Annual Report 2009
This Annual Report summarizes the activities of the IUBMB in 2009
Report of the IUBMB President (Angelo Azzi) and President-Elect (Gregory Petsko)
Advanced School in China. Following the approval at the second EC meeting in Shanghai, the President has started the organization of the school, and especially the participation of FEBS. As local organizer, XiaoYan Ding was selected and the following title was chosen: “Epigenetics: Molecular Mechanisms, Biology and Human Diseases”. The venue will be at the Sheshan Forest Hotel of Songjiang county, Shanghai. FEBS is evaluating its participation. The date is still open.
Advanced School of Biotechnology in Brazil. In collaboration with the ASBMB and SBBq (Brazilian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) with Debora Foguel as chair of the organizing committee, the Advanced School has the title "Biochemistry of Biofuels". The venue and the final program will be decided shortly.
Advanced School of Biotechnology in India (Manesar, New Delhi). The Advanced School in Biotechnology in India, “Biologics: from Discovery to Development”, was conducted on Oct 27th-Nov 3rd, 2009 at Heritage Village Resort, Manesar, Gurgaon. Virander Chauhan, Director of the ICGEB- Delhi and Shams Yazdani have successfully organized together the advanced school. The President delivered the opening remarks on behalf of the IUBMB and a scientific lecture. The Advanced School was jointly supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Regional Centre for Biotechnology Training and Education (RCB), International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). There were 30 registered participants who attended the School from different parts of the world, including Egypt, Algeria, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Sudan, Finland and India.
Advertisement in Shanghai. The advertisement in Shanghai was organized in the form of distribution of 5000 fortune cookies publicizing, in the associated fortune slip, the journals of the IUBMB. Four iPods were also given out on the basis of a lottery among people who signed up to be "Friends of the IUBMB". From the 1500 e-mail addresses obtained from this operation, a data base was constructed by Qian Hu. Qian Hu, a Ph.D. student from China working in Kyoto, assisted in the distribution of the cookies, in providing information at the IUBMB booth and with the lottery. Haidi Yin, a student from the Medical College, Beijing, has prepared and sent three short e-mails to all these people, mostly from China. Only less than 10% of the addressees decided to opt out. Information has been until now on the IUBMB activities for young people, the conferences and congresses of the IUBMB and the IUBMB journals. The e-mails sent by Haidi have been circulated among the Executive Committee members of the IUBMB.
Advisory Board of UNESCO. A meeting of the International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP) took place in Paris, June 20 - 23, 2009 where the President participated for the first time as a full member, nominated by the UNESCO Director-General. The board decided to support the Advanced School in India.
Archives Committee. The President provided advice and assistance to Andy Sutherland (co-President of the Archives Committee) regarding the development of the Archives project and discussed with the IT responsible, Peter Ott, the developments in software/hardware needed for hosting the archives and more information.
Bangladesh Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. A message from the President was sent to the Bangladesh Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, on the occasion of the organization of the International Symposium on Cancer and Developmental Biology from January 29-31, 2010 at the Senate Bhavan, University of Dhaka.
Biotechnology Committee. The president provided advice and assistance to Steve Dahms, member of the Biotechnology Committee, and initiated the contacts with Britton Chance, Leslie Dutton, and the Chinese organizers, which have lead to the organization of the Britton Chance Symposium. This was successfully held in Shanghai during the International Congress of the IUBMB.
Honorary Advisory Board. Contacts have been steadily maintained with the Honorary Advisory Board, which provided advice on several issues of general strategic importance.
ICSU. On the request of ICSU for an evaluation of the next 10 years plan of ICSU activities, after a series of consultations with the Presidents of the Union for the International Union for Biological Sciences, Giorgio Bernardi; of the International Union for Physiology, Denis Noble; and of the International Union for Microbiology, Daniel Sordelli, it was decided to have a meeting in Paris preceding the meeting of the unions organized by ICSU for the 7-8 April. At the same time, the position of the IUBMB was drafted in a document (see below) which will be given to the ICSU Executive Secretary.
IUBMB Inc. The annual reports to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the year 2009 has been filed. The registration to the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been made and the 2008 Income Tax return has been filed. The new Board of Directors (Gregory Petsko, Michael Walsh and Joan Guinovart) has been informed.
IUBMB-Wiley Book Series. In support of the project of the IUBMB-Wiley Book Series, the President has provided three authors (César Fraga, Edon Melloni and Lorenzo Pinna) who have provided or will deliver one book each between 2009 and 2010. Three more authors have been invited: Abdulaev, Bogdanov and Levitan.
Jubilee Lectures. Edmund H. Fisher (University of Washington, Seattle) was awarded a Jubilee Lectureship and the IUBMB medal on the occasion of the International Conference "Signal Transduction and Disease" in Aachen, September 27 - 30, 2009. The President sent to Manfred Braun, responsible of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the IUBMB medal and the laudation.
