ASM President's Bimonthly Newsletter -- March 2011

ASM - Members Bimonthly Newsletter

Dear ASM Colleagues:

I hope everyone is enjoying spring and that you and your microbes are feeling rejuvenated!

The General Meeting is nearly here (New Orleans May 21-24). There are two important dates that I want to alert you about. First, April 11 is the deadline for advance registration. Early registration provides a discount and allows you to avoid long lines registering on site. Click here to register. Second, the deadline for submitting late-breaker abstracts is March 23. We designed the late-breaking abstract program to showcase information that was not available at the regular abstract submission deadline. Late-breaker abstracts will be peer-reviewed, and accepted abstracts will be scheduled as oral presentations during the Late-Breaker Abstract session on Tuesday, May 24 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Click here for more information. Finally, I’m delighted to tell you that Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is the designated 2011 ASM Milestones in Microbiology site and will be recognized in a Saturday morning ceremony preceding the Meeting. If you arrive in town a few hours early, please join us at the event.

Unfortunately, this time, my letter cannot be all good news so now I write to you asking for your help. The impending Federal budget cuts will have a significant negative impact on the scientific research enterprise. On February 25, the ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board sent a letter to the members of the House of Representatives and Senate urgently asking Congress to reject the unprecedented cuts in the FY 2011 proposed Continuing Resolution for science and public health programs. The Board also sent an action alert to the ASM membership describing the FY 2011 federal agency budgets for science and public health programs.

Here is where you can make a difference. Please write to your representative. It is essential that members of Congress hear that their constituents believe that reducing federal funding for research and public health programs will negatively affect our nation’s health, vitality, economic growth, and leadership in the world. The ASM action alert is on the ASM Public Affairs web site where you will find a link to contact your members of Congress.

To finish on a high note, there is good news for us in the Obama Administration’s FY 2012 budget request, released on February 14! The budget includes substantial increases in funding for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science. The Public Affairs Office has posted information on the 2012 budget request which must now be considered by Congress.

Please see other important Society news below.


Bonnie Bassler

Bonnie Bassler

   New Podcast Debuts - This Week in Microbiology

On February 23, MicrobeWorld launched This Week in Microbiology with Vincent Racaniello and Friends featuring Stan Maloy, Michael Schmidt and Cliff Mintz in the first episode. Participants discussed the mBio paper "Opportunity and Means: Horizontal Gene Transfer from the Human Host to a Bacterial Pathogen" and the AEM paper "Bacterial Killing by Dry Metallic Copper STWIMurfaces."

Following is the show’s first iTunes review:

"Dr. Racaniello has launched his third superb podcast. Having listened to all the This Week in Virology and This Week in Parasitism podcasts, I awaited with anticipation when he announced he would soon start with This Week in Microbiology. Having just listened to his first edition of This Week in Microbiology, I am pleased to report he has maintained the very high quality and high production values of his first two offerings. He is a superb teacher and educator, and he makes sure that he picks guests who are themselves also excellent communicators. This is a selfless act on his part, he is deeply committed to promoting science education and it shows in the passion he brings to his mission. Three superb podcasts, so three cheers are in order."

Click the link above to be notified when new biweekly episodes are available.

   MicrobeWorld Video Interviews Leading Scientists

MW VideoOn February 18-20, MicrobeWorld attended the AAAS Meeting in Washington, D.C. and recorded 10 video interviews with notable microbiologists who were presenting their work at the conference. The first video from this series has just been published in the video podcast feed: Investigating the Origins of Disease with Beatrice Hahn (MWV44).

In it Dr. Stanley Maloy talks with Beatrice Hahn, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, about her work on the origins of HIV and Malaria, and how these diseases may have spread to humans.

   Recently Released Academy Colloquium Report Looks at Oil Spills

The report entitled FAQ: Microbes and Oil Spills, released at the AAAS Meeting in February 2011, is based on the deliberations of over 20 of the nation's leading experts who came together for one day to develop clear answers to seven frequently asked questions regarding the role of microbes in the oil spill. It is the first in a new series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues.  Traditionally Academy reports are based on multi-day colloquia after which the final report can take up to a year to develop.  The FAQ series will be based on single-day meetings focused on specific questions after which a final report will be published in 2-3 months..

   ASM Task Force Examines Undergraduate Microbiology Education

Following recent recommendations from two national reports, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology (AAAS) and Biology Education for the 21st Century (NAS), an Education Board Task Force on Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Microbiology Education updated the Society's existing guidelines. The group affirmed five overarching concepts in biology recognized by AAAS and identified a sixth overarching concept specific to microbiology. The concepts include evolution, structure and function, pathways, information flow, systems, and impact of microorganisms on humans. The group further identified 22 topics that are related to each concept and describe what students should truly understand in microbiology and two key skills - scientific thinking and microbiology skills - for which students' development of competency would have enduring and lasting value beyond the classroom and laboratory. Over the next 15 months, the task force will solicit comments on the guidelines from the scientific community and present the proposed concepts and skills at the 2011 ASM General Meeting and ASMCUE in May and June, respectively. Final recommendations are planned for spring 2012. To participate in a discussion about the guidelines, visit

   New from Journals

Two new features have been implemented on the mBio site. Users now are able to purchase copies of mBio issues and create their own custom print collection for purchase ("print on demand" option); and the Rightslink web-based reprints and permissions service has been enabled. The Journal of Clinical Microbiology has introduced a new feature, PhotoQuiz.  A case photo (also used as cover art) and description invite the reader to identify the organism; the answer is provided in an accompanying commentary.  The first case can be found here.

  March 2011  


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