The Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology conducts business on behalf of the Fellowship and oversees Academy programs. According to the Bylaws, the Board consists of one Chair and nine Governors who meet once annually. Each governor is elected by the Fellows of the Academy to a three-year term, and may be re-elected once for a second three-year term. The Chair is also elected by the Fellowship for a three-year term, in addition to any term served as a Governor, and is eligible for an additional three-year term. Elected Officers of ASM, the Executive Director of ASM, and the Director of the Academy serve as ex-officio members of the Board of Governors without voting power.
The role of the Board of Governors is to:
• Set strategic direction for Academy programs
• Ratify all election recommendations of the Committee on Elections
• Develop the slate of candidates for the Committee on Elections
• Approve all new awards recommended by the Committee on Awards
• Serve as a review panel and decision-making body for all Academy termination of membership actions
• Establish new programs consistent with the Academy’s mission and strategic plan
• Develop and approve all colloquia topics
American Academy of Microbiology, 50th Anniversary 1955-2005
This year the American Academy of Microbiology celebrates its 50th anniversary and enters its sixth decade of existence. The American Academy of Microbiology (Academy) is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world's oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.
The Academy was formed in 1955 as a corporation independent of the ASM (then the Society of American Bacteriologists) by a group of distinguished microbiologists interested in their professional organization broadening its mission and activities. In 1969, the Council of the ASM and the Academy's Board of Governors voted to merge. It was determined that Academy would function as one of the "arms" of ASM and would be responsible for professional affairs, which included promoting training programs to ensure a supply of well qualified microbiologists, establishing and maintaining a code of ethics, developing certification and registration boards as needed, and ensuring the professional well-being of microbiologists whose opportunities may be subject to actions of legislative or other professional bodies. In 2011, the Professional Practices Committee was formed with the mission to provide professional development opportunities and content to members to increase their skill, enhance their job performance and contribute to the profession. The American College of Microbiology is a core component of this committee, and is no longer a part of Academy.
Today, the Academy serves as a resource to governmental agencies, industry, ASM, and the larger scientific and lay communities by convening colloquia to address critical issues in microbiology. The Academy manages ASM's scientific achievement awards program, recognizing outstanding achievement and potential in all areas of microbiology. The Academy convenes four to five colloquia a year for in-depth analysis of critical issues in microbiology.
Fellowship to the Academy, 1955-2005
Over the last 50 years, 2,700 distinguished scientists have been elected to the Academy. Fellows are elected through a highly selective, annual, peer review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. A Committee on Election to Fellowship, consisting of Fellows of the Academy elected by the membership, reviews all nominations for Fellowship and recommends to the Board of Governors what action should be taken. Each Fellow elected to the Academy has built an exemplary career in basic and applied research, teaching, clinical and public health, industry, or government service. Election to Fellowship indicates recognition of distinction in microbiology by one's peers.
Over 500 Academy Fellows are involved in all facets of the AAM, including guiding the critical issues colloquia series and ASM scientific achievement awards. The Academy published a newsletter for Fellows from 1957 through 1968 and revived it under its current name News and Views in 1991.
Over 200 Fellows of the Academy have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, while many have also been honored with Nobel Prizes, Lasker Awards, and the National Medal of Science.
The Academy convenes colloquia to deliberate on issues of critical importance in the microbiological sciences. Each colloquium brings together an invited select group of scientists, government officials, and industry representatives for several days of structured, directed deliberations on a specific topic. Participants bring together the sum of their scientific experience and expertise for a thorough examination of each discussion topic. Published reports synthesize conclusions reached during these important meetings, providing analysis of the scientific issues and practical recommendations for the future.
The colloquia program was envisioned by the founders of the Academy, and one colloquium was convened in 1988.
Since that time, over 35 colloquia have been held, and nearly 900 scientists have participated. Government agencies have recognized the expert scientific advice available from the Academy colloquia program and have requested several colloquia on specific topics. Others have been developed by the Academy's Board and through proposals from individual Academy Fellows, the leadership of the ASM, and other scientists.