Meeting in Moscow at the Shemiakin Institute. Moscow-Puschino, September 28 – October 1, 2009. The participation of the President in the meeting organized in memory of Yuri Ovchinnikov (and with a scientific lecture and a presentation of the IUBMB activities) was also associated with the commissioning of three books for the Wiley-IUBMB Series.
Nominating Committee. The meeting of the NC has been organized by the President and for the succession of Jan Joep DePont. An obituary will be written by Jan Koenderink, of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. Contacts with the new Treasurer have been established to jointly evaluate the assets and future policies of his portfolio.
Nomination for an IUBMB Distinguished Service Award. The award by the IUBMB Executive Committee has been sent to Mary Osborn, past IUBMB President, who could not participate in the meeting in Shanghai.
PhD Standards. The President has started the formation of the committee for the revision of the Ph.D. standards which is now under the chairmanship of George Kenyon.
Professional Congress Organiser. Together with Stathis Gonos, the President has contacted two core professional Congress organizers: INCON and CONGREX. The possibility of using their professional capacity in future IUBMB meetings is being explored and will be presented in a document to the IUBMB Executive Committee.
US National Committee. A Meeting at the National Academies took place on December 3 on the occasion of the US National Committee Chairs Meeting. The President has insisted on a more active participation of the biological unions in the activities of ICSU and the need for more collaboration among the biological unions. The meeting was followed by an invitation by the NSF to provide information about the activity of each single union. The President gave a slide presentation of the IUBMB activities and discussed the importance of the participation of the United States in the IUBMB activities and the mechanisms by which this can be realized.
Visit to George Kenyon. A visit was paid to George Kenyon who is an IUBMB Past President and IUBMB benefactor, on the occasion of the celebration of his 70th birthday (October 10, 2009), and he was awarded the IUBMB medal.
Position document for the International Science Council (ICSU)
The centrality of mankind and the role of ICSU as the lighthouse for science
On the occasion of the recent ICSU request for a foresight consultation, I have reflected on the Unions, ICSU and Science.
Science efforts can be dedicated to earth and the universe or to the inhabitants of the planet earth: mankind, animals and plants. Either solution is deficient, not taking into consideration the tight interactions between the two spheres, that of the environment and that of the biological entities. The study of the impact of human actions on the earth system is indeed important and cannot be delayed. Global environmental changes, either originated by men or by non human events, may result in great human suffering.
The limitation of focusing on the reasons underlying the environmental changes and analyzing the catastrophic consequences for mankind is only one side of the medal. While the environment is changing, mankind is suffering due to disease, uncontrolled increase in number, great imbalance among peoples in terms of food and water availability, lack of knowledge about basic principles of hygiene and disease prevention. Understanding and contributing to the solution of these problems is a major challenge and the number one priority for science. Here, I want to strongly advocate the role of biological sciences in solving these problems. Without basic biological studies, mankind will continue suffering the consequences imposed by its environment, whether or not modified by mankind itself or created by its own biological nature. These studies cannot be delayed or considered secondary to the global changes in the environment.
As we experience on a daily basis, decisions on future science directions are nowadays largely guided by institutions that are in a position to provide the necessary finances and by those rare human minds who come up with unexpected new insights. ICSU does not belong to either of these two categories. The financial viability of ICSU is limited in itself and largely absorbed by its administrative costs. The number of those extraordinary scientific minds capable of providing a quantum jump in science is not great in the entire world, and it would be most unlikely that a significant proportion of such minds would be concentrated within ICSU.
My suggestions for ICSU 2010-2020 are for fundamental modifications to its culture and decision-making methods.
It should be clear however from the very beginning how important it has been and will be that ICSU adheres to its own admirable historical, philosophical and ethical principles, such as universality, non-discrimination and upholding of fundamental freedoms.
On the other side, ICSU should maintain a position of servant of world science, not of its master trying to foresee (and presumably foreclose) options for the future.
A promising strategy for ICSU would be to provide worthwhile service to the world-wide community of scientists by carefully monitoring the evolution of international science in a continuous fashion, and to show sufficient flexibility to be able to react, without undue delay, to the ever-changing world of science. ICSU should be able to identify those individuals who can express creativity, should be paladin of new pioneering technologies, and should put more weight on persons rather than on the details of a project.
I am afraid that planning science for the next 10 years, when science moves at such a fast pace, may produce only obsolete results. To change ICSU into an organization capable of understanding and supporting original and creative science, both in the domain of earth and of mankind, should be the challenge of the future and would make of ICSU a reference point for modern science.
Report of the General Secretary (Jacques-Henry Weil)
In 2009, as in previous years, most of my daily activities have consisted of interactions (mainly by e-mail or phone) with members of the IUBMB community (EC members, the Adhering and Associate Adhering Bodies, the Associated Regional Organizations) and outside this community.
