FacebooktwitterlinkedinYoutubeGoogle +

April 29, 2015
Society News

Nominations are open for the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award, which honors the ground-breaking contributions of Dr. Rosalind Franklin by supporting new generations of women geneticists. The Gruber Foundation will fund two career development research awards of $75,000, distributed over three years to women geneticists in their first three years of an independent faculty-level position. Eligible candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by a colleague or mentor. The award is administered by GSA and the American Society of Human Genetics. The nomination deadline is June 5, 2015.

Do you or someone you know have a passion for science and a commitment to advocacy, outreach, and communications? We hope you’ll consider joining the GSA staff as Policy and Communications Manager to help promote the mission of the Society and the priorities of the genetics community. Applications are now being accepted for this important position that will help GSA to be more active—and proactive—in representing the collective needs of the GSA community, including efforts to explain the value of genetics and model organisms to policymakers and others. If you are interested, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. We also encourage you to spread the word about this opportunity to colleagues at your institution and beyond.

Among other responsibilities, the Policy and Communications Manager will support the work of GSA’s Public Policy Committee. Thanks to former GSA President Allan Spradling for agreeing to serve as committee chair and help promote enhanced Society efforts to advocate on behalf of our members.

The GSA Journals

What do you mean, "epigenetic"? In the April issue of GENETICS, a Perspectives article by Carrie Deans and Keith Maggert explores the history behind the multiple, inconsistent definitions of epigenetics in use today. The authors explain how these ambiguities bias the field and suggest potential solutions to this long-standing problem.

  What Do You Mean, “Epigenetic”?
Carrie Deans and Keith A. Maggert, Genetics April 2015 199:887-896

Multidendric PVD sensory neuron (green) in C. elegans.
Image credit: Eugenia Olesnicky
Branching Dendrites: Dendrites often have an elaborate branched morphology to cast a wide receiving net for information from other cells or the environment. In the April issue of G3, Antonacci et al.identify a core set of RNA-binding proteins important for dendrite morphogenesis in the PVD multidendritic sensory neuron in C. elegans. Orthologs of these proteins have been implicated in dendrite development in Drosophila, and human orthologs are expressed in the brain, suggesting they may also regulate dendrite morphogenesis in humans.

  Conserved RNA-Binding Proteins Required for Dendrite Morphogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans Sensory Neurons
Simona Antonacci, Daniel Forand, Margaret Wolf, Courtney Tyus, Julia Barney, Leah Kellogg, Margo A. Simon, Genevieve Kerr, Kristen L. Wells, Serena Younes, Nathan T. Mortimer, Eugenia C. Olesnicky, and Darrell J. Killian
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics April 2015 5:639-653

Are you tired of reformatting manuscripts for different journals? We feel your pain! GSA Journals:
  • Accept initial submissions in any format: Save time and get your work reviewed faster! Both GENETICS and G3 accept initial submissions in any format.
  • Offer a one-touch manuscript transfer: Because GENETICS and G3 are sister journals, submissions to GENETICS that report high-quality and useful findings—but lack the broad appeal, significance, or novelty of a published GENETICS article—may be offered a transfer to G3. This seamless process either guarantees review at G3, or allows G3 to use GENETICS reviews and offer decisions at G3 within days.

Genes to Genomes: The GSA Journals Blog

Forest Forecasts
: In 2009, after five years parching under the arid blue skies of Calcena in northeastern Spain, dozens of neat rows of maritime pine seedlings had grown unevenly. Some of the seedlings had died years ago, some were stunted but hanging on, while others grew tall and green. The trees were not in their native soil. They had been grown from seeds collected at 19 sites around Spain, Portugal, France, and Morocco, and their growth was being monitored at a single site with an extreme climate to help predict the future of their species. Read more about improving forest range shift models as the southern European climate grows hotter and drier.

Members in the News

Several members of the GSA community have been elected by their peers to membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of their distnguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to NAS is considered one of the highest honors for scientists. Congratulations to:

  • Sue Biggins (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
  • Aravinda Chakravarti (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
  • Alan G. Hinnebusch (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)
  • Maria Jasin (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)
  • Jeannie T. Lee (HHMI, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School)
  • Jeffrey F. Miller (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Danny Reinberg (HHMI and New York University School of Medicine)
  • Rodney Rothstein (Columbia University Medical Center)
  • Jeremy Thorner (University of California, Berkeley)

See the GSA website for more info about the new NAS members. [more...]

Mario Capecchi
Longtime GSA member Mario Capecchi was recently honored by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) with its Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research. Capecchi’s notable achievements include a pivotal role in creating knockout technology in mouse-derived embryonic stem cells and pioneering studies involving the Hox gene family. [more…]

Four GSA members have been elected as Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. Congratulations to:
  • Joseph Ecker (HHMI–GBMF Investigator, Salk Institute of Biological Sciences; GSA Beadle Award Winner, 2011);
  • Stanley Fields (HHMI and University of Washington; GSA Vice-President; Senior Editor of GENETICS; Chair, GSA Membership Committee);
  • Michael Snyder (Stanford School of Medicine; Chair, GSA Conferences Committee, former member, GSA Board of Directors);
  • and Stephen T. Warren (Emory University School of Medicine).
Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected “thinkers and doers” from each generation, from George Washington to Bruce Springsteen. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel Laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.  [more…]

Included in this Issue:

