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February 19, 2015
Society News

Why is it so valuable to be a GSA member? 2014 Society President and plant geneticist Vicki Chandler discusses why membership is so important to her, details the Society's activities that support the genetics community, and encourages all of you and your colleagues to join or renew today.

Registration and abstract submission are now open for the 20th International C. elegans Meeting, June 24–28, 2015, at the University of California, Los Angeles. GSA is also accepting applications for our Undergraduate Travel Awards, which provide support for undergraduate researchers to attend this meeting. Deadlines are March 20 for award applications, April 16 for abstracts, and May 21 for early registration.

Almost time for the 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference! On-site registration spots are still available for this meeting in the heart of Chicago from March 4–8.

Do you tweet? Join nearly 5,000 others who keep up with news from GSA on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.

The GSA Journals

The February issue of GENETICS features a Perspectives article by Sir Walter Bodmer on the evolution of methods to study human polymorphisms, from the ABO blood groups to Bodmer's recent work on a fine-scale map of genetic variation in the UK.


Genetic Characterization of Human Populations: From ABO to a Genetic Map of the British People
Walter Bodmer. Genetics February 2015 199:267–279

In the February issue of G3, Salomé and Weigel use whole genome sequencing to reveal that a classical trisomic Arabidopsis line has a complex pedigree and is not what it seemed.


Plant Genetic Archaeology: Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals the Pedigree of a Classical Trisomic Line
Patrice A. Salomé and Detlef Weigel. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics February 2015 5:253–259

Going to the 56th Annual Drosophila Conference in Chicago next month? If you have a publishing question about our journals or just want some advice, meet GSA Journal Editors GENETICS Editor-in-Chief (EiC) Mark Johnston, G3 Senior Editor and FlyBook co-EiC Scott Hawley, plus GSA Journal editorial staff Cristy Gelling, Ruth Isaacson, and Tracey DePellegrin, and the 23 of our scientist-editors who'll be at the meeting! GENETICS and G3 are sponsoring the opening night reception, so hope to see you there, or stop by our booth!

Genes to Genomes: The GSA Journals Blog
Head of living zebrafish. Labeled tissues include the eye, brain, lateral line ganglion, and heart (cyan). Image credit: Zachary Tobias, Tamily Weissman.
Chasing Brainbows: Whether your computer screen displays a spreadsheet, a movie, or a LOLcat, you're seeing  pinpoints of light in only three colors: red, green, and blue. But by varying the relative intensity of these three components, a pixel can transform into any one of a spectrum of millions of colors. The same principle lies behind the powerful and visually spectacular Brainbow cell-labeling technique, in which each labeled cell expresses a unique ratio of three or four distinct colors of fluorescent protein. The February issue of GENETICS features a Genetic Toolbox Review by Tamily Weissman (Lewis and Clark College) and Albert Pan (Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University) that explores the evolution of Brainbow methods, provides practical tips, summarizes available genetic resources, and reflects on future directions in the field.

Included in this Issue:

February Issue

February Issue


Bioinformatics Quality Engineer – Clinical Genetics (3825) QIAGEN, Qiagen, Redwood City, CA

Tenure-track Assistant and Associate Professor of Genome Medicine and Science, Gachon University, Sungnam,

Sabbatical Replacement - One Year Term, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI

Communications Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Medical Officer, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Assistant Professor of Yeast Biology, UC Davis,

MaizeGDB Leader, MaizeGDB, a USDA ARS project, Ames, IA

Clinical genomics laboratory Genetic Counselor, BioReference Laboratories, Elmwood Park, NJ

Grants Analyst with Psychiatric Genetics research experience - NIMH, Kelly Government Solutions, Rockville, MD

Postdoc Plant Comparative Genomics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Quality Specialist, Partners Personalized Medicine, Cambridge, MA

Education and Professional Development

Have you ever wondered why your students weren't taking advantage of your office hours? The Teaching Professor Blog unpacks the results of a recent study investigating that question, and recaps suggestions for a more successful office hour experience.