More specifically, together with Knut-Jan Andersen, I have been in contact with Prof. Khalid Fares, President of the Moroccan Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, for the preparation of the Congress/Special Meeting (on Plant Stresses) scheduled in Marrakech in April 2009.
I also prepared the EC meeting to be held in Marrakech. It had been decided in 2008 in Athens that the documents needed for this meeting would no longer be put in a Briefing Book and mailed to the participants, but put in a password-protected section of the IUBMB website to be downloaded by the participants before the meeting, in order to eliminate the costs involved in preparing and mailing the Briefing Books. I asked the EC members for these documents, collected them and sent them to Peter Ott who put them as a Briefing File on our website.
Peter Ott took care of recording the discussions during this EC meeting and recorded separately the summaries of the discussions/decisions at the end of each agenda item. These summaries were sent to me, transcribed by a professional secretary in Strasbourg to serve as a basis for the minutes of the EC meeting, and I sent these transcripts to all EC members, asking for their comments or corrections.
The preparation of the General Assembly, scheduled on August 7, 2009, in Shanghai, just after the Congress, had to start well in advance:
- A call had been sent to all ABs and AABs on July 23, 2008, asking them to appoint their Delegates or Associate Delegates to the General Assembly.
- Early in 2009 I asked the appointed Delegates to nominate candidates for the election to the Nominating Committee (NC). I then sent these nominations, together with those made by the EC, to the Delegates, so that they would know for whom they could vote at the General Assembly in order to elect the members of the NC.
- A call for nominations to fill the 3 positions becoming vacant on the EC in 2009 (President Elect, General Secretary, Member for Congresses and Conferences) had been sent to all ABs on July 24, 2008. Nominations were received from the ABs by February and I sent them to the Nominating Committee which met at the end of March 2009. When I received from the Chairman of the NC, Professor Naoyuki Taniguchi, the names of the candidates who had been selected, I communicated these names to the Delegates, so that they would know for whom they could vote at the General Assembly in order to elect the new EC members. At the General Assembly the Delegates elected the candidates nominated by the NC, namely Gregory Petsko from the USA as President Elect, Stathis Gonos from Greece as Member for Congresses and Conferences (both took office on August 8, 2009), and Michael Walsh from Canada as General Secretary (who took office on January 1st, 2010).
- I circulated to the ABs the Statutes modifications proposed by the EC and asked them whether they would agree to accept them at the General Assembly, or had remarks and wanted to suggest changes. No changes were suggested.
- I drafted the agenda of the General Assembly, asked the EC members to send me the documents needed for the discussion of the agenda items and forwarded them to Peter Ott who assembled them into a Briefing File which he put into a password-protected section of the website, so that the Delegates and Observers could download and consult them before the General Assembly.
After the General Assembly, which took place on August 7, 2009, I drafted the minutes, circulated them to all EC members, and made the corrections which were suggested.
I also prepared the EC meeting scheduled on August 8, 2009 which included discussions with the Organizers of our next events, namely the Conference in Melbourne in 2010, the Conference in Merida in 2011, the Congress in Seville in 2012, and the Congress in Brazil in 2015. The current and newly elected members of the EC participated in this meeting. Susan Hamilton agreed to take care of the recordings of this meeting and sent me a memory stick containing the summaries of the discussions/decisions which were made at the end of each agenda item. These summaries were transcribed by a professional secretary in Strasbourg to serve as a basis for the minutes of the EC meeting and I circulated these transcripts to all EC members, asking for their comments or corrections. These transcripts were edited by Angelo Azzi to provide what he considers the minutes of this EC meeting.
I participated, together with Jan Joep de Pont and Knut-Jan Andersen (IUBMB), Daniela Corda and Irene Diaz Moreno (FEBS), Jin-Qiu Zhou and Gang Wang (Chinese Academy of Sciences) in the evaluation of the 350 applications received for the Young Scientists Program (YSF). As a result of this selection procedure, 120 fellowships were awarded. The YSF took place in Shanghai for 2 days just before the Congress. As Jan Joep de Pont and Knut-Jan Andersen were not present in Shanghai, Iqbal Parker joined me to participate in the YSF as IUBMB representatives.
As our Treasurer, Jan Joep de Pont, unfortunately passed away shortly after the General Assembly, we had to replace him as rapidly as possible. It was decided to use an e-mail procedure. I sent a call to all ABs, asking for nominations for this position. I received 4 nominations, which I sent to Professor Miguel de la Rosa, Chairman of the newly elected NC, which consisted of 5 Delegates elected at the General Assembly in Shanghai (Miguel de la Rosa, Denis Crane, Naihe Jing, Stephanie Burton, and Anne Ephrussi) and 2 EC members (Angelo Azzi and Willy Stalmans). When Professor Miguel de la Rosa sent me the name of the nominee selected by the NC, namely Joan Guinovart, I sent an e-mail to all ABs asking them to vote by e-mail by December 19 to tell me whether they agreed to have J. Guinovart as our new Treasurer. As the Statutes require that at least 50 % of the votes are received (taking into account that ABs have 1, 2 or 3 votes respectively, depending on the category they belong to), and as I did not get 50 % of the votes by December 19, I sent a reminder to the ABs which had not voted, asking them to vote by December 30, 2009, in order to have a new Treasurer before the end of the year. On December 30 I had received 79.5 % of the votes, all in favor of J. Guinovart, and I informed J. Guinovart, the NC chairman and the EC members.
