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July 8, 2015
Society News

Last chance!
Student and postdoc members should submit applications for GSA Trainee-Organized Symposia by July 10, 2015. This new program provides up to $2,000 in funding for local and regional symposia organized by GSA trainee members in subject areas relevant to the GSA mission. See the website for details.

Louisa Stark (left) receives the Jones Award from GSA Board Member Anne Villeneuve.

GSA was honored to present Louisa Stark (University of Utah) with the Society’s Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education at the recent C. elegans meeting. A reminder that nominations are now open for all of GSA’s annual awards.

Did you miss the 2015 Worm Meeting? Check out this social media recap, see who won WormArt15, read Tiffany Timbers’ blog post describing the conference, and don’t forget to watch the Worm Show!

Congratulations to the recipients of GSA Poster Awards at the 20th International C. elegans Meeting, who will be receiving a complementary extension of their GSA membership; winners in each category will also receive a cash prize.
  • Cell Biology
    • Winner: Katherine Lawrence (University of California, Davis). Honorable Mentions: Gunar Fabig (Dresden University of Technology, Germany); Dayana R. D’Amora (York University, Canada).

  • Development and Evolution
    • Winner: Jie Chen (MD Anderson Cancer Center). Honorable Mentions: Sophie P.R. Gilbert (University of Oxford, England); Kimberly Haupt (University of Wisconsin, Madison); Olga Skorobogata (McGill University, Canada).

  • Gene Regulation and Genomics
    • Winner: June Tan (University of Toronto, Canada). Honorable Mentions: Stephen Michael Blazie (Arizona State University); Patricia Abete-Luzi (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Neurobiology
    • Winner: Hiu E. Lau (University of California, San Diego). Honorable Mentions: Andrew Hill (California State University, Northridge); Eyal Itskovits (Hebrew University, Israel); Emily A. Bayer (Columbia University); Sean A. Merrill (University of Utah).

  • Physiology
    • Winner: Matthew Churgin (University of Pennsylvania). Honorable Mentions: Salvador E. Peña (University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry); Jessica Sowa (Baylor College of Medicine); Surojit Sural (University of Michigan).

  • Undergraduate
    • Winner: Karen Jiang (University of California, Los Angeles). Honorable Mentions: Raven Symone Conyers (Washington State University); Caitlin Morris (Lewis and Clark College); Jenna Johnson (Luther College).

Indiegogo campaign perk from "Mendel: The Legacy."

GSA is excited to partner with the Mendel Museum in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Gregor Mendel’s research on plant hybridization, which helped lay the foundation for modern genetics. "Mendel: The Legacy” includes a special event in Brno, Czech Republic, on July 20, 2015, that will include GSA Past President Vicki Chandler and Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society. The event will be webcast worldwide; check the GSA website for more information on July 20. You can also support the event’s Indiegogo campaign and score some great perks.

The GSA Journals

Deep mutational scanning of BRCA1:
Patients seeking certainty in genetic tests often receive a perplexing result. Many people learn they carry a “variant of unknown significance” of a disease-linked gene. Such variants might—or equally might not—increase disease risk. In the latest issue of GENETICS, Starita et al. characterized nearly 2,000 variants of the breast cancer-associated gene BRCA1, demonstrating the potential of deep mutational scanning for sorting out which variants are harmful and which are harmless. Read more at Genes to Genomes.

  Massively Parallel Functional Analysis of BRCA1 RING Domain Variants
Lea M. Starita, David L. Young, Muhtadi Islam, Jacob O. Kitzman, Justin Gullingsrud, Ronald J. Hause, Douglas M. Fowler, Jeffrey D. Parvin, Jay Shendure, and Stanley Fields
Genetics June 2015 200:413-422

Experimental evolution and ecology: In the latest issue of G3, Gasch and Yvert report on the third EMBO-sponsored conference on Experimental Approaches to Evolution and Ecology Using Yeast and Other Model Systems. The meeting covered a wide array of evolutionary and ecological systems, from experimental evolution in yeast to Drosophila genetics, phytoplankton phylogenomics, and microbial interactions in a mammalian host. This article is the first G3 Meeting Report, which are published by invitation. If you have a presubmission inquiry for a particular meeting, please contact g3-gsa@thegsajournals.org.

