ASN * American Society for Neurochemistry

Basic Neurochemistry
Bernard Haber Award
CAENLA Report
Electronic Communication Committee/Secretary's Report
Historian's Report
Jordi Folch-Pi Award
Marian Kies Award
Membership
Nominations 
President’s Report
2011 Program Committee
Public Policy and Education
Treasurer’s Report
YIEE Report

Basic Neurochemistry
Scott T. Brady, Editor-in-Chief
stbrady@uic.edu

The Basic Neurochemistry textbook 8th edition is progressing toward a publication date of November 2011 in time for the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Approximately 90% of the chapters have been finalized as of 8 March and we expect that the remaining chapters will be finalized in the next few weeks. The book has been completely updated including new chapters on Sleep, Pain, Neuroimmunology, Autism and Trinucleotide Repeat Diseases as well as expanded coverage of Myelin and Myelination. Many familiar chapters have been completely rewritten by new authors and chapters will feature Translational Neuroscience boxes that highlight the relationships between Basic and Clinical Neuroscience.

Bernard Haber Award
Nicolas Bazan (Chair)
nbazan@lsuhsc.edu

Dr. Shine, the only person nominated for this year Award, was unanimously supported by the committee to receive the Bernard Haber Award in 2011. This year, I will againcontribute the award itself, which will be an engraved wooden clock. Also, the council will be deciding on its membership for the subsequent years.

Committee for the Advancement and Encouragement of Neurochemistry in Latin America (CAENLA)
Juana Pasquini (Chair)
jpasquin@qb.ffyb.uba.ar

This year the CAENLA consisted of 5 members, Dr. Juana M. Pasquini (Chair, University of Buenos Aires Argentina), Dr. Ernesto Bongarzone (University of Illinois Chicago, USA.), Dr. Carmen Sato-Bigbee (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA), Dr. Gustavo Pigino (University of Illinois Chicago, USA ) and Dr. Fernando Nualart (University of Concepción Concepción Chile).

As in previous years and as was decided by council last year in Santa Fe we invited different laboratories to host  the Latin American Scholarships (YLAS). This year, CAENLA tried to identify North American laboratories to host YLAS awardees from Latin America for a one- or two-week research internship in order to not only benefit the students, but also to allow North American laboratories to interact with talented promising post-doctoral candidates identified and screened by the CAENLA. Unfortunately, no laboratory has offered to host YLAS awardees. In my opinion the announcement should be done early during the year, probably before the announcement of the YLAS and the announcement should be done through the ASN newsletter and on the website. All the Committee members should make announcements in the different Latin American countries using different networks in order to give the scholars the opportunity of knowing the possibility of applying to the YLAS and the laboratories that are available. This does not preclude the possibility of selecting another laboratory to which the students might want to go to.

By the deadline, the Committee received a total of 2 applications from Argentina. These applications were distributed among the Committee members who evaluated them based on the following criteria: 1) the applicant’s qualifications and interest in neuroscience, 2) the quality and commitment of the host laboratory, 3) the benefit of visiting a US lab for the applicant’s scientific career and 4) the recommendation letters attached to the application. Both candidates, Mariano Guardia Clausi and María Fernanda Podestá were considered eligible by the members of the Committee. I did not vote since one of the applicants was from my lab.

Mariano Guardia Clausi will be working on a time-lapse confocal microscopic examination of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells under hypoxic conditions in vitro in Dr. Campagnoni´s lab and María Fernanda will visit Dr. David Colman´s lab for learning confocal microscopy technology. The awardees were notified by email and by a formal letter from the ASN Secretary Dr. Babette Fuss.

Electronic Communication Committee/Secretary's Report
Babette Fuss (Chair)
bfuss@vcu.edu

As chair of the Electronic Communication Committee the Secretary has continued to update the website when needed. In particular, websites for the nomination/election process were generated in cooperation with the chair of the nominating committee, Judy Grinspan. A database system for the elections was not implemented this time but it is recommended by both the secretary and the chair of the nominating committee to do so in the future. Such a database system would be developed in cooperation with Christian Schmitz.

