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April 2, 2015
Society News

Grad students and postdocs: last chance to submit applications for the DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics to support travel to courses and conferences between July 1 and December 31, 2015. While there are no GSA conferences during this cycle, DeLill Nasser Awards are, as always, available to support any genetics-related course or conference to benefit one's career. Applications are due April 3, 2015. [more...]

The 28th Fungal Genetics Conference at Asilomar was a blast! The conference, which took place March 17–22, hosted worldwide leaders in fungal genetics research, who delivered over 100 talks and nearly 700 posters. Check out the conference photos on Facebook and catch up with the buzz on Twitter under #FUNGAL15.

Over the last few weeks, GSA has responded to a series of requests for information (RFIs) from the National Institutes of Health about issues of concern to the genetics and model organism communities:
  • The Society expressed concern that NIH's proposed emeritus award could establish another funding "set-aside" and further excerbate the challange of research support. GSA's comments focused on the need to protect the return on previous investments by facilitating the transfer of useful research stocks and materials to other investigators or enabling others to finish partially completed lines of research.
  • GSA provided input to NIH's Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) and its Division of Comparative Medicine on the development of a strategic plan. GSA focused on the importance of the model organism stock centers and other research resources that are supported by ORIP, arguing that stock centers provide a low-cost investment that benefits the entire community, helping promote consistency and the availability of important resources well beyond their original creation.
  • GSA also spoke up for model organisms in responding to an RFI about the sustainability of biomedical data repositories. In comments to the Big Data to Knowledge initiative, GSA stressed the critical role of data resources, including model organism databases which are essential for many members of our community. We also emphasized the importance of sustainability for key resources and an open and transparent process for evaluation.
A series of interviews with leading geneticists is now available online. Conversations in Genetics, a video series initiated by GSA and led by former GSA president Rochelle Easton Esposito, features extended conversations with some of the giants of our field: Seymour Benzer, Paul Berg, Elizabeth Blackburn, Sydney Brenner, James Crow, Walter Gehring, Leland Hartwell, Ira Herskowitz, François Jacob, Dale Kaiser, Edward Lewis, Daniel Lindsley, Victor McKusick, Arno Motulsky, Ray Owen, Janet Rowley, Piotr Slonimski, Evelyn Witkin, and Charles Yanofsky. You can help support additional interviews by a tax-deductible contribution in support of the project.

A reminder that the abstract submission and financial aid deadlines for the 20th International C. elegans meeting, June 24–28, 2015 at UCLA, are approaching on April 16.

Do you tweet? Join over 5,000 others by following the Genetics Society of America on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.

The GSA Journals

Help us launch a new century of GENETICS! January 2016 marks the second century of GENETICS. Help us celebrate 100 years of scholarship and innovation by submitting your genetics and genomics research for publication in one of the 2016 centennial issues of the journal. Research published in centennial issues will receive increased attention and promotion during the year-long commemoration. Importantly, we'll celebrate our history as much by looking forward as back – with a series of invited Commentaries and features that will focus on the future of genetics and genomics research.

To take advantage of this opportunity, submit your article after May 1, 2015 and include a note in the cover letter indicating that you wish the work to be considered for final publication in 2016. We also welcome submissions of cover art relating to your article or to a historical topic in genetics. Send inquiries to the GENETICS editorial office: genetics-gsa@thegsajournals.org.

Presumed stem-loop structures in the C. elegans CGL pre-mRNA regulate its splicing.
From Mathews et al.
Stem-loop splice: The Cholinergic Gene Locus (CGL) encodes two genes required for release of acetylcholine; one gene is nested within the other, and the two gene products arise by alternative splicing. Mathews et al. report a novel form of splicing regulation in the C. elegans CGL mediated by two sets of complementary sequence elements. These elements are able to form stem-loop structures in pre-mRNA, which may favor specific alternatively spliced isoforms. The authors find comparable CGL elements in most animal phyla, suggesting the mechanism is conserved.


Unusual regulation of splicing of the cholinergic locus in Caenorhabditis elegans
Eleanor A. Mathews, Gregory P. Mullen, Jacob R. Manjarrez, and James B. Rand
Genetics March 2015 199:729-737

Do you have results from a mutant screen that you haven't had the chance to publish? G3's Mutant Screen Reports allow you to publish succinct descriptions of useful genetic screens in a convenient format.