  Meeting Report on Experimental Approaches to Evolution and Ecology Using Yeast and Other Model Systems
Audrey P. Gasch and Gaël Yvert
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics June 2015 5:1021-1023

Included in this Issue:

June Issue

June Issue


Pediatric Clinical Geneticist, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO

Postdoc Position, CNET- São Paul University -FFCLRP, RibeirãoPreto, Brazil

Director/Assistant Director of R &D, Assay Development, GeneDx, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD

Genetic Counselor II (Lab), Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC

Assistant Director, Mitochondrial and Rare Disorders Program, GeneDx, Gaithersburg, MD

GENETIC COUNSELORS, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL

Assistant Director – Mitochondrial & Rare Disorders, GeneDx, Inc, Gaithersburg, MD

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Postdoctoral position in epigenetics and gene regulation at Institut Pasteur, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Director - DNA Sequencing and Genotyping Core, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

Postdoctoral Research Assistant, CMU College of Medicine, Mount Pleasant, MI

Postdoctoral position to study stem cells and cancer, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA

Research Specialist or Technician, Drosophila neural anatomy and behavior (2 positions), HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA

Scientist, Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center, Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center, Bloomington, IN

Postdoctoral Researcher, LSU Health Sciences Center Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, New Orleans, LA
Genes to Genomes: The GSA Journals Blog

Turning spit and data into treasure: The Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort is a group of more than 100,000 members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan who consented to anonymously share data from their medical records with researchers, along with answers to survey questions on their behavior and background. Participants also shared their DNA—via saliva samples—to help with the project. Read more about the treasure trove of GERA data published in GENETICS in an interview with co-principal investigator Neil Risch.

Caenorhabditis elegans

Guest post: the importance of community: “The worm community is unlike any other research community I have yet to encounter.” Read a guest post by Tiffany Timbers about her participation in GSA’s recent International C. elegans Meeting and the collaborative and fun spirit of the worm community.

Members in the News

Congratulations to GSA member and frequent GENETICS and G3 author Leonid Kruglyak (HHMI and UCLA) for being named to receive the 2015 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). The award honors genetics and genomics researchers who have made significant contributions to the field in the first ten years of an independent research career. Kruglyak will receive his award at the ASHG Annual Meeting this fall in Baltimore. [more…]

Can worms swim? The Wall Street JournaI explains the importance of high-risk research and features GSA member Monica Driscoll (Rutgers), who led research on C. elegans swimming as a means of exercise. Investigating “swimming worms” led to the discovery of a mutant strain that increases production of mitochondria, which may in turn produce “natural athletes.”

The Wall Street Journal covered the potential of CRISPR-Cas9 to advance research and lead to cures for genetic diseases. Among those quoted is GSA member and 2012 Novitski Prize recipient Dana Carroll (University of Utah).

Michelle Mondoux, assistant professor of biology at the College of the Holy Cross and GSA member, and her student Emma Sikes were recently profiled in a blog post describing their research. While investigating the connection between high-glucose diets and lifespan in C. elegans, the Mondoux lab found that the response to glucose is not universal. The post also highlighted Sikes' recent GSA Undergraduate Travel Award. 

Education and Professional Development

Postdoctoral Fellow at NIH
Image credit: B. Branson/ Wikimedia Commons

With the wealth of available advice on how to select a successful postdoctoral position, it can be overwhelming to know what to listen to, let alone understanding the process of choosing the right postdoc. Science Careers has compiled a list of the many issues and pieces of advice it has covered over the years related to choosing the right postdoc.