In 2009, I attended, as the IUBMB Observer, the FEBS EC meetings in Strasbourg (March), Prague (July) and Tallin (November). I also participated in the FEBS Council meeting in Prague (July).
My activities as Chairman of the Committee of the Wood-Whelan Research Fellowships are summarized in another section of the Annual Report 2009.
Report on the Wood-Whelan Research Fellowships (Jacques-Henry Weil)
The Fellowship Committee consisted of Iqbal Parker from South Africa, Avadhesha Surolia from India, Carla Polycarpo from Brazil, and Jacques-Henry Weil from France (chair).
In 2009 the Fellowship Committee received 37 applications (33 in 2008) and awarded 15 fellowships (15 in 2008).
According to my records, we committed 40,822 USD in 2009, but as usual, the amount actually spent by the Treasurer might be slightly different, because the Euro/USD exchange rate varied during the year (some fellowships are paid in Euros), and because some awards, especially those made at the end of the year, are only paid the following year..With about 40,000 USD committed (or spent), we stayed within the fellowhip budget, which is 120 ,000 USD for the triennium (or about 40,000 USD per year).
In another section of the website (under «Young Scientist Support»), there is a table giving, for each of the 15 awardees, details on the research project, the duration of the stay, the amount awarded (in USD), the sending and receiving laboratories and the host lab supervisor.
The following figures can be mentioned :
- The success rate was 40.5 % (45.4 % in 2008).
- The average age of the awardees was 28 years (28.7 in 2008).
- The average length of the stay in the receiving laboratory was approximately 3.1 months (2.6 in 2008).
- The average amount awarded was 2,721 USD (2,553 USD in 2008). The maximum which can be awarded is 3,000 USD.
- Countries of the sending laboratory: Argentina (5), India (3), Cuba (2), Benin, Finland, Italy, South Africa, Spain.
- Countries of the receiving laboratory: USA (7), Brazil (2), Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, UK.
About half of the applications submitted (19 out of 37) were from Latin America, while almost half of the awarded fellowships (7 out of 15) and almost half of the money (18,000 out of 40,000 USD, namely 44.1 %) went to applicants from Latin America.
Report on the Publications Portfolio (Willy Stalmans)
Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry (BAB)
On March 30, 2009, I had the opportunity to discuss policy matters at the Portland Press headquarters in London with Pauline Starley, head of the editorial department, and Stuart Hobday, in-house editor. Starting in January 2009, Portland Press has synchronized the publication frequency of the printed and the online editions, at 1 issue per month. Simultaneously the budget was increased to accommodate the publication of 648 pages. Also, a website has been created (http://www.babonline.org/bab/mybab/) where readers can set up a profile and generate e-alerts according to their personal interests. Stuart Hobday retired at the end of July 2009, after having trained for four months his successor, Dr. Monica Banerjee.
In keeping with earlier requests by the publisher, the Executive Committee of IUBMB had authorized Portland Press to open from 2009 onwards the archive of published papers to non-subscribers, with a one-year embargo. However, it turned out that the publisher, confronted with data on the erosion of subscriptions to some of its other journals, had decided for the time being not to allow any free access to non-subscribers.
In 2009, as in 2008, China-based scientists accounted for ca. 30% of the submitted papers. This fact, together with the organization of the 2009 IUBMB Congress in Shanghai, incited Portland Press to collect a selection of papers (2007-2009) emanating from China in a special issue entitled “Spotlight on China”. Copies have been distributed at the congress, but the issue remains freely accessible online at http://www.babonline.org/bab/toc_china_papers.htm
In 2008 and 2009 the journal’s Impact Factor (IF) was around 1.28, after an ephemeral rise (to 1.9) in the previous 2 years. The latter phenomenon has been explained by the exceptionally high number (16) of reviews published in 2004, versus 2-4 in most years. Hence the decision was made to solicit more reviews. With 4 reviews (of about 20 pp.) and 8 minireviews (ca. 10 pp.) that goal was reached in 2009.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (BAMBEd)
The IF released in 2009 was 0.635, which is at the same level as earlier highs reached in 2006 and 2004. Two Editorial Board meetings took place in 2009, each attended by ca. 15 editors: first on April 20 during the Experimental Biology meeting in New Orleans, and again on August 6 during the IUBMB Congress in Shanghai. They focused on the journal’s eight topics that the editors-in-chief, Donald and Judith Voet, had discussed in their editorial (vol. 37, p. 1, 2009: “Time flies when you’re having fun”). One of those sections consists of “topical reviews by experts in the field, that contain information of interest to educators that is unlikely to be in text books.” The IUBMB president, A. Azzi, had strongly promoted the inclusion of such short didactic reviews, in an effort to boost the impact factor of BAMBEd, and to get the journal listed again in PubMed.
