June 5, 2013


The Genetics Society of America is pleased to announce the selection of 5 early career researchers – one graduate student and four postdoctoral researchers – as recipients of a fall 2013 DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics. The award is a $1,000 travel grant for each researcher to attend any national or international meeting, conference or laboratory course that will enhance his or her career. Congratulations to:

  • Brian Arnold, Graduate Student (Harvard Univ)
  • Sara Beese-Sims, Postdoctoral Researcher (Harvard Med Sch)
  • Kingsley Boateng, Postdoctoral Researcher (NIH/NIDDK)
  • Kerry Geiler-Samerotte, Postdoctoral Researcher (New York Univ)
  • Aleeza Gerstein, Postdoctoral Researcher (Univ of Minnesota)

Registrants for the 19th International C. elegans Meeting at UCLA, did you remember to secure conference housing? The UCLA housing deadline is this Friday, June 7. We hope you’re looking forward to the largest C. elegans meeting in years, which includes hundreds of exciting talks and posters as well as the always entertaining Worm Show.

The GSA Journals

Sequestration has hit geneticists hard in many ways, and scientific publishing is no exception. GSA Journals Executive Editor Tracey DePellegrin writes for the Society for Scholarly Publishing about sequestration’s effects on morale, career outlooks, and scientific publishing. The article includes insight from GSA member and Stanford Department of Genetics Chair Mike Snyder, and also examines NIH’s Francis Collins taking to Twitter to engage the community.

Weinberg et al. 2013 is the most-read article in GENETICS right now.  The article discusses how the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex (aka vertebrate BAF complex) selectively affects serotonergic neuron differentiation. Using C. elegans, the authors provide the first evidence for the involvement of the BAF complex in neuronal identity acquisition and BAF’s cell-type-specific role in development. Understanding the basic features of the functions of these complexes is vital, as mutations in BAF have been implicated in tumor development and neurological conditions.

Do you have a Mutant Screen you want to publish quickly? G3 has launched an easy format for publishing mutant screen reports, and provides guidelines for a standard template and criteria for publication.  G3’s first Mutant Screen Report, Gazy et al. 2013, was published in the May 2013 issue; more Mutant Screen Reports are in the works. Submit yours for review today!


This month’s GENETICS includes another Primer designed to help use primary research articles in the classroom. The Primer by Smukowski Heil and Noor shows how to use an article from Singh et al. (2013) investigating the frequency of recombination events across the Drosophila genome, and helps to introduce or reinforce concepts such as recombination, variation in recombination rate, genome sequencing, and features of the genome. This is the fifth Primer published in GENETICS are more are in the pipeline for future issues.

GSA Members in the News

GSA members Michael Rosbash (HHMI/Brandeis Univ) and Michael W. Young (Rockefeller Univ) and GSA Medal recipient Jeffrey C. Hall (Univ of Maine) will share the $1 million 2013 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for "their discovery of molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms." The laureates conducted a series of groundbreaking studies on mutant fruit flies, finding clues to these rhythms not only in flies, but also in humans.

Congratulations to Dr. Brenda Andrews, G3's Editor-in-Chief, on receiving the inaugural JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award from the University of Toronto!

Education and Career Development

Gina Stewart, a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education, offers advice for science PhDs to improve their “soft” skills for jobs outside of academia. This includes deciding when to lead vs. follow, working well with a team, assessing the politics of the workplace, and conveying science to a lay audience: “Academe is an insular world, and conducting scientific research can be a relatively solitary endeavor, but in order to succeed in an industry job, you must be able to work and communicate not only with other scientists, but also with nonscientists.” While the article is geared towards those wishing to leave academia, these skills are useful to any career scientist!  

GSA PREP is an excellent place for educators to submit quality material they have developed for their courses. Because you need only submit the resource and a short justificationnot an extensive evaluation of its effectiveness—there’s no need to seek approval from an institutional review board or gather and analyze detailed assessment data.  Additionally, the turn-around time for peer review is three weeks!  GSA PREP is accepting submissions of Laboratory Exercises, Laboratory Protocols, In-class/Lecture Exercises, and Images/Animations.  See the instructions for authors for more details.

Awards and Competitions

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is now accepting applications for their 2013 Hands-On Opportunities to Promote Engagement in Science (HOPES) seed grants.  There will be ten grants of up to $2,000 available to partnerships between K-12 educators and one or more university, college, or institutional research scientists.   The long-term goal of the program is to facilitate partnerships between local K-12 teachers and scientists working in nearby institutes of higher education.  A description of the application procedures is here; the deadline for applications is June 21.

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 biological research.  The deadline to enter the competition is July 11, 2013.

Funding News

The 5% cut in the NIH budget due to sequestration will inevitably have a negative impact on biological research; however, trying to assess the impact has not been straightforward (but see below).  Individual laboratories are still waiting to hear if their grants will receive funding (not a guarantee with even the highest score); layoffs are predicted but may not happen until after fiscal year 2013. The public may also not yet see the dramatic negative impact that sequestration is having on the progress of medical research; NIH director Francis Collins appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews recently to talk about what is being affected and what will happen down the road.

GSA is working with our colleagues from the scientific community to find out directly from the research community about the impact of tightly constrained support for science on their research. The survey includes both the immediate effect of sequestration as well as the tight budgets for federal agencies over the past few years. We encourage you to complete the brief survey yourself and encourage your colleagues to do as well. Your stories will help GSA and other organizations to make the case for science funding on Capitol Hill.

In the same vein, three university presidents wrote in The Huffington Post about the need for strong federal investment to power the nation's research enterprise. "To those members of Congress who haven't yet made research funding a priority, we urge you to heed the flashing check engine light on the nation's dashboard before it's too late."

And finally…

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

  • Examine the complicated fungal ecosystemon your feet.
  • GSA member Michael Hendricks, who is moving to Canada to advance his career, was quoted in a CNBC report on sequestration describing why the US is no longer considered the “best place to be” for research by many.
  • San Jose Mercury News reported on Genetics 210 at Stanford School of Medicine, in which students look at their own genomes.
  • The Australian website, The Conversation, continues its look at animals in research with a focus on the mouse.
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: June 14, 2013.  Send items to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.