Academy colloquia are recognized as objective analyses in all areas of the microbiological sciences and are widely utilized as teaching tools. The strength of this vital program depends on input from Academy Fellows. As leaders in microbiology, Academy Fellows are encouraged to identify the most significant and cutting-edge issues in the field of microbiology.
ASM Scientific Achievement Awards
In 1985 the Committee on Awards, which consists of at least eight Fellows of the Academy, was established to oversee all aspects of ASM's awards program. Responsibility for the awards program was transferred to the Academy, as the honorific arm of ASM, in 1990. Each award is governed by both a selection committee and a nominating committee.
The ASM's scientific achievement awards program is dedicated to acknowledging the best in microbiology. The awards honor outstanding accomplishments among senior scientists, young investigators, clinicians, educators, and students. They encompass all fields of microbiology, including biotechnology, clinical microbiology, environmental microbiology, antimicrobial chemotherapy, immunology, and virology, as well as education and service to the profession.
The Academy manages over 20 awards. ASM's oldest award, The Eli Lilly Company and Research Award, has been presented since 1936; there are now 18 awards recognizing microbiological research. Education awards are presented for excellence in teaching and mentoring at the undergraduate and graduate levels; young investigator awards recognize potential and encourage originality; and service awards honor professional commitment and action, both within and outside the ASM.
Each award honors a distinguished colleague, an inspiring teacher or an exceptional student. It also provides the chance to participate in recognizing, rewarding, and encouraging important contributions to microbiology as a science and profession.
Minutes of the 2012
A. Welcome and Roll Call
Present: Bonnie L. Bassler (Chair), Edward F. DeLong, Gerald R. Fink, Susan Gottesman, Diane E. Griffin, Steven E. Lindow, Louis H. Miller, Edward G. Ruby, David Hooper (ex-officio, President, American Society for Microbiology), Joseph Campos (ex-officio, Secretary, American Society for Microbiology), Michael Goldberg (ex-officio, Executive Director, American Society for Microbiology), Nancy Sansalone (ex-officio, Deputy Director), Ann Reid (ex-officio, Director, American Academy of Microbiology), Michael Ingerson-Mahar (Colloquium Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology), Leah Gibbons (Program Assistant), and Katie Lucas (Coordinator, American Academy of Microbiology).
Absent: Peter K. Vogt and Christopher T. Walsh.
The meeting was called to order by Dr. Bassler at 8:30 a.m.
B. Approval of Agenda
The agenda was approved without edits.
II. Old Business
A. Approval of Minutes of February 1, 2011
Ms. Reid updated the Board on the activities of the Academy over the past year.
This year, a few new processes were initiated to solicit nominations for Fellowship. The AAM Nominating Committee was re-constituted as an ad hoc committee with members selected by its chair, Dr. DeLong, Dr. Bassler and Ms. Reid to help identify possible nominees from scientific areas that are underrepresented in the Academy. A committee conference call solicited 40 potential nominees and nominators, 19 of which resulted in complete nominations for Fellowship. Membership in this committee will change each year in an effort to increase the scientific diversity of the Academy. An email from Dr. Bassler soliciting nominations was also sent to ASM division chairs. Many followed up with an email to the Fellows within their divisions.
In a follow-up to the previous year’s discussion of the ASM membership status of AAM fellows, Ms. Reid reported on the membership status of 2012 nominees. Similar to the membership breakdown from past years, of 114 nominations, 82 are current ASM members, 16 have been members at some point in the past, and 16 have never been members. The Finance Committee agreed to allow the Academy to give a one-year membership to any non-member who is elected to the Academy, with the hope that they will then become long-term ASM members. Staff will provide the Board with follow-up information as it becomes available.
Ms. Reid also reported that submissions to the on-line, open-access journal, mBio, continue to rise, with submissions from Academy Fellows still constituting a significant proportion of submissions and highly-cited papers.
The Academy currently has its first Colloquium Fellow, Michael Ingerson-Mahar. He has planned and managed two FAQ colloquia including writing and managing the publication of the reports. There are currently several full-length colloquia and FAQ programs in the planning stages. The fellowship program has been a great success. The Academy is about to begin looking for its next fellow and will be putting out a call for applications soon.