Following the agreement of 8th May 2008, the publishing contract between IUBMB and IOS Press ceased at the end of 2008. However, IOS Press duly published in the course of 2009 two overdue “2008” volumes (33 and 34).
The advent of Wiley as the new publisher initiated a series of changes from 2009 onwards: BioFactors acquired a larger format (28 x 21 cm), a new cover design, and a new article layout. The initial publication frequency was changed to one volume (6 issues) per year. Junji Terao continued as editor-in-chief, while the editorial board had been substantially overhauled. Angelo Azzi started as a newly appointed reviews editor. With the aid of Yesim Negis a fine collection of reviews had been commissioned already in 2008, to make up for an anticipated shortage of research papers in the early 2009 issues.
Vol. 35 (2009) contained 536 pages. It contained 56 reviews. Original articles (6 in all) started to appear from issue 4 onwards. One ‘letter to the editor’ and an opening editorial by A. Azzi and J. Terao under the intriguing title “Biofactors and BioFactors “ completed the volume.
- Statistics: 2009 was Wiley-Blackwell’s second year of operation, and the online usage has strikingly increased: during January-June 2009 there were 36,863 full-text downloads, versus 30,876 during the whole of 2008. Total usage during the same periods was 156,284 versus 147,005. During the last three years the Impact Factor oscillated between 2.3 and 2.9.
The 2009 page budget had been increased by 20%, which was barely sufficient to accommodate the papers published (Table 1)
In 2009, critical reviews and research communications continued to constitute the vast majority of the published papers (Table 2).
Type of published article
% of total
% of total
“My favorite enzyme”
Is there an answer?
* Hypotheses, “what’s in a name”, editorials, obituaries
- Young Investigator award: This award of 2,000 USD (generously provided by the publisher) was created in 2009 and will be given for the first time to the most meritorious research communication submitted by a young scientist not later than June 1, 2010. The award will be conferred during the IUBMB Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in October 2010. This new initiative is being announced in the IUBMB journals published by Wiley-Blackwell.
Language quality: The “Author Instructions” have been amended. Authors are reminded of the importance of correct English usage and grammar. Failure to observe this requirement may be a factor in deciding on the acceptability of a paper.
Molecular Aspects of Medicine (MAM)
After a period of irregular publication, this journal had lost its Impact Factor. As a result of the good management of its current editor-in-chief, Angelo Azzi, Impact Factors have again been released, and in 2008 and 2009 they were at once above 7.3.
MAM publishes exclusively topical reviews, which can consist of either a single, long, multi-authored paper (often >100 pp.), or a collection of much shorter reviews. The former type is to be preferred since it boosts the IF. Table 3 shows, however, that the average article length was substantially lower in 2008 and 2009 than in previous years. This evolution could have a negative effect on the future IF, which determines not only the standing of the journal, but also the royalty paid by Elsevier to IUBMB.
Pages per citable article
*excluding editorials & prefaces
Trends in Biochemical Sciences (TiBS)
With an Impact Factor of 14.101 in 2009, this successful Elsevier journal remains at the same high level over the past decade.
After 4 years on the job, Jonathan Tyzack, the London-based TiBS editor, announced that he would leave Elsevier at mid-August 2009 to take up the function of web editor at the Wellcome Trust. His successor is Sara Cullinan, who had been working with him since one year as an assistant – at Cell Press, however. Thus, TiBs has now completely left London and is fully integrated in Cell Press at Cambridge, MA, USA.
I reported last year that three of the IUBMB-appointed members of the TiBS editorial board (including Greg Petsko, president-elect of IUBMB) had declined their habitual honorary. In 2009 the number has grown to six. Our regretted treasurer, Jan Joep de Pont, wrote on March 17: “This means that we have 5,100 USD more available for the travel of young scientists to Shanghai. Some others wrote me that they use the honorary for travel of junior scientists from their own group.”
The Wiley-IUBMB series on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
In the autumn of 2009 the long-awaited first volume in this series has become available: “Plant phenolics and human health”, edited by Cesar Fraga.
Three additional volumes had already been commissioned:
2 - Edon Melloni (Department of Experimental Medicine, Biochemistry Section, University of Genoa): Calpains and calpastatins. Commissioner: A.Azzi.
3 - Rakesh Kumar (Baylor College of Medicine, University of Texas, Houston): Microtubule assembly. Commissioner: W. Whelan.