The secretary would like to especially thank Sheilah Jewart for her invaluable help in keeping the ASN business in order and in adhering to deadlines. In addition, special thanks go to Christian Schmitz, Ed Cross and Tim Stassines for their continued electronic communication support. Christian Schmitz has continued to improve the database features used through the ASN website and he has been instrumental in generating the meeting abstracts. Ed Cross and Tim Stassines have continued to implement major changes/updates to the website, such as the design and generation of the meeting website. They have also been involved in the generation of the meeting abstracts.

Historian’s Report
George H. DeVries
George.Devries@va.gov

 

Jordi Folch-Pi Award Committee
Eric Murphy
emurphy@ med.und.edu

The Jordi Folch-Pi Award Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Eduardo Candelario-Jalil, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico is the 2011 recipient of the Jordi Folch-Pi memorial award.  Dr. Candelario-Jalil’s current research centers on the mechanisms underlying the permeability of the blood brain barrier and the impact that cerebral ischemia has on the opening of the BBB.  His efforts focus on the role of COX-2 in mediating the expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) during ischemia. His work has demonstrated that COX-2 inhibition reduces BBB disruption via a reduction in MMP-3 and MMP-9 levels. His work has had a major impact on the stroke field since it demonstrates the importance of COX-2 mediating inflammatory events to the progression of ischemic injury. The downstream importance is that his work demonstrates that even delayed pharmacological intervention reduces damage in vivo.  His work is published in outstanding journals and he has published over 45 peer-reviewed papers. He did his graduate work at the University of Havana (Cuba) and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany prior to coming to join the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico. The Committee has no doubt that he will continue to make outstanding contributions to the field and look forward to seeing his career continue to prosper and flourish.  

This year we had seven candidates, all of whom were well positioned in the field of neurochemistry. Several candidates had over 45 peer-reviewed publications and it became evident that we had a very tight competition between three candidates. Many of the candidates are still eligible for 2012 and have been encouraged to apply next year.  For the selection process, a conference call was utilized and the merits of each candidate discussed at length by each committee member, followed by an open discussion by all committee members regarding each individual candidate.  This call provided a forum by which an integrative discussion of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each candidate was discussed by each committee member and discussion followed for each candidate. An oral vote was taken ranking the top three candidates and Dr. Eduardo Candelario-Jalil won they vote by one point. Through this mechanism, we were fair to all candidates and provided a real-time discussion of their merits.

In the past, the Committee has targeted ASN members with e-mails containing the requirements for the Folch-Pi Award and reminding them to nominate colleagues. This year, President Douglas Feinstein e-mailed members with request for nominations. The membership responded quite positively and we had a total of seven nominees. The committee urges members to continue to support their young colleagues who they feel are qualified for the Folch-Pi Award and we feel it is imperative for ASN members to take on the responsibility to nominate candidates. Although we are all very busy and over committed, the Committee emphasizes that this is the premier award by ASN to recognize a rising star in our ranks. 

The composition of the committee members are Tom Seyfried, Xianlin Han, Francesca Bosetti, and Colin Combs.  Due to potential conflicts of interest related to her new duties as a Program Director for NINDS, Dr. Bosetti will be resigning from the Folch-Pi Committee. I will discuss with President Feinstein potential candidates to take her spot.  Francesca will be sorely missed and her excellent service to the ASN is noted.

Marian Kies Award Committee
G. Jean Harry and Regina Armstrong (Co-Chairs)
rarmstrong@usuhs.edu

The Marian Kies Award Committee received five strong applications for the 2011 Award.  After careful evaluation of all eligible candidates, Dr. Bozho Todoric was identified as this year’s selection.  Dr. Todoric completed his graduate work in Cellular and Molecular Biology in the laboratory of Dr. James Conner at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Dr. Todoric is currently a fourth year medical student working toward completion of his MD/PhD combined program.

