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This issue of the Minority Microbiology Mentor will feature activities of interest at the American Society for Microbiology 108th General Meeting.
FEDERAL AGENCY UPDATES
ARTICLES OF INTEREST AND OTHER UPDATES
SPOTLIGHT ON MINORITY MICROBIOLOGY SCIENTISTS
108th General Meeting – Boston, MA
The ASM 108th General Meeting will be held in Boston on June 1-5, 2008 and will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). The Final Program is available for online viewing at: http://www.gm.asm.org/sciprog.asp and will be mailed out to registrants (U.S. and Canada) soon.
On-site registration hours for the 108th General Meeting:
On Monday, join ASM President, Dr. Clifford Houston and members of the Program and Exhibits Advisory Committees at an official ribbon cutting ceremony which will begin at 8:45 am. The first 1,000 attendees to join us for the Grand Opening will receive a free gift.
After the Grand Opening of the Exhibit Hall the ASM is sponsoring a Boston Tea Party continental breakfast beginning at 10:30 am. This event will give attendees a chance to meet with 250 exhibitors, learn about new products and technologies, view 3,410 posters and learn about ASM activities in the ASM Services Area.
Online registration is still possible through May 23 for any of the following meeting components: Pre-Meeting Workshops, Sunrise Seminars, Boston Tours, and Dine-Arounds. Seize the opportunity to register for any of these programs at http://www.gm.asm.org/ while space is available.
Minority Affairs Booth
At the ASM General Meeting, visit the Minority Affairs Booth to learn more about the activities, programs and initiatives of the ASM minority affairs committees.
Meet the Mentors Hours
At the Minority Affairs Booth, online mentors of the ASM Minority Mentoring Program will be available to answer career questions and interact with potential mentees. The ASM Minority Mentoring Program aims to provide minority microbiologists in the United States with access to qualified mentors in their field of interest.
Annual Minority Microbiologists’ Mixer
Join your peers at the Annual Minority Microbiologists’ Mixer co-sponsored by ASM’s minority affairs committees! All ASM members are welcome with a special invitation to minority microbiologists.
Career Development Forum – Special Interest Session
Sponsored by the Career Development Committee, the 2008 Career Development Forum will provide examples of successful paths of accomplished microbiologists who have followed careers in diverse areas of our society. The goal is to inform microbiologists about career options outside the diagnostic microbiology fields. Speakers include:
Sessions of Interest
MONDAY, JUNE 2
TUESDAY, JUNE 3
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4
THURSDAY, JUNE 5
48th Annual ICAAC/IDSA 46th Annual Meeting – Washington, DC
The ICAAC/IDSA Meeting will be held on October 25-28, 2008. More than 12,000 physicians, researchers, and other health care professionals from around the globe will gather at this Joint Meeting to review the latest scientific and clinical findings on infectious diseases.
Visit http://www.icaac.org/ to view a copy of the Joint Meeting Preliminary Program, register for the meeting, and reserve housing. (Online housing and discounted registration are open until July 31.)
The Abstract Submission Deadline is May 19.
2nd ASM Conference on Beneficial Microbes: Beneficial Host-Microbial Interactions - San Diego, CA
This meeting will take place from October 12-16, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego, CA. Registration will be open soon, check the ASM conference website for more information: index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52027.
The field of microbial symbiosis has recently taken center stage in biological sciences.A sophisticated grasp of the nature of normal animal-bacterial associations is key in understanding what goes wrong when pathogenic "interlopers" disrupt the dynamics of complex communities of beneficial bacteria. The goal of this conference is to bring together an array of researchers working in a variety of arenas, from ecology to molecular biology, to develop this frontier field.
The International Mentoring Program
Help guide the careers of young scientists in developing countries by joining the ASM International Mentoring Program. Circumstance often limits the ability of early career scientists in developing countries to make connections with experienced microbiologists worldwide. Interactions with experienced scientists can reinforce junior scientists’ interest in microbiology itself and their confidence in the future of their scientific careers.