4 - Lorenzo A. Pinna (Dept. of Biological Chemistry, University of Padua): Protein kinase CK2. Commissioner: A.Azzi.
And four additional proposals are currently being examined.
The IUBMB-Sigma maps
Since Sigma-Aldrich Co. has decided in 2008 not to enter into a new production contract with IUBMB,Donald Nicholson continues to develop his new projects independently. His latest product is a grand view on the mechanisms of energy production during the complete oxidation of glucose: a combination of glycolysis, Krebs cycle and oxidative phosphorylation in a single animation. The latter is available as a beta-version which can be improved by comments of interested life scientists.
The IUBMB Nomenclature Committee
I attended part of the latest yearly meeting of the “Joint Committees on Biochemical Nomenclature” (JCBN) of IUBMB and IUPAC, on May 2, 2009, in Braunschweig, Germany.
The bad news was that Keith Tipton (Dublin), being an emeritus professor for some years, could not maintain the funding for his long-term secretary, Sinead Boyce, who had been working nearly full-time on the enzyme list since 1991. She also organized the annual meetings, wrote the detailed meeting minutes, etc. The Nomenclature Committee decided to distribute those tasks among its academic members. The committee chairman, Dietmar Schomburg, reported recently that the latter reorganization has been very successful.
The Committee complained about its serious financial problems. I proposed therefore to the Executive Committee to increase its annual grant to the Nomenclature Committee by 20% from 2010 onwards. This has been approved.
The secretary of the Committee, Richard Cammack, has taken responsibility for the reactivation of the dormant project to produce an updated printed version of the Enzyme List. Elsevier is committed to this project, which should result in a book by 2012.
The Committee considered the possibility of establishing links between individual enzymes in the Enzyme List and the corresponding products of commercial suppliers. However, the uncertainty about the dimension of the workload, and the fear of “pollution” of the Enzyme List, induced the Committee to reject the project in the currently proposed format.
Report of the Committee on Symposia (M. Iqbal Parker)
A total of 20 applications were received in both calls. Sixteen applications were approved for funding while one application was received late and 3 applications were unsuccessful.
These approved symposia were held in Italy (2), Croatia (1), Cuba (1), Portugal (1), Germany (1), South Africa (1), Argentina (1), Turkey (2), Brazil (1), Mexico (1), Chile (1), China (1), USA (1) and Japan (1). The number of applications for the year 2009 was similar to that of 2008 where 19 applications were received, but lower than that in 2007 where 26 applications were received. During the last two years fewer Symposia were funded but at higher levels than previously as it was possible to increase the size of the awards to the successful applicants.
FAOBMB: 2; PAMBMB: 6; FASBMB: 1; FEBS: 7
There is a skewed distribution against the FASBMB and FAOBMB regions, but this is due to the lack of sufficient high quality applications from these regions. Five of the six applications in the PABMB region were from Latin America. To date we have not had any applications from countries other than South Africa in the FASBMB region.
Total value of awards allocated for Symposia in 2009: US$ 142,500
The activities supported by the Committee on Symposia and Interest Groups in the year 2009 were as follows:
- 2nd International Symposium on Microbial Sulfur Metabolism; held in Tomar, Portugal, from March 15-18, 2009; (S2/2009); Contact person: Dr. Ines Cardoso Pereira, ipereira [at] itqb.unl.pt
- Mechanisms, Consequences and Detection of Free Radicals; held in Antalya, Turkey, from April 15-20, 2009; (S3/2009); Contact person: Prof. Tomris Ozben, ozben [at] akdeniz.edu.tr
- Genomic Analysis and Molecular Basis of Cancer; held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 5-8, 2009; (S4/2009); Contact person: Prof. Turgay Isbir, tisbir [at] superonline.com
- IV International Symposium on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; held in Havana City, Cuba, from October 12 – 16, 2009; (S6/2009); Contact person: Prof: Dr. Carlos Alvarez, calvarez [at] fbio.uh.cu
- 10th International Meeting on Cholinesterases; held in Sibenik, Croatia, from September 20-25, 2009; (S7/2009); Contact person: Prof. Zrinka Kovarik, zkovarik [at] imi.hr
- 3rd International Symposium on Kallikreins and Kallikrein-related Pepridases; held in Muenchen, Germany, from September 16-19, 2009; (S8/2009); Contact person: Dr. Manfred Schmitt, Manfred.schmitt [at] lrz.tum.de
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Malaria; held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from May 17-19, 2009; (S9/2009); Contact person: Prof. Alicia Juliana Kowaltowski, Alicia [at] iq.usp.br
