Cell biologists, including many of our funded investigators and a few of us from NIGMS, were in a celebratory mood as the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology kicked off December 11 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The keynote symposium began with Gary Borisy’s description of the first ASCB meeting, when Hans Ris described his then-heretical finding that chloroplasts contain DNA. For more details about the genesis and early years of the ASCB, check out John Fleishman’s article, A Place of Our Own, in the December 2010 ASCB Newsletter .
An exciting addition to this year’s meeting was the science discussion table format. Eminent researchers sat at tables for an hour at the beginning of each poster session and took questions from relative newcomers to the field. I stopped by to say hello to some of the NIGMS-supported investigators in my grant portfolio, but each table was crowded with graduate students and postdocs eager to discuss science and seek advice from their fields’ leaders. Two thoughts came to mind as I watched the scene unfold: I wish that there had been these tables when I was a young scientist, and I hope this format becomes a regular feature of the ASCB meeting.
While science is the major focus of the ASCB meeting, education, mentoring and career development also are important features. A number of education workshops focused on topics such as pedagogy, science literacy and online teaching resources. Women in Cell Biology-sponsored events focused on careers, mentoring and managing life as a scientist. In addition, NIH program and review staff answered questions about the grant process. I was one of them, and my favorite part was talking to postdocs and investigators I know from phone calls and e-mail exchanges.
I saw a number of outstanding talks and posters at the meeting, and to say that there is not enough room here to mention them all is an understatement. I was particularly intrigued by presentations from Ron Vale’s lab at University of California, San Francisco, on the cytoplasmic dynein motor domain at 6 Å resolution and from Tom Schwarz at Harvard Medical School on identifying a role for Parkinson’s disease-associated proteins in the regulation of mitochondrial transport within axons. As someone interested in intracellular transport, both presentations offered answers to long-standing problems in cell biology and provided a launching pad for testing new ideas about how organelles move to specific cellular destinations.
I’m already looking forward to the 2011 meeting in Denver.
NIH has issued a notice with important reminders affecting grant applications submitted on or after January 25.
The NIH policy on page limits means that reviewers need not consider text or materials that have been inappropriately placed in the Appendix or other sections without page limits, particularly when they circumvent page limitations for the Specific Aims and Research Strategy sections. In some instances, NIH may withdraw the application from review or funding consideration. For a reminder of what’s acceptable in the Appendix, see NOT-OD-10-077.
Also, post-submission application materials must adhere to new restrictions on timing and content; see NOT-OD-10-091.
As I previously posted on August 20 and October 8, other application policy changes also on the way for submissions on or after January 25 include:
- Elimination of the error correction window from the application process for electronic and paper-based submissions; see NOT-OD-10-123.
- Resubmission deadlines of no more than 37 months after the receipt date of the initial application; see NOT-OD-10-140.
- New application forms for F, K, T and D series applications, which will apply to all other applications as of May 7, 2011; see NOT-OD-11-007 and NOT-OD-11-008.
In September 2009, we announced that we were not reissuing the funding opportunity announcement for our Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards (Glue Grant) program, which has supported research teams tackling significant and complex problems that are beyond the means of any one research group. We are currently assessing the need for this type of support and how best to manage programs of such scope and magnitude.
As part of this effort, we are conducting an assessment of the glue grant program’s major outcomes and their impact. We’re seeking your views through voluntary input forms posted on the NIGMS Web site. The forms will ask about various aspects of the glue grant program as a whole and about specific glue grant projects, including:
You can read more about the assessment and view the forms at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Initiatives/Collaborative/GlueGrants/OutcomeAssessment. The site will be open for input until December 15, 2010.
UPDATE: We have extended the comment period from December 15 to January 15.
Many kids (and adults) learned more about science and technology at the 2-week-long USA Science & Engineering Festival this month in Washington, D.C. The event featured hundreds of activities, including performances, workshops, demonstrations, tours of mobile labs and interactive games. A number of these were hosted by NIH, which was also one of the event sponsors, and most of its components. The festival wrapped up last weekend with a grand finale expo on the National Mall.
On Sunday, I helped host the NIGMS booth, where we presented a computer activity called “Supermodels of Science.” It showed how model organisms—from slimy worms to furry mice—help scientists learn more about human health. The kids were most excited about responding to the quiz questions at the end of each segment. They also were very interested in how scientists use GFP to make organisms glow different colors.
Other NIH activities included a musical performance by NIH Director Francis Collins; the National Human Genome Research Institute’s “Strawberry DNA Extraction,” a hands-on lab experiment where visitors used a soapy mixture to remove DNA from mashed strawberries; and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders’ “It’s a Noisy Planet,” where staff increased the volume on an iPod to demonstrate dangerous noise levels.
The festival’s turnout was excellent—about 500,000 people attended the weekend event. The kids were excited about science and eager to learn, and the volunteer staff members were thrilled to teach them about the research we support.
We’ll post the “Supermodels of Science” activity on the NIGMS Web site soon, and you’re welcome to use it in your own educational outreach efforts.
Here are several new NIH Guide notices regarding applications:
New Time Limit for NIH Resubmission Applications
Revised applications must be submitted no later than 37 months after submission of the preceding version. In most cases, the clock will start at the original receipt date. For special cases, please refer to NOT-OD-10-140.
NIH to Require Use of Updated Electronic Application Forms in 2011
Submissions for deadlines after May 7, 2011, must use an updated forms package (ADOBE-FORMS-B1). For deadlines before then, applicants may use either the new forms package or the current one, ADOBE-FORMS-B. There are some exceptions: K, T, D or F series applications submitted for deadlines on or after January 25, 2011, must use the new forms package. For more information, see NOT-OD-11-008 and NOT-OD-11-007.