Through the International Mentoring Program, experienced ASM members offer assistance to young scientists in many ways: giving career advice, reviewing a paper for publication, advising on a grant application, or hosting a short-term ASM International Fellow. Mentors are never required to render more assistance than their time and resources allow.
The International Mentoring Program has recently been revamped to increase the effectiveness and efficiency with which international microbiologists are able to connect with an ASM Mentor. Policies and Guidelines have also been added to promote an effective Mentor/Mentee relationship.
If you are interested in becoming an ASM International Mentoring Program volunteer please visit http://www.asm.org/International/mentor
Synopsis of Program:
The Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program aims to significantly increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving post secondary degrees in the computing disciplines, with an emphasis on students from communities with longstanding underrepresentation in computing: women, persons with disabilities, and minorities. Included minorities are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The BPC program seeks to engage the computing community in developing and implementing innovative methods to improve recruitment and retention of these students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Because the lack of role models in the professoriate can be a barrier to participation, the BPC program also aims to develop effective strategies for encouraging individuals to pursue academic careers in computing and become these role models.
There are three components to the BPC program:
Alliances. Broad Alliances of institutions and organizations will design and carry out comprehensive programs that address underrepresentation in the computing disciplines. Alliances will join academic institutions of higher learning with secondary (and possibly middle) schools, government, industry, professional societies, and other not-for-profit organizations. In most cases, Alliances will involve multiple academic institutions of higher learning. Together, the participants will (1) develop and implement interventions that support students, (2) create sustainable changes in culture and practices at the institutional, departmental, and organizational levels, and (3) serve as models and repositories for effective practices to broaden participation. The emphasis will be on activities that have significant impact both in the quality of opportunities afforded to students and in the number of students potentially served. While the focus is on implementations, an Alliance may include complementary research that informs the design of its activities. The leveraging of existing efforts both across and within the underrepresented communities is strongly encouraged.
Alliance Extensions. Successful BPC Alliances can propose additional funding to significantly expand the impact of their work. The new funding can overlap with the final year of the Alliance project and can extend it for up to two years. Extensions must increase not just the duration of the Alliance award but also its scope, introducing additional targeted student groups, partners, and/or projects.
Demonstration Projects. Demonstration Projects (DPs) are smaller in scope and narrower in focus than Alliance projects. Typically DPs will be pilots of innovative programs that, once fully developed, could be incorporated into the activities of an Alliance. Projects might, for example, be proposed by a single institution or might focus on a specific underrepresented community, a specific point in the academic pipeline, or on a specific impediment to full participation in computing. As in the case of Alliances, complementary, well-defined research aimed at informing the development of the project can be included.
Cognizant Program Officer(s):
Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):
June 04, 2007
May 21, 2008
More information is available at http://nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07548/nsf07548.htm.
ARTICLES OF INTEREST AND OTHER UPDATES
Community Colleges Fuel Science Workforce
A recent article on Science Careers (http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org, "Community Colleges Fuel Science Workforce") continues the emphasis on community colleges as a largely underused source for fueling the science workforce. Cited as examples of this are a first-generation college student born in Mexico who attended a community college and is now a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of California (UC) Irvine, and an El Salvador-born graduate student studying plant and microbial biology at UC Berkeley. Dr. Shiva Singh, program director of the NIH Bridges to the Future initiative aimed at increasing minority participation in bioscience, stated, "There is a huge pool of talent to tap at the community colleges." More than one-third of the students attending U.S. community colleges are underrepresented minorities, and minority Ph.D.'s are more likely than whites to have begun their careers at a community college. The NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate program spends eight million dollars annually to support partnerships between community colleges and 4-year colleges. Benefits of community colleges included lower cost, smaller class sizes, more individual attention from professors, and a more family-friendly atmosphere than at 4-year colleges. A 2007 study found that undergraduates who got hands-on research experience in the lab were more likely to pursue postgraduate education. Unfortunately, opportunities to participate in hands-on research are scarce at community colleges, so it is often difficult to get this experience. For preparing a student for postgraduate studies, it is suggested to find a community college with specialized science departments rather than one all-inclusive Science Department, modern teaching labs and equipment, and opportunities to gain real-world research experience through partnerships with 4-year colleges. The article is available at http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/2008_04_11/caredit_a0800056 and was written by Siri Carpenter, a freelance science writer in Madison, WI.
