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February 4, 2015
Society News

Congratulations from GSA to all five of our 2015 Society Award winners!

Brian Charlesworth (University of Edinburgh, UK) has been awarded GSA's Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal for lifetime achievement in the field of genetics. The award recognizes Dr. Charlesworth's profound impact on our understanding of population genetics and evolutionary biology. He will receive the award at this year's Drosophila Research Conference, March 4–8, in Chicago. [more...]

Steven Henikoff (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) has been awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of genetics during the past 15 years. He will also receive his award at this year's Drosophila Research Conference. [more...]

Louisa A. Stark (University of Utah) has been awarded GSA's Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education in recognition of her significant and sustained impact in genetics education. The award honors the remarkable advances in global access to genetics education enabled by Dr. Stark's Learn.Genetics and Teach.Genetics websites. [more...]

Sue Biggins (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) has been awarded the Society's Edward Novitski Prize. The award recognizes Dr. Biggins' extraordinary level of creativity and intellectual ingenuity in solving significant problems in genetics research—namely, her groundbreaking research on the molecular mechanisms of chromosome segregation. [more...]

Former GSA Board member Marnie Halpern presented John Postlethwait (University of Oregon) with GSA’s George W. Beadle Award for outstanding contributions to the zebrafish genetics community at the 6th Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators, January 17–21, in Pacific Grove, CA. [more...]

Drosophila researchers: note that the deadline for hotel reservations at this year's 2015 Drosophila Research Conference is quickly approaching – make sure to secure your spot at the conference hotel in the heart of Chicago by February 6. Advance registration will remain open through February 20.

Fungal geneticists: we need your help! If you're attending the Fungal Genetics Conference, please volunteer your time and expertise at our Trainee Bootcamp on March 17, just before the official start of the conference. We're particularly in need of faculty who have participated in funding review panels (both in the US and internationally) or on journal editorial boards. There are other volunteer opportunities for education and career development events as well: please complete this survey to let us know whether you can help.

The GSA Journals

Research has lost more than 30% of its support from NIH in the past 5 years, compared to a 15% decline in total support for all fields combined, estimate Wangler, Yamamoto, and Bellen in a GENETICS Perspectives article. The authors highlight the strengths of the Drosophila model and argue that the field will continue to reveal important biological insights that can be translated to human disease research. They contend that collaboration between Drosophila geneticists, human geneticists, bioinformaticians, and clinicians will improve the functional annotation of both genomes, providing important data for the diagnosis, study, and treatment of genetic disorders.

  Fruit Flies in Biomedical Research
Michael F. Wangler, Shinya Yamamoto, and Hugo J. Bellen. Genetics; Early online January 26, 2015

Mouse CRISPR: In the latest issue of GENETICS, Singh et al. review CRISPR methods for mouse mutagenesis and share their own experiences with the method. This Toolbox Review also reports evidence that transient inhibition of the NHEJ pathway improves efficiency of homology-directed CRISPR editing in mouse embryos.

  A Mouse Geneticist's Practical Guide to CRISPR Applications
Priti Singh, John C. Schimenti and Ewelina Bolcun-Filas. Genetics; January 2015 199:1-15

Included in this Issue:

January Issue

January Issue


Postdoctoral Fellow, Genome Institute of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Paper Rating, Utah State University,

Prenatal Genetics Counselor, Yale University, New Haven CT, CT

Postdoctoral Researcher, The Ohio State University Division of Human Genetics, Columbus, OH

Postdoctoral Associate in molecular aspects of age-related macular degeneration, John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, Miami, FL

Lindholm Endowed Chair in Molecular Genetics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Postdoctoral position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

Postdoctoral position in mouse developmental biology, Mt. Sinai (New York City), Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, NY

Assistant or Associate Professor of Biology, Bemidji State University, Brooklyn Park, MN

Postdoctoral Associate, University of Massachusetts Medical, MA

Postdoctoral Associate, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

Cassava Map: The starchy roots of cassava provide nourishment for 800 million people worldwide. To accelerate breeding programs and identify markers for disease resistance and other traits, the International Cassava Genetic Map Consortium has created a high-resolution linkage map and chromosome-scale genome assembly by merging 10 independent cassava maps.

  High-Resolution Linkage Map and Chromosome-Scale Genome Assembly for Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) from 10 Populations
International Cassava Genetic Map Consortium (ICGMC). G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics; January 2015 5:133-144

Many GSA members act as peer-reviewers on manuscripts and grant review panels, and our membership boasts a large number of journal editors for key publications in our respective fields. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provides resource documents on issues such as what constitutes a conflict of interest, text recycling (v. plagiarism), authorship guidelines, international standards for authors and editors, flowcharts to help deal with suspected misconduct, and other potential challenges facing working scientists who act as journal editors and reviewers.

Members in the News

Congratulations to longtime GSA member Richard Lewontin (Harvard University) for winning the prestigious Crafoord Prize in Biosciences! He shares the award with Tomoka Ohta (National Institute of Genetics in Japan) for pioneering contributions to our understanding of genetic variation between individuals. One of the key studies was published in GENETICS in 1966!