If you've been experimenting with flipped classrooms and have had some success, consider submitting your materials to GSA PREP. With a resulting publication for your CV, you'll also help other educators in the community with the sometimes tricky process of creating an effective flipped classroom design.

The Institute of Medicine has released the summary of a workshop on Improving Genetics Education in Graduate and Continuing Health Professional Education. GSA's Director of Education and Professional Development, Beth Ruedi, was among those participating in the August 2014 workshop.

The power of encouragement: a new study shows that unconscious biases in elementary school teachers can discourage girls from studying math and science in later years. 

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is now accepting applications for its Genetics & Education Fellowship, co-sponsored by NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The fellowship serves as "a bridge for genetics professionals wishing to transition to education careers," and allows fellows to work with NHGRI's Education and Community Involvement Branch and ASHG's education department, with the option of working with another organization involved in science education. Applications are due April 24, 2015.

NIH's Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Enhancing Diversity in Biomedical Data Science R25 program provides resources for eligible institutions to implement innovative approaches to research education for diverse students in Big Data science, including those from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical research. Letters of intent are due March 7 and applications are due April 7.

Those interested in genetics policy should consider applying to the 16-month Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship co-sponsored by ASHG and NHGRI. Applications are due April 24.


NIH's Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) is seeking input from the community as it develops its next five-year strategic plan. ORIP's Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) is one of the primary supporters of resources for model organism research; according to the request for information (RFI), DCM "has a long history of supporting research and resource programs which enable scientists to develop, characterize, and improve models of human disease involving animals, cells, and bioinformatics." We encourage you to share your perspectives with GSA on a series of questions to help us submit a collective response or send your own feedback to the RFI. The deadline for responses is March 2. [more…]

NIH is also seeking input on the potential to establish some sort of "emeritus award" that could enable or facilitate senior investigators to transition out of an NIH-funded research program. While this could include PIs who are moving toward retirement, it could also be applicable for those transitioning toward full-time teaching, mentoring, or administration. Such an award could be a mechanism for senior investigators to hand off their research to junior colleagues or to complete projects and close out their laboratories. Let NIH know what you think by responding to the RFI by March 6, 2015.

The cascade of bills in Congress that would impact NIH continues. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) have introduced the Permanent Investment in Health Research Act, which would make NIH medical research a non-discretionary program, similar to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The bill faces an uphill fight, especially without any Republican co-sponsors.

USDA has given approval for the commercial planting of Arctic apples, which have been genetically engineered to be resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised.

The UK government has approved mitochondrial replacement therapy, an in vitro fertilization technique to prevent diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA. The decision was welcomed by numerous scientists and praised as a triumph of scientists' engagement with the public.

When citizens and science connect: the National Academy of Sciences Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences hosted a workshop in January about public engagement on genetically modified organisms geared towards life science researchers. The entire workshop, including reports and panel discussions with science communication and GMO experts, is now available online as a YouTube playlist.

Community Announcements

On February 27, NIH will celebrate the 8th annual Rare Disease Day by showcasing various rare disease research activities. Registration is free and the event will be webcast.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will host a course "Cell & Developmental Biology of Xenopus: Gene Discovery and Disease", April 9–21, 2015. Funding is available for two full fellowships for applicants from non-standard backgrounds (i.e., physics, math, computer science, engineering), as well as several half-scholarships for people new to Xenopus research. Applications are due February 23.

And finally...

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Chromosome shattering may have cured an immune disease. The phenomenon known as chromothripsis has been implicated in cancer, but this is the first report of its curative effects.
Image credit: EMBL/P. Riedinger
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e-News items include news about GSA members — new positions, book publication, awards or grants received and obits; short policy items; brief research news items and grant programs; and, award nomination announcements.

Deadline for next issue: February 26, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to GSA's Communications and Engagement Manager, Raeka Aiyar, raiyar@genetics-gsa.org.