The submission of an application from Spain raised an issue with the Award website with regards to consistency with the ASN by-laws and the definition of Western Hemisphere.  Discussions between the committee, the ASN president and secretary resulted in the consideration of this application.  In addition, the committee recommended that the eligibility geographical requirement be clarified. The current requirements state “performed dissertation work in the Western Hemisphere”. Council via the Standing Rules membership section defines the Western Hemisphere as Canada, North America, Central America, South America, US Possessions and the Caribbean. This definition is not necessarily consulted by applicants and alternative definitions exist that are based on location relative to the Prime Meridian. Therefore the eligibility requirement should state that the candidate “performed dissertation work in Canada, North America, Central America, South America, US Possessions or the Caribbean.”

Membership Committee
Vlad Parpura (Chair)
vlad@uab.edu

The membership committee received total of 107 applications, since the last business meeting.  Four applicants were ex-members that were re-activated.  Two applications were incomplete due to unresponsiveness of the applicants; they were not further considered.  The committee endorsed 101applications (100 ordinary and 1 corresponding) which were sent to the Council for approval.

Nominations Committee
Judith Grinspan (Chair)
grinspan@email.chop.edu 

Nominations were solicited by web and fax from the general membership, the nominating committee, and officers and council. Nominations were requested for President-elect, Secretary-elect, Treasurer-elect and for 6 open seats on council plus an alternate.

We had responses with nominations from 18 members by web. This was a decrease of 7 from the previous election. Five members were nominated for President-elect, seven for Treasurer-elect, eight for Secretary-elect and 41 members were nominated for council. The relatively large number of individuals nominated reflects that fact that a given member could nominate up to 6 individuals for council.

This is how the ballot was generated:

The process in the ByLaws and Standing Rules states that anyone with 6 or more nominations is automatically put on the ballot. The remaining slots on the ballot are decided by the nominating committee (currently a group of four appointed by the ASN President) in conjunction with the President. We selected individuals who had received several nominations. We also sought to balance the slate of nominees by choosing individuals who had performed service for ASN. Using these guidelines plus some negotiations with potential nominees for officers, we identified two individuals to run for president-elect, two for treasurer-elect and one for secretary-elect. I then contacted all the nominees to see if they would be willing to run. Nominees were then asked to supply me with a short biography and a photograph. The short biographies and photographs of the candidates were posted on the ASN website, with two candidates for President-elect, one for secretary-elect, two for treasurer elect and twelve candidates for Council. An on-line ballot was posted.

All distributions were handled by the ASN Secretary, Babette Fuss, assisted by Sheila Jewart, according to the ASN By Laws. The final vote count was handled by the nominating chair. All ballots were checked through the website and Sheila Jewart to make sure the individuals voting were members of ASN (3 or 4 were not and their ballots were not counted). Since the result of the elections was that the new treasurer-elect and secretary-elect would be moving off of council, 8 council seats plus an alternate were filled. Also on the ballot was a non-contested vote for the incoming secretary and treasurer.

Comments from the nominating chair: the online form of the ballot required tabulating the votes by hand. There were approximately 150 ballots, each with a number of names for the various categories. This was very time consuming because it required checking and re-checking the counts since some of the elections were very close. We need to find a better, computer-friendly, system that will count names for us. Additionally, at least 10 voters submitted two ballots each, usually voting for different people each time. I counted the first ballot only in each case.  I don’t think this was election fraud- I think they simply forgot they voted the first time.

President’s Report
Douglas Feinstein (President)
doug.feinstein@asneurochem.org

In the past year between Sante Fe and St Louis, the ASN has continued to do well. The 41st Annual meeting held in Santa Fe was very successful, we again had over 500 attendees despite the generally poor funding situation. The exit surveys, of which we collected about 160, and their results were posted on line. They were generally favorable and importantly indicated that the choice of plenary speakers, symposium, and colloquium topics were timely and informative. There were comments that more sessions in the workshop format should be included, which has been done this year.

In the past year we again experienced a continued increase in our total membership, with 101 new members added. We welcome all the new members, and thank everyone who helped recruit new members, and thank Vlad Purpura and his committee for rapid processing of membership applications.

Our societies journal, ASN NEURO, is about to finish its second year since being launched in 2009 at the meeting in San Antonio. The first 2 years have seen many major successes, not the least being accepted into PubMed indexing rapidly, and with several papers gaining local and national press. However, the number of articles being submitted is much lower than anticipated, so once again I encourage all ASN members to submit a research paper or review article during the upcoming year, and to make your colleagues aware of the benefits of publishing in ASN NEURO, including the incredibly low open access fees for ASN members.