Two GSA members have been honored with 2015 awards from the National Academy of Sciences:

  • Congratulations to Hopi Hoekstra (Harvard University; HHMI), winner of the 2015 Richard Lounsbery Award for extraordinary scientific achievement in biology and medicine! She is recognized for her work to unravel the genetic basis of the evolution of complex behaviors. [more...]
  • Congratulations to Susan Gottesman (National Cancer Institute), winner of the 2015 Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology! She is recognized for her work on post-transcriptional regulation – namely, via proteolysis and small RNAs – in bacteria. Dr. Gottesman served on the GSA Board from 2000–2002. [more...]
G3 Deputy Editor-in-Chief Steve Scherer (University of Toronto) was featured in the Canadian press for his new research showing that even in siblings, autism can have different genetic causes.

Education and Professional Development

Teaching about meiosis this semester? Using primary literature and the companion Primer is an ideal way to convey core genetics concepts while introducing critical scientific competencies! The first Primer for 2015 is Elizabeth Ables' "Drosophila Oocytes as a Model for Understanding Meiosis," which accompanies the recent GENETICS research article "Corolla is a Novel Protein That Contributes to the Architecture of the Synaptonemal Complex of Drosophila" by K. A. Collins et. al. Please use the GSA core concepts and core competencies as a guide for including this invaluable resource in your syllabus.

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is now accepting applications for its Genetics & Education Fellowship, co-sponsored by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and NIH. 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.

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has issued its first funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for its Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) program, which was established as a way to increase both the flexibility and stability of NIGMS-funded investigators. This first FOA is a pilot for established investigators with two or more R01-equivalent awards or a single award of $400K or more direct costs, and who have an NIGMS grant expected to end in FY16 or FY17. Letters of intent are requested by April 20, with full applications due May 20, 2015. [more...]

NIGMS' Postdoctoral Research Associate Program is seeking applications through March 17 for its 50th class of fellows. PRAT fellows conduct research relevant to NIGMS' mission in an intramural lab at NIH. Potential preceptors should be identified prior to developing a research proposal.

The L'Oréal For Women in Science program recognizes and rewards the contributions women make in STEM fields and identifies exceptional women researchers committed to serving as role models for younger generations. The program will award five postdoctoral women scientists in the United States this year with grants of up to $60,000 each. Applications are now open to candidates from a variety of fields, and are due March 20, 2015.

USDA's National Institute of Food & Agriculture has announced a new institutional fellowship program with nearly $17 million available to support undergrads, predocs, and postdocs. Deadlines are in February 2015.


On Monday, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, providing an indication of White House priorities. Federal science agencies fare well, including a proposed 3% increase for NIH (to $31.3 billion), 5% increase for NSF (to $7.7 billion), and a 38% increase for USDA's Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (to $450 million). However, the budget is not being received with open arms by Congressional Republicans, who hold majorities in both the House and Senate. [more...]

The White House has released official information about its new Precision Medicine Initiative, as mentioned in the State of the Union address and a Friday event hosted by President Obama. The President has included $215 million in his 2016 budget proposal in support of the initiative, including $200 million to NIH. The funding would support development of a voluntary national research cohort of a million volunteers and scaling up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer and apply that knowledge to develop more effective treatments.

The U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee has released an initial discussion document outlining specific proposals that have emerged through the committee's 21st Century Cures initiative. The nearly 400-page document compiles a number of ideas to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of biomedical research innovation and to streamline clinical trials and the drug approval process. In writing to the committee last May, GSA stressed the importance of discovery; nevertheless, foundational research gets relatively little attention in the new document. Committee chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) has invited feedback via the Twitter hashtag #Cures2015.

The editors of Scientific American call upon Congress to restore the nation's commitment to supporting basic research, including reauthorization and full funding of the America COMPETES Act. The editorial pushes back on complaints about so-called 'frivolous' grants, stating that, "even a cursory look at the facts demonstrates that basic research drives innovation."

Scientists and the general public have differing opinions on many issues related to research, technology, and society, according to surveys conducted of the general public and AAAS members by the Pew Research Center. Among the findings: only 37% of U.S. adults believe that it is safe to each genetically modified foods, compared with 88% of scientists.

There have been a number of proposals offered by Members of Congress to increase funding for the NIH. The latest is from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who suggests what is being termed a 'swear jar,' where drug companies who break the law would be required to pay 1% of the profits from a drug that can be traced back to publicly-funded research to NIH.

Judith Greenberg, who has served as director of the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology since 1988, has been named the institute's deputy director. She had served as acting deputy director since October 2013 and had twice serve as NIGMS acting director.

Community Announcements

IV International Conference, "Modern problems in genetics, radiobiology, radioecology and evolution," dedicated to the 115th birthday of N.W. Timofeeff-Ressovsky, June 2–6, 2015, St. Petersburg, Russia. Abstract submission and pre-registration deadline: March 1, 2015.

Please submit announcements you would like to make to the GSA community by contacting Raeka Aiyar, GSA's Communications and Engagement Manager.

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Deadline for next issue: February 12, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to GSA's Communications and Engagement Manager, Raeka Aiyar, raiyar@genetics-gsa.org.