Ms. Reid shared a letter from Roberto Kolter about confidentiality of fellowship nomination, suggesting that there should be a policy against informing candidates that they have been nominated. Other honorific organizations, like the Institute of Medicine inform members that it is inappropriate to tell candidates they are being nominated and that they should report to the IOM when it happens. The Board decided that a policy change was unnecessary, but that it would be a good idea to warn nominators that election is not guaranteed and that they should be careful not to raise nominees’ expectations. Staff will add a sentence to the AAM webpage detailing the average election rate—a statement that is encouraging but shows that all nominations are not successful.
C. Awards Program Update
Ms. Lucas gave an update from the Committee on Awards. The Academy administered the nomination and selection process for 25 awards in 2011 (for a total of 31 laureates). The 2011 awards marked the first year that the Academy took over administration of the Moselio Schaechter Distinguished Service Award, which honors leadership and commitment toward furthering microbiology in the developing world. This award was created by the International Board in 2009 in time for the 2010 General Meeting, and was administered by the International Department for its first year.
After the 2010 GM, the GMPC requested that the names of award winners be available at their meeting in August. This would allow them to place laureates into appropriate scientific sessions, which should result in higher attendance for laureate lectures. Meeting the new target date required moving the awards deadline to July 1. This year’s awards (for the 2012 GM) were the first under the new deadline. The number of new nominations declined slightly, but the total number reviewed is still above our average of the past five years.
At its 2011 meeting, the Committee on Awards reviewed prize amounts and travel funds for award laureates, as neither had changed for at least twenty years. The Committee requested $500 more for cash prize and travel amounts for the awards funded directly by ASM, allowing ASM to lead the corporate sponsors by example. Increased amounts will be requested as awards are re-negotiated over the next few years. In the meantime, travel funds were increased out of the administrative fees for the awards that had a slight surplus.
The Committee on Awards will be discussing the status of corporate sponsorships at its meeting this spring. Corporate sponsors have been hesitant to renegotiate contracts, especially for more than one year. At the suggestion of the Board, the Academy will enlist the help of the Committee on Awards, the Board, and other Fellows, in identifying individuals in senior management at current and potential sponsor corporations to ensure consistent support for awards. The Board also suggested developing marketing documents that collect testimonies about the impact of winning these awards from past laureates.
Lastly, the ASM sponsors special awards in microbiology each year at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. About 80 students present projects in this category. Historically, the top ten projects have received a cash prize, student membership to ASM, a certificate, and a letter from the ASM President. One of this year’s judges was very inspired by the amazing work the students were doing, often without much outside help, and requested that all of the microbiology entrants be recognized by ASM. Additional funding was requested to increase the cash prizes for the top ten students and give all of the microbiology entrants an ASM student membership (including a print subscription to Microbe) and a certificate. The full list of students competing in the microbiology section will be published in an issue of Microbe.
D. Colloquium Program Update
Dr. Ingerson-Mahar filled the Board in on the various colloquia that are being planned, have a report in progress, or were recently published. The following reports were published in 2011: Educating the Microbiologist of the Future: The Role of Summer Courses, The Rare Biosphere, Microbial Evolution, Incorporating Microbial Processes into Climate Models, Microbes and Oil Spills (FAQ), and E. Coli: Good, Bad, and Deadly (FAQ). Two reports are currently in development: “Point of Care Diagnostics” and “Adult Vaccinations” (FAQ).
The FAQ program has been a big success. There are currently three more in development: “Microbiology of Brewing: Beer,” “The Human Microbiome and Probiotics,” and “The Problem of Antibiotic Resistance.” There are four regular colloquia in progress: “Microbiology of the Built Water Distribution System” (to take place in April), “Designing Drugs that Last” (to take place in July), “How Microbes Can Help Feed the World,” and “Seeing Inside Cells: Advances in Biological Imaging.” The Board approved the continued development of these projects, but requested that the Human Microbiome FAQ be developed separately from the topic of Probiotics.