- Membrane Biogenesis and Trafficking in Health and Disease; held in Tucuman, Argentina, from November 16-18, 2009; (S10/2009); Contact person: Dr. Beatriz L. Caputto, bcaputto [at] dqp.fcq.unc.edu.ar
- Basic Issues in Evolution; held in Venice, Italy, from May 01-05,2009; (S11/2009); Contact person: Dr. Giorgio Bernardi, bernardi [at] szn.it
- 15th International Symposium on Chromaffin Cell Biology; held in Merida City, Mexico, from November 12-16, 2009; (S12/2009); Contact person: Prof. Arturo Hernandez Cruz, aherna [at] ifc.unam.mx
- 20th International Symposium on Glycoconjugates; held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA, from November 29 – December 04, 2009; (S13/2009); Contact person: Prof. Dipak Banerjee, dbanerjee [at] rcm.upr.edu
- IV – Neurotoxicity Society Meeting: Neurochemical mechanisms for neurodegenerative disorders; held in Arica, Chile, from April 24-26, 2009; (S15/2009); Contact person: Prof. Jaun Segura-Aguilar, jsegura [at] med.uchile.cl
- The New Prion Biology: Basic Science, Diagnosis and Therapy; held in Venezia, Italy, from April 02 – 09, 2009; (S16/2009); Contact person: Dr. M. Catia Sorgato, catia.sorgato [at] unipd.it
- Terpnet 2009; held in Tokyo, Japan, from May 25-29, 2009; (S17/2009); Contact person: Prof. Yutaka Ebizuka, yebiz [at] mol.f.u-tokyo.ac.jp
- Biochemical and Biomedical Photonics: New Strategies and Horizons; held in Shanghai, China, in August, 2009; (S18/2009); Contact person: Dr. Stephen Dahms, sdahms100 [at] yahoo.com
- Europe-Africa Frontier Research Conference Series. First Conference on ‘Infectious Diseases: From Basic to Translational Research; held in Cape Town, South Africa, from April 04 – 09, 2009; (S20/2009); Contact person: Ms. Benita Lipps
Report of the Member for IUBMB Conferences and Congresses (Efstathios Gonos)
OzBio2010 - The 12th IUBMB Conference and 21st FAOBMB Conference: “The molecules of life: from discovery to Biotechnology”, September 26 – October 1, 2010, Melbourne, Australia. The conference will take place in the new Melbourne Convention Centre. Regular contacts were made mainly with one of the organizers, Professor Phillip Nagley, regarding the scientific program as well as the organization of the Young Scientist Forum. The web-page, http://www.ozbio2010.com/, is continuously updated.
The 13th IUBMB Conference will be organized by the Mexican Society of Biochemistry (SMB) and be held in the city of Mérida, Yucatán from October 22 - 27, 2011. The theme of the conference will be “Mechanisms of Signal Transduction”. Some preliminary contacts were made with the organizers regarding the final title of the Conference, the selection of the invited speakers and the organization of the Conference by a PCO.
The 21st IUBMB International Congress and the 37th FEBS Congress of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will be organized in Seville, Spain. The dates of the Congress will be as follows: The Young Scientist Program: September 2 – 4, Congress: September 4 – 9. Some preliminary contacts were made with the Local Organizers, Professors Miguel De La Rosa and Joan Guinovart.
IUBMB Conferences, 2013 and 2014. We have launched a call for applications to host the IUBMB 15th Conference in 2013 and the I.U.B.M.B. 16th Conference in 2014. The application deadlines are: April 30th, 2010 for the 15th IUBMB Conference (2013) and April 30th, 2011 for the 16th I.U.B.M.B. Conference (2014).
Proposal to bid for preferred PCO services. Some preliminary contacts were made with three different Professional Congress Organizers (PCO), namely INCON, Congrex and Tarsus, regarding the provision of “an umbrella PCO” for the management of the IUBMB Congresses, Conferences and Meetings. Negotiations with both INCON and Congrex are in progress.
Report of the Education Committee (Susan Hamilton)
The educational activities supported in 2009 are summarised below. Total sponsorship by IUBMB was US$33,220.
- A jointly sponsored workshop (IUBMB, ASBMB and ALTC (Australian Learning and Teaching Council)) was held in New Orleans in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2009 Meeting. The title of the workshop was “Defining the core of the discipline and developing suitable assessment tools” and was jointly sponsored by IUBMB and ASBMB. It was facilitated by Professors Duane Sears and Trevor Anderson. The workshop presented ideas concerning the essential core concepts of the molecular life sciences that all undergraduates should know, using concept inventories to test understanding of the concepts, and the development of other assessment tools. The workshop was attended by ~40 educators from a wide cross-section of largely US universities. This was the first time in recent years that a jointly sponsored symposium has been held with ASBMB, whose biochemistry education program is very strong. It is hoped that further jointly funded workshops and projects will follow from this initiative. There was general agreement that it would be useful to follow up on this theme at a subsequent meeting.