Last year we began producing the abstracts of the meeting in digital format. Several members were a little unhappy about the lack of a hard copy of the abstracts. But this year, the abstract team (including Christian Schmitz, Sheilah Jewart, Tim Stassines, and Ed Cross) have done an outstanding job and produced a digital version (Flip viewer) that goes far beyond my own expectations. I think all future Transactions of the ASN will be produced in this, or a similar manner; easily accessible, and downloadable to computers as well as smart phone devices.

Last year we also advanced digitally by putting the Exit survey on line. This was extremely successful, with about 130 surveys completed on line, about 30 on paper that then had to be inputted on line. The online survey allows us to quickly tabulate and organize responses. This has had significant influence on the development of virtually all aspects of this year’s meeting. I therefore strongly encourage all attendees to fill out the on line Exit Survey for the St Louis meeting and in the future.

Financially, at the end of 2009 we moved most of our assets into FDIC insured investments, being low risk CDs yielding less than 1% interest. This has kept our funds secure, but we have been not keeping pace with inflation. During the past year the officers have had several meetings to discuss possible re-investment strategies, and several proposals will be presented at the St Louis council meetings. We must thank Karen Chandross who took over as treasurer last year and has been key to developing this initiative. This year we elected a new treasurer-elect; and one of the new responsibilities of that position, in view of the difficulties in fund raising, will be to hold the chair of the fund raising committee which will help organize the fund raising efforts of the ASN office, as well as help coordinate efforts by session chairs.

The planning and organization of this year’s meeting went very smoothly and resulted in a top notch scientific program, thanks to Sandra Hewett, program chair and her committee. In addition she took on the task of organizing the Saturday pre meeting workshop, this year on microRNA, recruiting excellent speakers to address recent advances and will most likely be highly successful. Planning for the 2012 meeting in Baltimore is under way headed by program chair Matt Rasband; who has formed an impressive program committee, and has completed invitations for the 4 plenary speakers.

Last year we invited a group of local high school students to visit the meeting for ½ day to introduce them to the worlds of neuroscience, neurochemistry, and cutting edge research. That event was very successful, and we received a letter from the director of NIH (Dr Collins) acknowledging our commitment to younger students. This year the event is being repeated, being spearheaded by Mike Nichols. This has been more challenging than Santa Fe where the selection of local high schools was much more limited. Mike has done an extraordinary job this year, having lined up several top notch speakers for the students, hands-on experiments, and sponsors.

Fund raising for the 42st meeting has been successful, but it is becoming more and more difficult to raise support from either private or government agencies. As last year, the NIH R13 conference grant received an outstanding score (11) which reflects the fact that NIH highly regards our meeting, goals, and our dedication to advancing the careers of younger scientists. They are also enthusiastic about our high school event. We are once again indebted to ISN for their meeting support without which keeping our registration fees low and providing travel awards to Latin American scholars would be extremely difficult. Several pharmaceutical companies have continued to support our meeting at significant levels; and this year the local committee was very successful at obtaining funding for some of the meeting events including the Public Forum and High School visit.

My 2 years as ASN president has been exciting and challenging in many ways, and went by surprisingly quickly. This year we have a large group of incoming council members, a new President, and new Treasurer and Secretary elects all with excellent skills who will continue to make ASN a success.

Program Committee (2011)
Sandra Hewett (Chair)
shewett@syr.edu

The program committee developed an exciting program for this meeting including four plenary speakers, Hugo Bellen, Maiken Nedergaard, Sally Temple and Lennart Mucke who will present lectures covering the diverse representation of the ASN. 

Sixty-three session proposals were submitted from which the program committee selected 35, based on breadth of topics and perceived quality of the sessions, for inclusion in the program. Because of the excellent quality the committee decided to add a third morning symposium to the program. The past few years there have been only two.  Great attempts were made to ensure that the sessions would be diverse enough and provide little over-lap so to minimize complaints as to such.  Additionally, the committee worked hard to incorporate true workshops (i.e. more technique or technical oriented)  into the meeting every day. Only those that met this standard were labeled as such.