Take advantage of the summer and prepare your classroom resources for submission to GSA PREP or CourseSource! Both offer a convenient platform for publishing the labs or in-class exercises that you’ve already developed based on evidence-based pedagogical techniques (e.g. student-centered inquiry), linking them to core concepts and competencies in genetics. Click here for a more detailed rundown of all education-related publishing platforms available through GSA and our partners.

How does one make the leap from PhD student to startup employee? Science Careers chronicles the journey of several young scientists landing these under-the-radar jobs and describes the traits that appeal to startup CEOs.    

Funding, Fellowships, and Awards

The National Science Foundation has issued a revised call for proposals for the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR) program. Full proposal deadlines are due on November 3, 2015.

Nominations are now being accepted for GSA’s five prestigious annual awards: To help provide a diverse pool of nominees that represents the excellence in our discipline, GSA especially encourages the nomination of women and deserving individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in science. Please note the requirements for each award, listed in the description and at the top of the nomination forms. Nominations are due by September 18, 2015.


The White House has announced that it will be seeking to update the way it regulates genetically modified crops and other biotechnology products. The three federal agencies with oversight responsibilities for these products—the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture—are being asked to update the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, which was last revised in 1992, and to develop a long-term strategy to be prepared for the future products of biotechnology. GSA will be closely monitoring this process and will offer collective input as appropriate. See also coverage from The New York Times and NPR.

The US House may include language in its FY2016 spending bill that would block human embryo editing and create “an independent panel of experts, including those from faith-based institutions with expertise on bioethics and faith-based medical associations” to review a forthcoming report from the Institute of Medicine to consider “ethical and social policy issues related to genetic modification of eggs and zygotes to prevent transmission of mitochonidrial disease.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) wrote in The Hill recently: "A bold commitment to the NIH is essential to address our nation’s growing health concerns, spur medical innovation, sustain America’s competitiveness and reduce healthcare costs."

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have both passed bills that would provide increased funding to NIH in fiscal year (FY) 2016. The House bill would provide $31.2 billion, a $1.1 billion increase over FY 2015, while the Senate bill would provide $32 billion, but set aside specific funding levels for several activities including Precision Medicine, the BRAIN Initiative, and efforts to research Alzheimer’s disease and combat antibiotic resistance.

Community Announcements

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) is seeking committed and energetic individuals to join the NPA Board of Directors for three-year terms. Candidates should represent a broad spectrum of professions and backgrounds, and membership is not limited to postdocs. Expertise in fundraising, leadership, and policy or advocacy are particularly advantageous. Elections will be held in fall 2015. Submit an application by July 13 for consideration. As a reminder, GSA offers a joint membership option for NPA to encourage postdocs to be involved in both organizations.

The Mouse Molecular Genetics conference will be held at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge, UK, September 16-19, 2015. The conference is “the leading forum for researchers who apply genetics and genomics techniques in the mouse to address fundamental issues in mammalian biology.” The abstract submission deadline is July 17, 2015, and the registration deadline is August 7, 2015. This community of researchers will be joining us at The Allied Genetics Conference in 2016!

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna will share the $500k Gruber Genetics Prize! Doudna will serve as a keynote speaker at The Allied Genetics Conference next year.

The Saccharomyces Genome Database blogs about the nine billion measurements used to build an enormous high-res dataset on yeast genome-wide protein abundance and localization dynamics. The data is available via the CYCLoPs database, recently described in G3.

And finally...

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Still image from "Wrecking Ball Parody" by "Weird Alegans"

  • Presenting the multimedia winner from #WormArt2015: Weird Alegans! Watch the wormy video parody of “Wrecking Ball.”
  • “The sad truth is that minorities and women are underrepresented in clinical trials and genetic databases”: the GERA database helps begin to close this knowledge gap.
  • The Washington Post interviews Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, who has been studying the public’s aversion to GMOs since their introduction in the late 1990s.
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: July 17, 2015. Send items (and feedback) to Beth Ruedi, eruedi@genetics-gsa.org.