February 5, 2014



Society News

GSA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 GSA Awards.  The five geneticists honored are recognized by their peers for outstanding achievements and contributions to the community:

  • Frederick M. Ausubel (Harvard Med Sch and Mass Gen Hospital) has been awarded the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal for lifetime contributions to the field of genetics.
  • Angelika B. Amon (MIT and HHMI) has been awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to the field of genetics during the past 15 years.
  • Hugo J. Bellen (Baylor Coll of Med and HHMI) has been awarded the George W. Beadle Award for outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers.
  • Charles Boone (Univ of Toronto) has been awarded the Edward Novitski Prize for an extraordinary level of creativity and intellectual ingenuity in solving significant problems in genetics research.
  • Robin Wright (Univ of Minnesota) has been awarded the Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education for significant and sustained impact in genetics education.

Additional background about the awards and the recipients is available here.  And look for more, including interviews with the award recipients, in forthcoming issues of GENETICS. Congratulations to the winners!

GSA has submitted Congressional testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs on conference and travel spending across the federal government.  The testimony highlights the value of scientific conferences and expresses concern about the unintended and detrimental impacts of new regulations. The impact is especially dramatic on federal government employees, including intramural researchers at federal agencies like NIH and program directors who oversee federal investment in scientific research.  GSA thanks the organizers of recent GSA conferences and other members of our community for providing helpful examples about the effects of these regulations. Read the full testimony here.

Registration and abstract submission are now open for the GSA-sponsored 16th International Conference on the Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas, June 813, 2014, at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.  Organized by Krishna Niyogi (Univ California Berkeley) and Winfield Sale (Emory Univ), sessions at this conference will be organized to provide the maximum number of opportunities for interdisciplinary group discussionDeadline for abstract submission, registration, and housing is March 13, 2014.

The GSA Journals

In the February issue of GENETICS, a pair of papers illustrate how fruit flies could be used as tools for understanding the genetics of complex human diseases. He et al. and Park et al. describe a Drosophila melanogaster model of neonatal diabetes, a human disease that can be caused by misfolded proinsulin.

Also in the February issue, Blumenstiel et al. propose a new approach to testing the neutrality of transposable element insertion that doesn’t assume a constant rate of transposition. 

In G3, Gabdank and Fire (2014) present an examination of crossover interference using a large region of Caenorhabditis elegans linkage group V (LGV) as a test interval. In the examined region, the authors observe a gender-dependent difference in the extent of crossover interference, with near-complete interference in meiotic events from the oocyte lineage and incomplete interference in meiotic events from the sperm lineage.

Members in the News

The February 2014 issue of The Scientist includes a profile of GSA member Abby Dernburg (Univ of California, Berkeley, and HHMI), referring to her as a “meiosis maven.” Dernburg presented Larry Sandler Memorial Lecture at GSA's Drosophila Research Conference in 1997 based on her doctoral thesis using Drosophila, then switched to studying chromosomes in C. elegans for her postdoc. She received GSA’s Edward Novitski Prize in 2011, in part for her work on the mechanisms of chromosome pairing in C. elegans.

The PBS NewsHour has featured the research of several GSA members who conduct research on innate immunity using C. elegans as a model system. The coverage focuses on research conducted in the laboratory of Dennis Kim (MIT), including grad students Doug Cattie, Zoë Hilbert, and Joshua Meisel. This story is part of a new effort by the PBS NewsHour to cover more basic research, thanks to support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Education and Professional Development

The Summer Science Program (SSP) is “seeking innovative, college-level curricula to expand its residential program for highly motivated and gifted high school students.”  The authors of two curricula will be awarded the $2,000 SSP Curriculum Prize along with funding to test and launch their curricula. The SSP is a 39-day residential program for gifted high school students from around the world, immersing them in collaborative research.  Curricula proposals are due on May 31, 2014.