Fuel Five Black Colleges and Universities Receive Grants to Revitalize Undergraduate Education in the Life Sciences
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, recently awarded grants totaling $60 million to 48 undergraduate colleges in 21 states. The grants will be used to revitalize undergraduate programs in the life sciences at these institutions. Among the 48 colleges and universities receiving grants are five historically black institutions. They are:
• Hampton University: The university received a $1.2 million grant for a program to increase the number of students seeking a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences.
• Morehouse College: A $1.4 million grant will be used to establish an instrumentation facility on campus that will house a fluorescent microscope, microarray readers, and other sophisticated equipment for research.
• North Carolina Central University: The university plans to use a $900,000 grant for a program to recruit more students to its science programs. The university will begin an outreach program to area middle school and high school students. High school juniors will be brought to campus to participate in scientific research.
• Oakwood University: This Huntsville, Alabama, black college will use its $1.2 million grant to expand a summer research program that sends its undergraduates to leading research institutions across the United States.
• Spelman College: Students at Spelman College in Atlanta will use a $1.4 million grant to produce a film highlighting Spelman graduates who have pursued careers in science. The film will be used to recruit students for Spelman’s science programs.
SPOTLIGHT ON MINORITY MICROBIOLOGY SCIENTISTS
Carmelle T. Norice, Columbia University
Candida albicans is a fungus that grows on the skin and mucosal surfaces of human oral, digestive, and vaginal tracts. It causes disease in people made susceptible by illness, medications, and implanted medical devices. In U.S. hospitals, Candida species are a leading cause of bloodstream infections, with an attributable mortality rate near 40%. Carmelle T. Norice and colleagues at Columbia University and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center recently published their discovery of important roles for “Sun41”—a molecule on the surface of Candida albicans—in Candida albicans pathogenesis (Eukaryotic Cell 2007 Nov;6(11):2046-55). They found that Sun41 is required for biofilm formation and cell wall integrity, as well as virulence in mouse models of oropharyngeal and disseminated candidiasis. Given its surface localization and fungal-specific features, Sun41 represents a promising therapeutic target.
Carmelle T. Norice is an MD-PhD candidate at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Under the supervision of Aaron P. Mitchell, PhD, Department of Microbiology, Carmelle studies the molecular pathogenesis of Candida albicans. In 2002, she received a BS in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is involved in outreach and programming for students underrepresented in biomedical research fields, and she is working toward a medical scientist career in infectious diseases, with special focus on health challenges faced by developing countries.
Melinda M. Pettigrew, Yale University School of Public Health
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. Women must make important decisions after an STI diagnosis. These include whether or not to inform their sex partner(s) of the diagnosis, and whether they will continue the sexual relationship. The answers to these questions may impact individual risk for repeat infections and transmission of C. trachomatis in the community. Women who do not notify their partners of the infection can be re-infected if they continue the relationship, and their partners may transmit the infection to their other sex partners. Deciding not to continue the relationship, perhaps because of the diagnosis, may place women at risk for infection from new partners. In collaboration with Dr. Linda Niccolai and other colleagues at Yale, we examined the factors influencing whether women planned to notify their sex partner of the chlamydia diagnosis, and whether they planned to continue the relationship after their diagnosis (Preventive Medicine 46:170-176). During 2005-07, we identified 135 Connecticut women with C. trachomatis infection, who reported 187 partners within the past 3 months. Women did not plan on notifying 25% of their partners of the diagnosis. Lower quality relationships and those of shorter duration were associated with plans to not notify the partner. The most common reasons given included a lack of perceived need and unwillingness to discuss the issue. Women in our study planned to discontinue 59% of their sexual relationships. Reasons given often related to the diagnosis. Shorter duration partnerships, concerns about monogamy, and lower quality relationships were associated with plans to discontinue the relationship. These data indicate that characteristics of the sexual partnership, rather than the individual, are associated with whether a woman will inform her sex partner of her STI and/or continue the relationship. The results of these analyses will help clinicians target prevention and treatment strategies for young women. The variety of planned actions and reasons for these actions suggest that individualized and patient-centered counseling that accounts for sex partnership characteristics is important.