Some ideas are in progress to increase the reach of these reports, including developing teaching modules to be used in the classroom, having participants hold science cafes in their hometowns after the reports are published, and developing a central repository of information that better utilizes the reports. An idea for the future is developing some FAQ reports from regular colloquia, as well. Some ideas that are currently in development are posters or tri-fold brochures from the vaccination FAQ stores for doctors’ offices, drug stores, and grocery stores where flu shots and vaccinations take place. How titles are created should depend on what audience the report is intended to reach. The Academy wants to be strategic about reformatting reports for kids, students, Congress, the public, etc. The goal is to be the “go to” place for an expert opinion on microbiological issues.
III. New Business
A. Strategic Planning
Dr. Bassler led a discussion with the Board to define the mission of the Academy. What is the Academy’s strategic advantage; what can it do that nobody else can do?
Dr. Bassler shared with the Board the ASM’s submission to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s request for input on the President’s Bioeconomy Blueprint, the new strategic plans from the Communications Committee and Public and Scientific Affairs Board. The Board discussed how the Academy can further the goals expressed in the Bioeconomy response, and complement the work of PSAB and Communications to disseminate information to Congress, the public, and other groups. The group suggested that the unique role of the Academy is as a source of content and expert opinion for all parts of the Society, incuding PSAB and Communications. The Academy should position itself as the group of experts that can provide expert advice and information on any issues or measures of microbiological importance. A suggestion was made that representatives from PSAB and Communications be invited to meet with the Board at next year’s Board meeting.
The group looked at the website for the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges in Engineering, which it decided was a good model. The NAE website has tabs for 11 grand challenges. When one is selected, the viewer can see all of the information NAE has on that topic, who the major players are in the field, and what NAE is doing in the field.
If the Academy wants to replicate this model, what is the plan for the next five years? Fellows could be an army; however they are frequently unfamiliar with the activities of the Academy. How can the Academy tap into their expertise and get them involved?
The draft mission presented by Dr. Bassler was well received. Dr. Gottesman said it captured the essence of the Academy, and asked for a description of the ASM’s main boards and volunteers. The group discussed how the Academy could monitor the field and assess the topics of importance? The Academy must be fluid enough to able to respond quickly both when there is a catastrophe and when there is an opportunity or breakthrough involving microbes.
The group discussed whether the Academy should endeavor to identify Grand Challenges in Microbiology. Instead of identifying specific microbiology challenges, the Board decided that it would be better to look at grand challenges facing society in general, and then show how microbiology could contribute to solving those challenges. Starting with the challenges of food, energy, environment and health, the Board approved the formation of task forces around each of these challenges. These task forces should be charged with figuring out what’s out there, and where gaps are. Who are the Academy fellows currently involved in each of these fields? What is the layout of the problem area? If other groups are working on the problem area, have they included microbiologists in their discussions? How could the Academy get involved? What roadmap would the Academy follow to get involved in these topics? Who are current and potential funders? Are there other societies we should interact with? Action items identified by the task forces could include colloquia or mini colloquia, white papers, placement of microbiologists on committees and Boards, coordination with the Education Board to develop curriculum modules, op-eds, podcasts, or others. The audiences could range from specific funding agency programs or Congressional committees, to high school teachers, ASM members, and the general public.
A frequent comment was that positive images of microbes should be emphasized—not all issues that come up with regard to microbiology involve pathogenesis. A major take-home message should be that microbes are a diverse and limitless natural resource; the public impression of microbes should be changed. The Academy can be an ambassador of the microbial world. The strategic plan task force was asked to develop a short descriptive mission statement similar to that of the National Academies: Where the nation turns for independent, expert advice. The Board felt the Academy should embrace a similar mission, whereby the AAM would serve as the place the nation turns to learn more about and appreciate the potential contributions of microbiology. The task force should also develop a strategic plan for the Academy that would provide the road map for achieving the mission goals. A few goals were identified and discussed at the Board meeting, but the strategic plan task force is encouraged to develop others as needed.
One important goal would be to build a strategic database. The Academy needs a complete catalogue of Fellows- what they do, what fields they are versed in, who their previous employers are, etc. A well-planned website that features the grand challenges and identifies AAM experts in each grand challenge area would also be a high priority. The website was identified as a good way to host reports from the Academy, each report could be linked to a specific grand challenge area.
