April 2, 2014

Society News

Last chance for graduate student and postdoctoral members of GSA to apply for GSA's DeLill Nasser Travel Awards for Professional Development in Genetics!  Awards of $1,000 each will be awarded for travel to national and international conferences or laboratory courses. These conferences and courses should take place between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014. Please note that this includes—but is not limited to—the following GSA Conferences:

The deadline for applications is this Friday, April 4, 2014. Don’t miss the chance to apply for this prestigious award that could make a difference to your research and career!

The GSA Board of Directors has approved a White Paper that provides input from the Society to the strategic planning effort being undertaken by NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The White Paper follows from a visit by NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch to the Fall 2013 GSA Board meeting and Dr. Lorsch’s interest in hearing from GSA on issues of concern to the genetics community. GSA offers its thanks to a task force convened by 2014 GSA President Michael Lynch for its hard work in drafting the White Paper: Task Force Chair Roger Innes (Indiana Univ) and members Nels Elde (Univ of Utah), David W. Hall (Univ of Georgia), Denise Montell (UC Santa Barbara), and Anne Villeneuve (Stanford Univ).

Abstract submission and registration are now open for the 2014 Yeast Genetics Meeting at the University of Washington, Seattle, July 29–August 3, 2014. In addition to the many sessions selected from your submitted abstracts, the meeting will feature several special presentations: the Lee Hartwell Lecture, presented by George Church (Harvard Univ); the Ira Herskowitz Award Lecture, presented by Olga Troyanskaya (Princeton Univ); Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jeremy Thorner (UC Berkeley); and the Winge-Lindegren Address presented by Anita Hopper (Ohio State Univ).  In addition, there will be a special presentation by NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch, a tribute to Fred Sherman by Gerry Fink, exciting workshops, and a plethora of education and professional development events.

Abstract submission and registration opens next week for the 15th International Xenopus Conference, August 24-28, 2014, in Pacific Grove, California. This conference, which is new to the GSA family, focuses on the model at the forefront of efforts in vertebrate systems biology, the African clawed frog (Xenopus), which has assisted in major advances in our understanding of vertebrate development, cell biology, signal transduction, neurobiology, and much more.  Over 90 talks and 200 posters will be selected from submitted abstracts!

The 55th Annual Drosophila Research Conference was a huge success!  If you missed it, here is a recap courtesy of social media.  Also check out the photo album from the conference on the GSA Facebook page. Congrats to the winners of the GSA Poster Awards:

  • Undergraduates: First Place – Kurtresha Worden (Univ of Nevada, Reno); Second Place – Dallas Criscoe (NC State Univ); Third Place – Robert Yamulla (Franklin & Marshall Coll)
  • Graduate Students: First Place – Maureen P. Cetera (Univ of Chicago); Second Place – Gavin R. Rice (UC Davis); Third Place – Sarah Neuman (Univ of Wisconsin–Madison)
  • Postdocs: First Place – Melanie I. Worley (UC Berkeley); Second Place – Malini Natarajan (Stowers Inst for Med Research); Third Place – Naoki Okamoto (RIKEN).

The GSA Journals

Loblolly pine genome is largest ever sequenced

The massive genome of the loblolly pine—around seven times bigger than the human genome—is the largest genome sequenced to date and the most complete conifer genome sequence ever published. This achievement marks the first big test of a new analysis method that can speed up genome assembly by compressing the raw sequence data 100-fold. The draft genome is described in the March 2014 issue of GENETICS (Zimin et al. 2014 and Wegrzyn et al. 2014) and the journal Genome Biology (Neale et al. 2014). Read some of the coverage in the Christian Science Monitor, The Scientist, and NBC News.

Loblolly pine is the most commercially important tree species in the United States and the source of most American paper products. The tree is also being developed as a feedstock for biofuel.

The new sequence confirmed that the loblolly genome is so large because it is crammed full of invasive DNA elements that copied themselves around the genome. Approximately 82% of the genome is made up of these and other repetitive fragments of sequence.  The genome also revealed the location of genes that may be involved in fighting off pathogens, which will help scientists understand more about disease resistance in pines.

New Fish on the Block

The medaka, or Japanese rice fish, is a century-old genetic model on the rise again. Long studied by scientists in Japan, it has been rediscovered by the wider research community over the last decade as a flexible tool for vertebrate genetics. Part of the appeal is the medaka’s amenability to inbreeding. In the latest issue of G3: Genes|Genomes|GeneticsSpivakov et al. lay the groundwork for a planned near-isogenic panel of 200 medaka lines derived from a single wild population. The authors sampled individuals from irrigation channels and characterized the genomes of eight sets of breeding pairs and their F1 progeny. These founders were found to be genetically diverse, with no detectable population structure and short linkage disequilibrium profiles, all promising characteristics for high resolution mapping in an isogenic panel. 