In addition to the selected symposia and colloquia, three oral presentation sessions from student and postdocs (19 speakers) were selected based on submitted presentations.  This number likely should be increased (and other sessions perhaps decreased to compensate) as this year 50% of our registrants are young investigators.  The committee made the decision to start earlier this year in order that we might provide a little more time for lunch, as having only one hour has been a common complaint.  Additionally, the meeting runs a bit later.  It will be interesting to get feedback on this new format.

We have 216 posters this year. Based on the submissions, the themes (session groupings) were changed to reflect content. These now are: Development, Differentiation, Disorders, Neuroinflammation, Neurodegeneration, Neuron-Glial Interactions, Axon Biology and Pathobiology, Neuroprotection and Repair, Demyelination: Pathology, Protection and Repair, Gene Expression/Regulation and Signal Transduction/Synaptic Plasticity. These groupings were repeated over the two poster sessions (S/M and T/W) so that only ½ will be presented each time.  Two others were incorporated into the program on Monday and Tuesday respectively: Drugs of Abuse and Lipids. Posters were carefully selected with thought as to how they would be placed next to each other. For instance in the Neurodegeneration session all of the Alzheimer’s posters are in order followed by Parkinson’s disease followed by Huntington etc. Poster sessions were set up so that they alternated between presentations in the afternoon and early evening. 

The organization of this excellent program without the significant contributions of the program committee which included Sandra Hewett, Chair, Rashmi Bansal, Francesca Bosetti, Eduardo Candelario-Jalil, James Hewett, Tammy Kielian, Dana McTigue, Alexander Mongin, Matt Rasband, Ian Reynolds, Joy Snider, Emma Wilson and Terri Wood.

Public Policy and Education Committee
Tammy Kielian (Chair)
tkielian@unmc.edu

The 2011 ASN Public Policy Forum will be held on Saturday, March 19 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  The title of this year’s Forum is “Alzheimer’s disease: Where is the HOPE?” and will feature four expert speakers on the topic including: David M.Holtzman, MD (Washington University), John C.Morris, MD (Washington University), Linda Van Eldik, PhD (University of Kentucky), and David B. Oliver, PhD (University of Missouri). Resource materials will be available to the public by the Alzheimer's Association, St. Louis Chapter as well as an information table sponsored by a local residential care facility. A web site for the Public Forum (graciously established by Dr. Monica Carson of the Committee for last year’s forum) has been used to advertise the event and a separate e-mail account has been regularly monitored to tally the number of RSVPs to the event. The 2011 Public Forum is being sponsored by ASN,University of Missouri-Columbia,andSanofi-Aventis.

Preliminary discussions have ensued regarding the topic of the 2012 Public Forum during the Baltimore meeting. Two front-runners include stroke or traumatic brain injury. The current ASN Public Policy Chair, Tammy Kielian, will be attending the 2012 Local Committee planning meeting during the St. Louis meeting for further discussions regarding next year’s Public Forum.

The Committee will be looking for a new Chair to replace Tammy Kielian, whose term officially ends in 2012. Tammy has already approached one individual and is waiting for a response.  The Committee will also need to recruit a couple of additional members to maintain numbers once others rotate off the Committee.

Treasurer’s Report
Karen Chandross (Treasurer)
karen.chandross@sanofi-aventis.com

The Treasurer’s activities for 2010 have included submission of tax information to the accountant and participation in discussions involving financials with the ASN Executive Committee. The savings and checking acounts are at Chase/WAMU and all other funds are at Smith Barney, in 7 separate ladddered CD accounts; staggered to leverage the most competitive interest rates as they become available. 

To date, the ASN financial strategy has been to maintain and preserve our corpus (assets); with safety of principal (e.g., FDIC insured options; associated with negligible income/growth) and liquidity as the primary drivers. However, given the current economic challenges and resulting low CD and government interest rates, alternative investment strategies are being considered for a portion of the ASN assets in an effort to build our corpus. 