As part of the strategic plan, an important theme is the need to develop a culture within the AAM that election to Fellowship represents an opportunity and a responsibility to participate in AAM activities. For example, Fellows could be asked to sign up for a challenge, and then profiled on the challenge web site pages. This would benefit the individual Fellow, but also provide a source of information for people trying to learn more about what microbiologists can do about different societal issues. The idea was broached of arranging for some kind of “town hall” meeting at the General Meeting to get input from Fellows and other ASM members about the strategic plan. Staff will work on options for such gatherings and solicit input from the Board by email.
The Board discussed the question of whether there are enough members of the Board of Governors to accomplish all of its goals. The increase in the number and diversity of Fellowship nominations is just one example of an area where it is difficult for 10 individuals to cover the breadth of microbiology. The Board voted to ask the Fellows for a change in the bylaws to increase the number of Governors from nine (9) to eleven (11). The Board discussed what areas of expertise would be important to include, given the likelihood of future Academy activities in the areas of food, energy, environment and health. The areas suggested as priorities were: clinical microbiology, pathogenesis (perhaps with animal or plant expertise), biofuel/synthetic biology/applied microbiology , viral evolution/epidemiology. Other potentially important emerging areas of expertise were mentioned: genomics, high-throughput techniques, structural biology/imaging/biophysics. Another change in the bylaws will be needed to formalize the new approach to the AAM nominations process. Instead of a fixed committee of five members, each with 2 3-year terms, the procedure used this year involved an an hoc group of more than a dozen recently elected Fellows who were asked to participate in a single conference call. In order to reconcile this approach with the bylaws, Fellows will be asked to approve the following changes to the description of the AAM Nominations Committee (bold font represents insertions; crossed-out words would be deleted):
AAM Nominations Committee. This committee develops a list of potential nominees for Fellowship, ensuring that underrepresented minority and international scientists are considered ensuring that the full breadth of microbiology, with an emphasis on new and emerging areas, is represented. The AAM Nominations Committee consists of at least five (5) Fellows of the AAM and all members, including the Chair, are appointed by the Chair of the BOG for a three-year term and are eligible for a second three-year term, and at least five (5) Fellows of the AAM, appointed by the Chair of the BOG on an annual basis according to identified gaps in representation. The Chair of the AAM Committee on Diversity serves as a member of the AAM Nominations Committee.
Strategic Plan Task Force:
Susan Gottesman and Bonnie Bassler will work together to map out a strategy for further developing the Academy’s new strategic plan and mission statement. The entire Board will be invited to join on conference calls and comment on drafts as they are generated.
Grand Challenge task forces:
Board liaisons were named to the four proposed task forces:
Food: Steven Lindow, Louis Miller
Energy: Edward DeLong, Gerald Fink
Environment: Edward DeLong, Edward Ruby
Health: Edward Ruby, Diane Griffin
The role of the Board liaisons will be to help identify additional members to serve on the task forces, most importantly, to find a chair for each task force from within the Academy. The liaisons will then work with the identified chair to find another 4-6 scientists and others to serve on the task forces. The work plan for each task force will be developed by staff and disseminated to the whole Board for comment.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.
R. John Collier, Ph.D.
Chair, Board of Governors
The Academy’s mission is to “recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.” AAM Fellows are elected to the AAM on the basis of scientific excellence and stellar achievements, and in 2010, 78 new Fellows were elected, including 17 (22%) international scientists, nine members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and two Nobel Laureates.
AAM Fellows elect members of the AAM’s Board of Governors (BOG) and the Committee on Elections (COE), and the following scientists were elected in 2010:
- Edward Ruby, Professor and Vice Chair, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin, Madison (elected to a second term on the BOG)
- Gerald R. Fink, Professor, Molecular Genetics, MIT, and Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (BOG)
- Caroline S. Harwood, Gerald and Lyn Grinstein Endowed Professor in Microbiology, University of Washington (COE)
- Stephen Lory, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School (COE)
The BOG convened in January 2010 in Tucson, Arizona, for the annual board meeting and to review nominations to the AAM. Minutes have been posted online. Due to some proposals at last year’s BOG meeting that required changes to the bylaws, an ad-hoc committee was formed to review the Academy bylaws and offer changes. The committee, chaired by Eugene Nester, met several times by conference call and presented revisions for the BOG to consider. The revised bylaws will be sent to Fellows for ratification. Peter Gilligan, Dean of the American College of Microbiology (College), gave a presentation about ASM's recent clinical microbiology initiatives and the resulting expanding role for the College. The BOG supported the College's work on the initiatives and agreed to the following declaration of support:
Declaration The Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology supports the American College of Microbiology's efforts to better meet the needs of the American Society for Microbiology's clinical microbiology community.
