May 22, 2013


The 19th International C. elegans Meeting early registration deadline is today, Wednesday, May 22. This is shaping up to be the largest C. elegans meeting in years, with more than 1,100 poster presentations, over 200 plenary and platform talks, numerous educational events, and a Keynote Address by Victor Ambros (Univ of Mass Med School). As an added feature this year, the registration list links directly to talks or posters that attendees are presenting.   It’s a busy meeting, so check out the Schedule of Events for all of the details! Register now before registration fees increase at the end of the day; the UCLA housing deadline is June 7.  We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles!

The Genetics Society of America is one of 78 original signers of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), released on May 16, 2013. DORA is a set of recommendations designed to improve the evaluation of scientific research by funding agencies, academic institutions, and individuals. The Journal Impact Factor is, for many, the primary means for assessing the perceived quality of published research; however, impact factors (invented as a bibliometric tool in the 1960s) were never intended for use as a single measure of scientific quality, but rather as a measure of journal usage. DORA identifies some of the deficiencies in the Journal Impact Factor and recommends new practices in research assessment. Individuals and other organizations are invited to add their names to those supporting DORA and the misuse of Journal Impact Factors.

The GSA Journals

GENETICS welcomes Karen Arndt as Senior Editor (SE) of its Gene Expression section. Arndt is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh with expertise in analyzing the proteins and mechanisms that regulate RNA polymerase II transcription and chromatin structure in eukaryotic cells. She has been an Associate Editor for GENETICS since January 2011. We’re pleased to have Arndt on the Board of Senior Editors!

Arndt replaces SE and long-term GSA member Fred Winston (Harvard Medical School), who has served as an SE since 2008. A past GSA President, Vice-President, and Treasurer, Winston has just been appointed as Chair of GSA’s Publications Committee. He is well-known for his speed in handling manuscripts and decisions, his sage advice, and thoughtful contributions to editorial discussions around complex issues in scholarly publishing. Along with R. Scott Hawley, Winston was also instrumental in co-organizing the GSA’s 2010 Model Organisms to Human Biology conference. He also served as Chair of GSA’s Nominating Committee in 1997 and co-chaired two GSA Yeast Genetics Meetings in the mid 1990s.  Congratulations to both Winston and Arndt, and we’re thankful for their service to the GSA!


GSA Members in the News

GSA congratulates its members selected as Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators. These four researchers were among 27 of the nation’s top biomedical researchers chosen from a pool of nearly 1,200 applicants.  The five-year appointment includes full salary, benefits, and a research budget and is intended to help scientists move their research in creative new directions. The GSA Members among this elite group are:

  • Hopi Hoekstra (Harvard Univ)
  • Neil Hunter (UC-Davis)
  • Harmit Malik (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Ctr)
  • Yukiko Yamashita (Univ of Michigan)

Awards and Competitions

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science (FWIS) partnership, created to recognize and promote women in science, has issued a call for nominations for its 2014 International Awards (note–the website requires a login). The FWIS programs reward established women scientists whose outstanding achievements have contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge, and provide support to promising young women scientists with worthy, viable projects. The deadline for nominations is now Friday, June 14.  Scientists interested in doing research in another country may also submit applications to the FWIS International Fellowship Programme by May 30, 2013.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is accepting artwork for its 2013 BIO-ART Scientific Image Competition.  We encourage anyone with original, captivating high-resolution images or videos to submit an entry and help to engage and educate the general public and policy makers about federally funded biological research.  The deadline to enter the competition is July 11, 2013.

Funding News

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has provided more detail about how sequestration will impact the biomedical research community. The agency will operate at a level of $29.15 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013, a decrease of about five percent from FY 2012. NIH expects to fund 700 fewer new and competing research grants and will trim continuing grants, as previously announced. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences expects to fund 210 fewer new awards than it did last year, with an anticipated success rate of 18%.

NIH is making some tweaks to its Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) award program. In particular, the agency will limit candidates applying for the program to no more than four years of postdoctoral research training at the time of application. K99 awardees will be expected to remain in their mentored training phase for 12-24 months before transitioning to the R00 phase of the award.


The U.S. Senate has confirmed the nomination of Ernest Moniz as Secretary of Energy on a vote of 97–0. Moniz, who previously served as Undersecretary of Energy during the Clinton Administration, is a theoretical nuclear physicist and director of the MIT Energy Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Moniz will succeed Nobel laureate Steven Chu.

As reported in the last e-News, the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has raised questions about five grants funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), including asking for copies of reviewer comments on those grants. NSF has rebuffed those requests, explaining the essential role of confidentiality in ensuring that reviewers offer their candid comments on the quality of proposals.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have introduced legislation to establish an official Science Laureate of the United States. The unpaid honorary position would be appointed by the President for a 1–2 year term from nominees recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The Science Laureate would be empowered to speak to Americans on the importance of science, both broadly and on specific scientific issues. To encourage your elected officials to co-sponsor the legislation, respond to an Action Alert from the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Other Meetings of Interest

Join the American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR) at its Grant Writing Skills Workshop on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. This full day course will take place at FASEB Campus.  The Workshop is designed for faculty at all career stages who are preparing grant applications to the NIH, and focuses on communicating key elements of successful NIH proposals through the use of didactics and experimental learning.  The workshop is limited to 75 participants. Register today to save your spot.

The National Institute for General Medical Science (NIGMS) has announced the annual meeting for the National Centers for Systems Biology (NCSB).  Taking place from July 11-12, 2013, in Bethesda, Maryland, this meeting will feature presentations for a wide audience about the status and achievements of the program.  The meeting is open to the public and is an excellent opportunity for PIs to meet with NIGMS Program Directors. Registration deadline is July 8, 2013.

And finally…

Some recent highlights from the GSA social networking platforms.  Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:

  • The Australian website The Conversation continues its series on animals in research. The most recent article focuses on C. elegans and is authored by GSA member Hannah Nicholas.
  • Science Careers reports on institutional programs that allow scientists to jump right from their PhD to running their own lab. Among the programs highlighted are Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Fellows and UCSF’s Sandler Fellows.
  • News from Oregon about how zebrafish are being used to study autism–just another example of the versatility of model organisms.
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: May 31, 2013.  Send items to Beth Ruedi,