it with water and heat it to 100°C. Water always boils.” Know that the ASBMB is in very good hands. It has been an honor to work with Jeremy in his capacity as president-elect this year, and I will continue to support him in my role this coming year as past president of the ASBMB.

Thanks to each of you for the privilege of serving.



Suzanne PfefferASBMB President Suzanne Pfeffer (pfeffer@stanford.edu) is the Emma Pfeiffer Merner professor of medical sciences and a biochemistry professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

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