Carol Colgan, who served as Director of the American Academy of Microbiology for 20 years, retired at the end of 2009. Carol’s qualities of intellect, warmth and enthusiasm made her highly effective as Director of the Academy, and a source of wisdom and close friend to many of us who had the good fortune to work with her. We wish her happiness, good health, and stimulating adventures in her retirement. At last report she was planning a month-long trip to the Himalayas this fall.
After a long and extensive search we were fortunate to recruit Ann Reid to serve as the new Director of the Academy. Before joining the Academy Ann was senior program officer on the Board of Life Sciences of the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academies. During her tenure, she worked on over a dozen major projects, serving as the study director for seven of them. One of the first projects she helped develop resulted in the report "The New Science of Metagenomics: Revealing the Secrets of Our Microbial Planet". Before coming to the National Academies, Ann was a molecular biologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, where she co-led the team that sequenced the 1918 influenza virus, resulting in a series of ground-breaking publications. We are delighted to have Ann as our new Director and look forward to working with her.
In an effort to be more efficient, environmentally responsible, and cut costs, the Academy has transitioned to paper-free programs. 2009 marked the second year that the Academy election process was 100% paperless- CVs were posted online and an electronic voting system was used. The Academy has transitioned to an online method for paying dues for Fellowship in the Academy as well as certification in the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists. These changes greatly lower the cost of postage and materials, and enable staff to spend more time on other Academy projects.
The Academy, on behalf of ASM, awarded special awards in microbiology at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for high school students. Nancy Freitag chaired the judging panel and presented the awards on behalf of the Society. ASM awards cash prizes and ASM student memberships to 10 high school students. For the first time, letters were sent from the ASM President to the students in the microbiology category who did not win a prize with ASM. This letter commended them on their excellent work at the fair, and encouraged them to pursue future studies in microbiology.
The Academy’s Committee on Diversity will sponsor a session at the 2010 ASM General Meeting entitled, “Natural Products from the Sea: The Next Frontier.”
The Academy convenes colloquia to strategically address critical issues in microbiology and to develop reports that are scientifically analytical, practical, and objective. Since 1992, the Academy has sought and received over $2 million in grants and contributions for the colloquia program—from federal agencies, foundations, and the corporate sector. Colloquia reports have been downloaded in the aggregate over 750,000 times. Reports published in the past year include:
- Large-Scale Sequencing: the Future of Genomic Sciences? (December 2009) Scientists can gain insights into new ways to use microorganisms in medicine and manufacturing through a coordinated large-scale effort to sequence the genomes of not just individual microorganisms but entire ecosystems, according to a new report from the American Academy of Microbiology that outlines recommendations for this massive effort. The report, “Large-Scale Sequencing: The Future of Genomic Sciences?” is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in September 2008. The report outlines recommendations for large-scale microbial sequencing efforts directed toward cultivated isolates and single cells, as well as a community-scale approach to characterize a set of defined ecosystems of varying complexity.
- Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on An Old Problem (September 2009) According to this report, it is possible to co-exist with resistance by developing new strategies to prevent resistance from spreading and, where it already exists, identifying the strains we need to protect against; finding new ways to treat resistance infections effectively in patients; and managing reservoirs of antibiotic strains in the environment. The report summarizes the current scientific understanding of antibiotic resistance, the scope of the problem, and methods at our disposal for detecting emergence and preventing spread. The knowledge gaps about the prevalence of resistant strains and resistant infections are highlighted as are the unique problems and challenges in developing countries. This report has been translated into French.