Melinda M. Pettigrew, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Grinnell College in Iowa, and obtained her pre-doctoral training at Yale University. Dr. Pettigrew carried out her post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor. She has been on the faculty at Yale since 2002. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on the molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases of women and young children. Dr. Pettigrew is the principal investigator on an NIH funded R01 to identify genes that mediate tissue specific virulence of Streptococcus pneumoniae. She has been an author on over 20 publications, including several in Infection and Immunity and the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Dr. Pettigrew has served as an ad hoc member on several NIH study sections including NRSA pre-doctoral fellowships for minority students and students with disabilities. She has been a member of ASM since 2001.
Claudio L. Afonso, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS
A major route of infection of respiratory viruses is through cells of the airway epithelium. Two important avian viruses, avian influenza virus and Newcastle disease virus, infect and replicate in cells of the airway epithelium causing the significant avian disease avian influenza (AI) and Newcastle disease (ND), respectively. While in vivo systems are the best systems for studying disease response, primary cell culture systems provide highly controlled conditions that are invaluable to study mechanisms of infection and the molecular bases to understand immediate early host responses under highly controlled conditions. Dr. Afonso and colleagues isolated primary epithelial cells from the trachea of 18 day old chicken embryos using dissociation techniques and culture conditions developed for mammalian systems and obtained high number of viable cells of epithelial nature. Microarray analysis showed increased expression of several epithelial cell-specific genes and infection of the epithelial cells with both viruses confirmed the capacity of these cells to replicate in vivo conditions. This system, which closely mimics that of the natural infection, will be used to further understand the mechanisms involved in viral infection leading to a better understanding of these respiratory diseases.
Claudio Luis Afonso is a Microbiologist at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, working on the Exotic Avian Disease Unit in Athens, Georgia. He earned his Masters and Ph.D. on Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Before moving to Athens he studied large DNA virus at the Plum Island Disease Center in New York where he completely sequenced and characterized the entire genomes of over 20 large DNA viruses. In his current position at SEPRL he has been studying small single stranded RNA viruses including Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease virus. Dr. Afonso has characterized NDV isolated from wild birds and identified the presence of eleven novel genotypes among viruses isolated from waterfowl in live birds markets. Significantly, he has developed new diagnostic reagents to detect viruses that failed detection with real time PCR assays and a method for shotgun sequencing avian influenza. He has published 57 peer reviewed publications. Dr Afonso is an ASM member.
In July 2006, the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) of the American Society for Microbiology Public and Scientific Affairs Board developed a monthly e-newsletter which contains information pertinent to minority microbiologists. Currently, there are very few minority-based newsletters for scientists, and there are none for microbiologists.
This e-newsletter provides a central means of distributing pertinent information to underrepresented minorities in the field of microbiology. Some examples include career advice, networking tips, relevant news articles, unique funding and career opportunities, microbiological issues affecting minorities (e.g., HIV), minority issues affecting microbiologists (e.g., minority retention), and scientific articles published by minorities or by minority-serving institutions (MSIs).
The target populations are African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and Native Americans; however, all ASM members are invited to sign up and to share this information with others who may find this e-newsletter beneficial.
Signing up to receive The Minority Microbiology Mentor is very easy and is open to ASM members and non-members: simply go to http://www.asm.org/subscribe.asp, enter your email address, and select "MinorityMicroMentor" then submit, and you will receive confirmation of your subscription by email. If you are an ASM member, you will be prompted to Log In before signing up.
The Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities is chaired by Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., Director of Education and Biomedical Research Development at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, in Research Triangle Park, NC.The editors of The Minority Microbiology Mentor are Crystal N. Johnson, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, MS, and Carolyn B. Brooks, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Association of Research Directors at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).