September 2013

Solving the insoluble (and watching them dance)

Jeremy Berg: "I recently have started to work on the next edition of “Biochemistry,” the textbook first written by Lubert Stryer. The initiation of the revision process is always a bit daunting, but it is a great occasion to take stock of progress across the entire field of biochemistry. In my survey, four facets stood out: newly appreciated roles for RNA; an increased interest in the importance of metabolism; the ever-growing knowledge of the vastness of the microbial world, including the human microbiome; and the structures and mechanisms of action of membrane proteins. I will focus on the last topic here."


Member update

Two members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology were named winners of the BioArt competition held by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology this year. John G. “Jack” Bieri, a longtime biochemist at the National Institutes of Health, died in late July. Anthony “Tony” Pawson, the British-born Canadian cell biologist whose team first reported in 1990 the process of signal transduction, died in early August.


Will this time be any different?

Most Septembers and Octobers in Washington, D.C., for the past several years have been filled with angry rhetoric and finger pointing. This is because the government’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and Congress and the president need to agree to a spending plan for the next fiscal year or risk a government shutdown. Thus, this time of year brings about rancorous debate over the size of the federal budget and the government’s spending priorities.


The hyaluronan connection

Nadine Nagy and Sanna Pasonen-Seppänen were named the joint winners of the Herbert Tabor Young Investigator awards at the 2013 International Hyaluronan Conference in June in Oklahoma City.


Christian de Duve, 1917 – 2013

Christian de Duve, one of Belgium’s greatest scientists and winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize for describing the structure and function of lysosomes and peroxisomes, died at his home on May 4.


NIH commits $24 million annually for big data centers of excellence

Every day, numerous researchers produce an abundance of datasets. However, the scientific community lacks tools, accessibility and training in how to use these large, diverse datasets. In response to these problems, the National Institutes of Health is launching the Big Data to Knowledge initiative, or BD2K, in December. The NIH will provide up to $24 million per year for four years to establish and support six to eight investigator-initiated BD2K Centers of Excellence.


Announcing the launch of ASBMB report “Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity”

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s report titled “Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity” highlights the data gathered from a survey of more than 3,700 scientists from all fields of research. The survey was conducted by ASBMB and 15 partner organizations during the summer. The report, released Aug. 29, chronicles the effects of federal budget cuts on the American research enterprise from the perspective of the individual scientist.

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