- Bioinformatics and Biodefense: Keys to Understanding Natural & Altered Pathogens (May 2009) Bioinformatics, the application of computer analysis to molecular biology, is a fundamental corollary to biodefense research. As we face new security threats involving pathogens and infectious disease, bioinformatics databases must be improved and a plan must be made for integrating biodefense research throughout the world. This report outlines the recommendations made by the world's leaders in bioinformatics at a colloquium held in Baltimore.
Four colloquia are in the planning phase, to be held in late 2010 or 2011:
- “Microbial biogeochemistry & climate change: building microbes into climate models” Chaired by Ed DeLong (fall 2010)
- “Exploring the Role of Summer Courses in Educating the Microbiologists of the Future” Chaired by Roberto Kolter (fall 2010)
- “The Role of Microbiology in Solving the Global Laboratory Capacity Challenge” Chaired by Keith Klugman
- “How Microbiology Can Contribute to Meeting Global Water Needs: An Ecological Perspective” Co-chaired by Stephen Morse and Tim Ford (tentatively scheduled for June 2011 in Singapore with support from the National University of Singapore)
Academy-administered ASM awards recognize outstanding microbiologists and bring their accomplishments to the attention of the scientific community and the public-at-large. The Academy is happy to announce that Abbott Laboratories has agreed to continue funding the Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award through 2016. This is ASM’s premier award for sustained contributions to the microbiological sciences and includes a cash prize of $20,000 and travel to the ASM General Meeting where the laureate delivers the Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award Lecture. The laureate in 2010 is Lucy Shapiro of Stanford University. Also, we are happy to announce that bioMérieux, Inc. has agreed to sponsor the bioMerieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology through 2016. This award, which carries a cash prize of $2000, recognizes a distinguished microbiologist for the promotion of innovation in clinical laboratory science, dedication to ASM, and the advancement of clinical microbiology as a profession. The 2010 laureate is Patricia Charache.
The AAM has transitioned to the use of forms to replace letters that used to be submitted for award nominations. Each award has a nominating and supporting form that can be filled out and saved to the user’s computer. Once the user is finished, they click “Submit,” and the form is electronically submitted.
The awards website now has a box that rotates between the pictures of the 2009 award laureates. This same technology will be used to display the photos of new Fellows on the Academy website in the next few months.
AAM staff continue to work with sponsors and volunteers to ensure the financial viability of the awards program. Several hundred AAM Fellows and other ASM members volunteer their time to ensure ASM awards are the very best in our science.
American College of Microbiology
Peter H. Gilligan, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was elected Dean of the American College of Microbiology; his term began July 1, 2009.
National Registry of Certified Microbiologists (NRCM)
The Board of The National Registry of Microbiologists (NRM) voted at its 2009 board meeting to change its name to the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists (NRCM). The impetus for the name change was to increase the value and marketability of certification. The board believes that the new name will make it clear that microbiologists become registered through certification, not simply by signing up. The NRCM Board determined that the industrial exam names should be changed to reflect current practice and optimize their marketability. The board voted unanimously to change the industrial exam names as follows:
Old Name New Name Consumer Products and Quality Assurance Microbiology specializing in Food and Dairy Registered Microbiologist: Food Consumer Products and Quality Assurance Microbiology specializing Registered Microbiologist: Pharmaceutical and Medical in Pharmaceutical/Medical Device/Cosmetics Device Consumer and Industrial Microbiology specializing in Pharmaceutical/Medical Device/Cosmetics Specialist Microbiologist: Pharmaceutical and Medical Device
American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM)
In April 2009, the ABMM exam was approved by the State of California to replace their licensure examination for microbiology laboratory directors. Under this approval, anyone who passed or passes the ABMM exam between May 1, 2005 and May 1, 2013, will meet the examination requirement for licensure in California. Those who are approved by California may take the ABMM exam for California licensure purposes. Anyone who wishes to become certified as an ABMM Diplomate must still submit an ABMM application and meet the ABMM’s eligibility requirements in addition to passing the exam.
The Academy’s programs are functioning well. The effectiveness of the Academy’s programs depends on the voluntary service of its Fellows and others in the broad community of microbiologists, and, importantly, on a talented administrative team now headed by Ann Reid. My heartfelt thanks to them all.
R. John Collier