Included in this Issue:

January Issue

February Issue



Research Associate, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Clinical Cytogeneticist, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

Full time Genetic Counseling position, Kaiser Permanente, San Jose, CA

PhD Position for Genetic Analysis of Extracellular Vesicle Budding in C. elegans embryos using Light and Electron Microscopy, University of Würzburg, Germany

Assistant/Associate Professor of Biology, York College/CUNY, Jamaica, NY

Laboratory Technician in mouse laboratory, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Assistant Professor, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Research Positions in Biostatistics/Computational Biology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC

Chairperson, Department of Genetics, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Biology of Aging Faculty Position - Assistant Professor, Brown University, Providence, RI

Assistant Professor in Systems Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Post-doctoral fellowship in cell cycle evolution, CNRS Institute of Genetics of Development of Rennes, Rennes, France

Bioinformatics Scientist, Tute Genomics, Provo, UT

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Hands-on Opportunities to Promote Engagement in Science (HOPES) program is hosting “Fostering Partnerships Among Colleges, Universities, and K-12 Schools,” a free workshop being held Saturday, April 26, 2014, in San Diego, California.  High school science teachers, administrators, college/university faculty, researchers, and anyone interested in forming partnerships to bring inquiry-based curricula into K-12 classrooms are encouraged to attend.  Register by March 7, 2014.

The Global Young Academy released a report from their “Global State of Young Scientists” project, which examines working conditions and professional development opportunities for the global community of early career scientistsScience Careers summarized the report, examining the big picture which included the importance of mentoring and career success factors.

Funding and Fellowships

The American Society of Human Genetics is accepting applications for two Fellowship programs: the Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship, and the Genetics & Education Fellowship, which is new for 2014.  The Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship is “for genetics professionals with an advanced degree who are early in their careers and interested in the development and implementation of genetics-related health and research policies at a national level. The fellow will have the opportunity to participate in policy analysis … and to work directly within the U.S. Congress.” The Genetics & Education Fellowship is “designed as a bridge for genetics professionals wishing to transition to education careers” and includes several unique experiences that will allow the Fellow to learn about education initiatives and community involvement.  Applications for both are due on April 25, 2014.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is accepting applications for Investigator Awards in its recently-announced Data-Driven Discovery (DDD) Initiative.  The Initiative represents “a major investment in individuals who are pushing the frontiers of a new kind of data-driven science—inherently multidisciplinary, combining natural sciences with methods from statistics and computer science. The competition seeks innovators with bold ideas and a willingness to strike out in new directions and take risks with the potential for huge payoffs in data-intensive science.”  During 2014, the foundation’s DDD Initiative expects to make about 15 awards to selected investigators at approximately $1.5 million each ($200-300K/year for five years).  Pre-applications will be accepted until February 24, 2014.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program has two tracks of interest to GSA members: the Noyce Scholarship Track, which provides funds to higher education institutions to support programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students to earn teaching credentials and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts; and the NSF Teaching Fellowship/Master Teaching Fellowship Track, which supports STEM professionals who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master’s programs leading to certification.  Full proposals are due by March 5, 2014.

NSF has issued the fiscal year 2014 program solicitation for the Plant Genome Research Program, which has four focus areas: genomics-empowered plant research to address fundamental questions in plant sciences; development of tools and resources for the plant genome research community; Mid-Career Investigator Awards in Plant Genome Research to increase the number of investigators in plant science who were originally trained in fields other than plant genomics; and Advancing Basic Research in Economically Important Crop Plants. Proposals are due on April 28, 2014.


NIH Director Francis Collins and Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak wrote a comment in Nature discussing initiatives that NIH is considering to enhance the reproducibility of pre-clinical research.  These include: a training module on reproducibility and transparency as well as responsible conduct of research; a checklist to be used by reviewers for a more systematic evaluation of grant proposals, including checking the cited publications that a proposal is based on; and the development of a Data Discovery Index, which would allow investigators to access unpublished primary data that would be cited if used in new work.

Hannah Valantine, MD, has been named NIH’s first Chief Office for Scientific Workforce Diversity.  Dr. Valantine “will lead NIH’s effort to diversify the biomedical research workforce by developing a vision and comprehensive strategy to expand recruitment and retention, and promote inclusiveness and equality throughout the biomedical research enterprise.”  Dr. Valantine currently serves as Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Leadership at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

And finally…

Recent highlights from the GSA’s social networking platforms.  Keep up with the buzz by joining us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:

Do you have a brief announcement to submit to GSA e-News?
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 14, 2014.  Send items to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.