April Issue

April Issue


Policy & Communications Manager, Genetics Society of America, Bethesda, MD

Genomics Technologist, GeneDx, Inc, NJ

Laboratory Automation Scientist, GeneDx, Inc, Elmwood Park, NJ


Director, Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology (GDB), NIGMS, Bethesda, MD

Clinical Research Coordinator Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Akron Children’s Hospital Seeks a Director of Genetics and a Clinical Geneticist, Akron Children's Hospital, Akron, OH


Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Heart Failure Genetics, Genome Institute of Singapore, Singapore

Fungal RefSeq Curator, Computercraft Corporation

Laboratory Manager, Brown University, Providence, RI

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Iowa, Iowa city, IA

Division Chief of Medical Genetics, UC San Francisco, CA

Congratulations to GSA member Sean Curran for receiving a 2015 Davis Hanson Thorell Family Research Award from the University of Southern California. Curran was one of two junior faculty members to receive the award, which includes a $25,000 grant for a one-year pilot research project. Curran’s funding will support the translation of his C. elegans research into mouse models.

Education and Professional Development

Informational Interview
How do you conduct a good informational interview? (Image credit: wikihow)

Informational interviews can be a powerful career tool for job seekers, but do you know how to conduct them? This handy step-by-step article demystifies the informational interview with a structured approach to the process and practical tips.   

Help solve the mystery of the disappearing PhDs! If you received your PhD between 2004 and 2014, please fill out this survey from Harvard Law School. The results will result in “enhanced understanding of your career options through the publication of a career map for PhDs in science.”

The American Society for Microbiology is accepting applications for the ASM Kadner Institute, which gives individuals personalized guidance in grant preparation and review, and a closely guided experience for choosing and succeeding in a microbiology career. The application deadline is May 31, 2015.

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The American Society of Microbiology is accepting applications for the Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship, aimed to “increase the number of underrepresented groups completing doctoral degrees in the microbiological sciences.” Applications are due May 1, 2015.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has launched its fifth annual “Faces of Biology” photography contest. Entries must depict a person engaged in some sort of biological research. The winning photo will be featured on the cover of BioScience, and the first place winner will receive $250, a one year membership to AIBS, and a subscription to BioScience. The entry deadline is September 30, 2015.   
Vilcek Prize
Vilcek Prize
(Image credit: Vilcek Foundation)

Are you a young, foreign-born researcher working in the United States? The Vilcek Foundation is seeking applications for the 2016 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science, open to biomedical researchers age 38 and under born outside the U.S. Three $50,000 cash prizes will be awarded, and the winners will be honored at a ceremony in New York City in April 2016. Apply by June 15, 2015. 

NSF continues its call for nominations for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring until June 19, 2015. Nominations for “individual” and “organizational” awards are encouraged; “PAESMEM awardees serve as leaders in the national effort” to fully develop STEM human resources.

The NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) full proposal deadline is May 22, 2015, for proposals requiring access to Antarctica. All other REU site proposals are due August 26, 2015.   


Calls for increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continue to expand. This past week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), wrote in The New York Times to call for doubling the NIH budget, saying “it’s irresponsible and shortsighted, not prudent, to let financing for basic research dwindle." And Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said that he would use his position as chair of a key Senate Appropriations subcommittee to boost funding for NIH.

Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act has become a bit of a political hot potato with Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology offering competing versions of a bill that provides oversight over the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and other federal science programs. Among the areas of contention are deep cuts to NSF research in social sciences and climate change. The GOP bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote; its next stop will be consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Potato Conspiracy
The Daily Show talks potatoes

Genetically modified organisms have been making the news in recent weeks. The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi explored the conversation about a new strain of potato, which has been engineered to produce less cancer-causing acrylamide and to be more resistant to bruising. The New York Times also featured an op-ed from a former opponent of genetically modified foods who now accepts the scientific consensus on the safety and benefits on GMOs: “I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s…. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.”

The Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS) is hosting a Capitol Hill Day June 10, 2015, seeking to strengthen communication between scientists and members of Congress. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with legislators to share stories about the practice of science and the impact scientific findings have on human health. Participants are also invited to attend a luncheon briefing of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus. Applications must be submitted by May 1, 2015, and selected participants will be notified by May 8. Limited travel awards to attend this event are available.

Community Announcements

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is seeking candidates for the position of Director, Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology (GDB). Applications are being accepted at least through late May. The new GDB director will succeed Judith Greenberg, who was recently promoted to NIGMS deputy director. Longtime GSA member Bill Gelbart is one of only two external member of the search committee.

The United States Culture Collection Network/CABI Workshop on Strain Maintenance and Preservation will be held at Kansas State University, August 13-15, 2015. The two-day program includes lectures and practical demonstrations of techniques with opportunities for hands-on practice. Register soon, as the workshop is limited to 20 participants.

And finally...

Thanks for helping us reach 3,800 likes on Facebook and 5,300 followers on Twitter!
Keep up with highlights like these by joining GSA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+:

  • Hutterite Family
    Members of the Hutterite ethno-religious group are descended from a small group of founding individuals.
    Reprinted with permission from Nature News.
    (Kevin Fleming/Corbis)
    Nature News highlighted a recent GENETICS article in “Genomes Carry a Heavy Burden.”
  • Check out how students and educators across the country honored National DNA Day, celebrated on April 25.
  • From the lab to the taproom: read about one biochemist’s journey to opening a brewery that honors postdocs.
  • How is The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers working on its 10th anniversary? Science Careers takes a look.
  • Read about the first full genome sequencing of the mountain gorilla.
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 8, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.