Included in this Issue:

March Issue

March Issue



Principal Research Scientist / Center Director, Center for Applied Clinical Genomics, Temple University, Wilmington, DE

Postdoc position in Developmental and Cancer Genetics, CECAD Cologne, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, University of Richmond, VA

Research Associate, Next Generation Sequencing, Good Start Genetics, Inc., Cambridge, MA

Postdoc Statistical Genetics and Genomics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Senior Faculty Position in Human and Cancer Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

Visiting Assistant Professor, Stetson University Biology Department, DeLand, FL

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Scientist, Genetic Research, Good Start Genetics, Inc., Cambridge, MA

Forest Genetics Research Leader, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA

Lecturer in Discipline, Biotechnology, Columbia University - Department of Biological Sciences, New York, NY

Clinical Geneticist Position, Shodair Children's Hospital, Helena, MT

Visiting Assistant Professor - Biology, Willamette University, Salem, OR

Members in the News

Several members of the GSA community will be formally inducted into the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy as part of its 2014 class of elected fellows. The AACR Academy was established to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer; fellows are elected through peer-review and their work has had a major impact on the field. Congratulations to former GSA President and GSA Medal recipient David Botstein (Princeton Univ); GSA Medal recipient Stephen J. Elledge (Harvard Med Sch and HHMI); GSA Medal recipient Andrew Z. Fire (Stanford Univ); and Richard D. Kolodner (Ludwig Inst for Cancer Research and UC San Diego).

GSA member Jef Boeke (NYU Lagone Med Cntr) was a guest on Science Friday, talking about engineering life through synthetic biology: “Scientists are programming bacteria with nanoparticles and custom-made genomes to create new organisms with novel functions. Researchers Tim Lu and Jef Boeke discuss how scientists and engineers build these modified organisms and where synthetic biology is headed.” Boeke’s efforts to develop a completely synthetic yeast chromosome was also highlighted in a Los Angeles Times story this past week.

Education and Professional Development

If you use bioinformatics in your research work, the Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education & Training (GOBLET) would like to ask you to take part in a short survey.  A global training initiative is being launched by the GOBLET group of international bioinformatics organizations to help life scientists improve their skills and increase their confidence in using bioinformatics in their research. To help GOBLET best meet your training needs, please take a moment to complete the short survey. For more information, please don't hesitate to contact any of the GOBLET Executives at exec@mygoblet.org.

Postdocs who will soon be seeking their first independent position
may wish to attend the 2014 Postdoctoral Preparation Institute, June 5–6 in Bethesda, MD.  The institute will have approximately 120 participants and will cover topics such as making the right career choice, finding the right institution, applying for a position, succeeding in the job interview and seminar, negotiating a start-up package, and more.  Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about other scientific careers outside of academia. All eligible applicants selected to attend will receive travel awards to facilitate their participation. The application deadline is April 18, 2014.

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The L’Oreal USA for Women in Science Fellowship program is now accepting applications.  This national awards program recognizes five women early in their scientific careers, and provides up to $60,000 to support postdoctoral research.  Applicants must have completed their PhD and started a postdoc before September 1, 2014; be based in the U.S.; and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  The application deadline is May 19, 2014.


GSA is looking for volunteers who would like to be considered for appointment to one of FASEB's Science Policy subcommittees. These subcommittees help develop FASEB policy statements and initiatives as issue-specific elements of the FASEB Science Policy Committee, FASEB’s policy “think tank.  Subcommittees typically meet by conference call on a quarterly basis, but may meet more or less frequently based on the status of specific projects. Subcommittee members serve three-year terms that are renewable.  If you would like GSA to consider suggesting you for appointment to one of these subcommittees, please fill out this statement of interest form by April 23, 2014.

Story Landis, director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), has posted an analysis of NINDS funding trends, finding a striking decline in the percentage of support for basic research over the last few years. The data included in the blog post suggest the cause is in the distribution of applications received, not the decisions on what to fund. In reiterating NINDS’s strong support for basic research, Dr. Landis expresses concern that the community may erroneously think the institute wants only disease-focused proposals.

France A. Córdova
has been sworn in as the 14th director of the National Science Foundation. An astronomer, Dr. Córdova was previously president of Purdue University. Her term as NSF Director will last for six years, and Dr. Córdova says she is “especially eager to engage with the public on science and its importance to our nation's prosperity and global leadership.”

A new report from the Center for American Progress discusses the danger of funding cuts at NIH to U.S. leadership in biomedical research.  This report joins a legion of others warning lawmakers and the public alike about the dire effects of funding cuts on the country’s ability to remain pioneers in research.

And finally…

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

  • An interesting profile of Sir Edwin Southern, creator of the Southern blot, in (of all places) the Financial Times.
  • The National Science Communication Institute featured a profile of science filmmaker Alexis Gambis, who told the behind-the-scenes story of his debut feature film The Fly Room at GSA’s Drosophila Research Conference last week.
  • NSF’s Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences has released a new issue of its newsletter, highlighting what’s new in the division, including the work of several GSA members funded by NSF.
  • A panel of experts led by cardiologist Clyde Yancy (Northwestern Univ) is poised to offer input to NIH on the agency's role in precollege science education. As ScienceInsider notes, this is a new focus for NIH, as “the agency has argued that its primary mission is to fund research that will enhance the nation’s health, and it has focused its education and training efforts at the graduate and undergraduate level.” 
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: April 11, 2014.  Send items to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.