Included in this Issue:

March Issue

March Issue


Research position in Computational Epigenomics and Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Biology Education Research Postdoc at Nebraska, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Assistant Director, Neurogenetics, GeneDx, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD

Senior Clinical Scientist, Whole Exome Sequencing Program, GeneDx, Inc, Giathersburg, MD

Chief, Medical Genetics Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation,

Health Professional Education Programs Manager, ASHG, Bethesda, MD

Postdoctoral fellow, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Chief, Medical Genetics, MillicanSolutions, Inc., Syracuse, NY

Spvr CHP Manager, California Prenatal Screening Program, University of California Davis Health System, Sacramento, CA

Sr. Clinical Scientist/Assistant Director, Neurogenetics, GeneDx, Gaithersburg, MD

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps Colleges, Claremont, CA

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California Davis, Davis, CA

Faculty Position: Director of Molecular Genomics Lab, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Genes to Genomes: The GSA Journals Blog

Mutant Screen Report: Touchy worms
If you gently touch the front half of a Caenorhabditis elegans nematode with an eyebrow hair glued to a toothpick, it will stop and reverse course. Eyelashes will do the trick too, apparently, though it hurts more for the experimenter/hair donor to sacrifice them. In this month's G3, a Mutant Screen Report from Martin Chalfie's lab shows how traditional C. elegans mutageneses can be complemented by neuronally enhanced RNAi screens to identify neuronal phenotypes for essential genes. Chen et al. used the method to screen for pleiotropic genes affecting sensitivity to gentle touch, identifying 61 hits. Read more about the screen at Genes to Genomes.

Members in the News

G3 editor and former GSA Board member Jay Dunlap.
Source: Lab website

NPR reports on research from G3 editor and former GSA Board member Jay Dunlap (Dartmouth College) on a type of mushroom that glows green in the dark. This regulated glow attracts insects that then spread the mushroom's spores.

GSA member Razib Khan (UC Davis) is among 20 new online-focused writers brought on as contributors for The New York Times op-ed and Sunday Review sections. Khan is a PhD student who writes about evolution, genetics, religion, politics and philosophy.

GENETICS Associate Editor Jay Shendure (University of Washington) is among those appointed to an NIH working group that is helping to develop the Precision Medicine Initiative research network.

Education and Professional Development

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an opening for a postdoc in biology education research. The position will focus on the introductory biology course at UNL, transforming both the teaching and assessment practices used in the class. The postdoctoral researcher will be expected to both develop innovative pedagogical practices and collect data on student learning. If you're finishing your PhD and are interested in education research, this may be the opportunity for you! Check out the details at GeneticsCareers.org.

Don't forget that GSA offers several outlets for publication of education-related materials! Whether you have in-depth education research with assessment data or resources you've developed for your classroom, we provide a place to publish your work.

The Faculty Focus blog has highlighted a recent article investigating effective use of student reading questions to discover knowledge gaps in courses: "as instructors, we make a myriad of assumptions about the knowledge students bring to our courses." This article introduces student-generated reading questions (SGRQs) as a means for making inferences about the "range and extent of all students' conceptions," a method that can be used in large lecture courses as well as smaller settings.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education careers blog offers tips on job interviews in "Yawnfest: Don't Be a Boring Interviewee."

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

To support junior scientists launching their careers, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Simons Foundation have teamed up to establish the Faculty Scholars Program. The five-year, nonrenewable program would provide up to $400,000 in annual direct costs for investigators 4-10 years out of training, which can support partial PI salary, lab personnel, equipment, supplies, and other expenses. The Faculty Scholars competition is open to basic researchers and physician scientists at more than 220 eligible institutions. The application deadline is July 28, 2015.

NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) plans to test a new award aimed at staff scientists. The five-year, renewable "research specialist award" would support up to 100% of salaries, but would not cover research expenses. NCI plans to set aside $5 million for 50–60 awards over the next 18 months.

NIH has shared additional data on the age of PIs supported by R01s and other research project grants. Trends continue with increasing support for investigators age 66 and above and a declining percentage for those 35 and below.


NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has issued the final version of its new strategic plan, which will guide institute activities over the next five years. The plan mirrors many of the themes suggested by GSA in its 2014 White Paper and response to NIGMS's formal request for information, including a focus on investigator-initiated research, the importance of high-quality training, and support for essential research resources.

National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced its new public access plan "Today's Data, Tomorrow's Discoveries." This plan is intended to fulfill the February 22, 2013, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research." The only requirements that will change under the new plan are those associated with public access to research articles. NSF is maintaining the current Data Management Plan (DMP) requirement for grant applications to ensure appropriate data sharing. In the plan, NSF also describes several related efforts it intends to carry out within the next three years. Through consultation with the research community and other Federal agencies, NSF aims to "facilitate the establishment of best practices and standards" for repositories and for data identification and citation. In addition, NSF commits to developing guidance for sensitive data and enhancing their website to support searching for datasets associated with NSF awards.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) speak out forcefully on the need to increase our investment in NIH, including a call for a $40 billion budget by 2021.

And finally...

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Deadline for next issue: April 9, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to GSA at press@genetics-gsa.org