ASN wants to acknowledge George Siegel, Wayne Albers, Scott Brady, and Donald Price for the Basic Neurochemistry income support we receive in royalties and sales, which amounted to $6,055 in 2010. We thank our current President, Doug Feinstein, for securing $17,500 from the NIH, $10,000 from the University of New Mexico, and $8,300 from TEVA Pharm to support the 2011 meeting and acknowledge the Treasurer’s efforts to secure $25,000 from our long-standing supporter, Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals.  We are exceedingly grateful to ISN, ASN’s sister society, for their very generous financial support of $25,000, which will be used towards the plenary speakers and students/post docs travel awards , registration subsidies, and lunch with plenary speakers at the 2011 meeting. We are also thankful for the exhibitor/sponsor revenue support received from the 2010 meeting.  We ask the membership to note the broad and consistent support given to the Society as listed online and in the program.

The ASN office budget expense was less in 2010 than 2009 and our membership fee income was comparable to 2008/2009, with an overall decrease compared to previous years.  We thank Sheilah for running the ASN office efficiently and in the black, which is only possible by collecting dues.  Continued efforts should be made to increase the dues paid by current and past members since we currently take in less than a quarter of the dues owed to the Society based on membership. Beginning with the 2010 meeting, non-member regular and student ASN meeting registration fees have been lowered in an effort to attract new members.

The Marian Kies and Jordi Folch Pi Funds are maintaining themselves through donations and interest earned, allowing the principal to grow over time. However, member donations are down considerably.  In an effort to build the overall sholarship corpus, donations should not exceed the awarded amounts.  Moreover, proactive fundraising efforts are strongly encouraged to sustain the Bernard Haber Fund and build up the Young Investigator’s Award and Young Latin American Fund.  A committee, led by the Treasurer Elect, will be implemented in 2011 in an effort to help facilitate overall fundraising efforts. 

An analysis of the Profit and Loss statement for 2010 records a loss for the FY2010 of about $39,000.  The income for 2010 was less and the expenses slightly higher than in 2009, which can be attributed in part to the cycle of meeting costs. Overall expenses for 2010 compared to 2009 were higher by about $26,000.

Young Investigator Education Enhancement Committee
Susan O. McGuire (Chair)
sumc@uic.edu

The 2010-2011 YIEE Committee consisted of 6 members:  Michael Collins, PhD, Loyola University Chicago; Michael Fox, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University; James Hewett, PhD, University of Connecticut Health Center: Pamela Knapp, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University; Susan McGuire, PhD, Edward Hines, Jr VA Hospital, Chairperson; Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, PhD, UCLA.  The online application process seems to work well and allows applications to be uploaded only after meeting registration and abstract submission.  Christian Schmitz has developed a hyperlink to the applications for the committee’s use in evaluation of the applicants. 

Each YIEE application was scored separately by committee members based on the following 7 criteria: 1) abstract quality, 2) applicant’s personal statement, 3) quality of the CV based on the level of the candidate taking into consideration the level of the applicant (postdoctoral fellow versus senior graduate student), 4) quality of the recommendation from the advisor, and 5) the need for exposure to the scientific community, 6) documentation of financial need by candidate, and 7) documentation of need by research advisor.  Scores of the reviewers were totaled and the candidates rank ordered.  Dr. Robin White was awarded the 2011 ASN NEURO Travel Award in the amount of $1,000 and the other 20 candidates received a notification of YIEE award of $500 to defray part of meeting expenses upon acceptance of conditions stated in the letter of award. 

The YIEE award winners are required to attend the entire meeting and awards will be presented at the opening session of the 2011 ASN meeting in St. Louis, MO.  A group photo of ASN award recipients will be taken at the business meeting and posted on the ASN site.  Awardees are identified by ribbons attached to their name badges.  They also, through generous grant support, were offered free registration at the pre-meeting workshop.  Approximately 2/3 of the YIEE awardees have accepted this offer.  Checks for their awards will be handed out at a breakfast in their honor on Wednesday morning.

As of the 2011 meeting, 1 YIEE member, Susan McGuire, PhD, Committee Chair, will rotate off the committee, to be replaced as Committee Chair by Michael Fox, PhD.