- A one-day workshop on Student Centred Learning in biochemistry and molecular biology was held in Marrakech, as part of the Joint International Meeting of the SMBBM (Spain), the IUBMB Special Meeting on Plant Stresses and the 6th FASBMB Congress. The meeting was well attended (~50 participants). The first part of the program included presentations from a number of senior educators from the region: Drs Mohammed Baziz, Mohammed Rhazi and Ahmed Adlouni. The speakers provided some useful insights into problems facing science education more broadly in the region, for example language difficulties. This session was followed by an interactive workshop which was conducted by Dr Manuel Costa and his colleague Dr Joana Palha. The workshop gave educators in biochemistry and molecular biology an opportunity to examine what is meant by “student centred learning”, and to consider ways in which their teaching practice might benefit through the introduction of a variety of different teaching techniques and assessment strategies that are designed to engage students in active learning.
- Three education symposia were held at the IUBMB Congress in Shanghai. A workshop on Assessment of Student Learning in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology sought to tap into both presenters’ and participants knowledge and experience in the area of assessment in biochemistry and to expand understanding of what constitutes high quality assessment in biochemistry and molecular biology. The session was facilitated by Professor Trevor Anderson and other contributors included Drs Manuel Costa (Portugal) Duane Sears (USA), Susan Hamilton (Australia), Judith Voet (USA) and Donald Voet (USA). The workshop was highly interactive, with participants invited to work in groups to critique a range of different biochemistry assessment questions.
The second symposium was a very well attended session on the History of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Speakers included Drs John Lagnado (UK), the organizer, Bruno Strasser (USA), Hans-Joerg Rheinberger (Germany) and Michel Morange (France).
The speakers are all distinguished scholars in the history and philosophy of science, focussing in particular on biochemistry and molecular biology. There was general acknowledgement of the great value in having symposia such as this as part of the education program at our scientific meetings.
The third symposium was on Teaching Biochemistry in Undergraduate Education. The speakers were Drs Donald Voet (USA), and Judith Voet (USA), who organized the symposium, and Thomas Baldwin (USA), Eduardo Galambeck (Brazil), and Hoon Eng Khoo (Bangladesh). Again the theatre was full to capacity with around 100 attendees, reflecting the appeal of the speakers as well as the theme.
- An education symposium was held as part of the 2009 International Symposium on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology hosted by the Cuban Section of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. It attracted a considerable group of professors, postgraduate students and researchers. A total of 11 presentations were given, with speakers from Cuba, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. Topics included Modelling of the Metabolic Control: A Course Based on Self-Learning, Biocatalysis as a Means of Teaching Basic Electrochemistry, Education in Biochemistry and Molecular Biochemistry: A Point of View from the University of Havana.
- A workshop Teaching Ethics to Bioscience and Medical Students was offered as part of the FEBS Congress in Prague. The workshop was targeted at academics interested in knowing how to approach teaching of bioethics, young scientists and those with a general interest in the area. The goal of the workshop was to review the present teaching ethics and bioethics and its assessment; to discuss the present available ethics teaching resources, share experiences in ethics and bioethics teaching, and to propose any appropriate changes that may lead to enhancement of students’ experiences during their undergraduate and postgraduate years.
Plenary speakers were Dr Göran Hermeren, professor of medical ethics at Lund University and Dr Barbara Maier, Associate Professor of medical ethics at Paracelsus University. The plenaries were followed by small group discussions of some case studies.
- A Biochemistry Education symposium was held at Termas de Chillan, Chile as part of the XXXII Annual Reunion of the Chillan Biochemistry Society. The symposium sought to discuss the content of the core curriculum recommended by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and compare with those that are included in each of the eight local universities that have biochemistry as undergraduate career. Invited speakers were Drs Judith Voet and Donald Voet, members of the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Educational Professional Development Committee of the ASBMB and Dr Leila Beltramini from PABMB. There were over 200 attendees at the symposium.
Membership of the Education Committee
The composition of the Education Committee is:
Susan Hamilton (IUBMB) 2006-2012
Trevor Anderson (FASBMB) 2005-2009
Ellis Bell (PABMB) 2005-2011
Steve Dahms (IUBMB) 2005-2011
Manual Costa (FEBS) 2007-2010
Gul Guner (FEBS) 2009-2013
Leila Beltramini (PABMB) 2009-2013
Eduardo Galambeck (PABMB) 2009-2013
Hoon Eng Khoo (FAOBMB) 2009-2013
Report on the IUBMB Website (Peter Ott)
The website of IUBMB is used to spread continuously updated information on all the aspects of IUBMB and it’s activities. The site has an increasing popularity as can be seen from the summary overview of the access statistics for the years 1999 – 2009 shown in the table below.
Average Visits per Visitor
The most requested pages, besides the “Homepage” have been those with information about meetings and congresses, symposia, education workshops, the Wood-Whelan fellowships, the Standard for the PhD Degree, the Journals of IUBMB and last but not least the list of all the (Associate) Adhering Bodies with contact addresses including e-mail contacts.