November 2012

ASBMB becomes the U.S. adhering body to IUBMB

Former society leader Petsko will serve as the global organization’s president

Photo of Gregory Petsko 

This fall, scientists from the international biochemistry and molecular biology community gathered in Spain for the 22nd International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Congress, at which the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was made the U.S. adhering body of the IUBMB and former ASBMB President Gregory Petsko became president of the IUBMB. Petsko was elected three years ago and served as president-elect under President Angelo Azzi until September, when his own three-year term began.

Founded in 1955, the IUBMB consists of molecular biologists and biochemists from more than 70 countries, united with a mission to “advance the international molecular life science community.” In alignment with the goals of the ASBMB, the IUBMB has endeavored to achieve this mission by promoting diversity, creating networks of scientists that transcend boundaries, developing opportunities for young scientists to excel and promoting an environment where scientific progress is unhindered.

Azzi explains that the role of the IUBMB is to function as “a global organization, trying not to compete with the local societies, but instead trying to represent the world extension of these organizations.”

Petsko says he anticipates that this partnership will “provide a forum where investigators can meet their counterparts from other countries and have broader international recognition for their work.” He said he also believes this will “enable people who are interested in helping the growth of science in underdeveloped nations to participate in activities that can really make an impact.”

This partnership seems natural, as both the IUBMB and the ASBMB previously have collaborated on initiatives that facilitate the progress of the international scientific community. In alliance with the Pan-American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the IUBMB and the ASBMB developed a training program that offers young scientists active in the PABMB an opportunity to perform novel research in the laboratories of ASBMB-affiliated scientists. That program is called Promoting Research Opportunities for Latin American Biochemists, or PROLAB.

Azzi says he hopes that the partnership between the ASBMB and the IUBMB will continue to birth similar programs that will facilitate the growth of scientists at all stages, particularly those in developing nations, adding that he expects “the innovative mind of Greg Petsko will provide new developments and fresh ideas for (the IUBMB) especially to the benefit of scientists who have been less fortunate.”

Petsko admits that fostering the growth of scientists in developing countries is the challenge he will “need to come to grips with during the next three years” and says that he is planning to work in close partnership with the ASBMB leadership to develop structured initiatives. Petsko says his immediate goals for the IUBMB include an “increased focus on the role of women and minorities in the affairs of IUBMB, increased emphasis on educational activities, and the continuation of the educational and outreach activities that were begun so ably by Angelo during his term in office.”

In the long run, Petsko says, he is interested in exploring new ways for members to communicate, including newsletters, blogs and Twitter. He is also interested in examining “how scientific publishing may be changing from the perspective of our excellent IUBMB journals.”

Petsko urges ASBMB members to contribute to these efforts by “remaining a strong vital organization and increasing ASBMB membership, especially of young scientists, women and minorities.” He also encourages members of both the IUBMB and the ASBMB to voice their opinions on programs they would like to see implemented.


Photo of Lola OlufemiLola Olufemi ( is a contributing writer for ASBMB Today.

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