Great minds think alike

Experimental Bio show brings together numerous specialty societies to advance knowledge in drug discovery, development and more

Jeffrey Bouley
SAN DIEGO—The six separate programs from six different professionalsocieties that make up the Experimental Biology 2012 (EB 2012) meeting all havesome connection to the world of drug discovery, drug development anddiagnostics, though admittedly some have slimmer connections than others. Aswith many annual meetings in the life-sciences realm or associated with lifesciences, there is a broad audience to satisfy and very little time in which todo that.
 
 
In the end, that probably works for the best for us here at ddn, since there's not enough room totalk about six different programs in detail in one issue. However, a few of thesocieties were kind enough to connect us with program planners and organizerswho have an eye on discovery, development and diagnostics and could share whatvalue the meeting might hold for researchers and others in those areas ofexpertise.
 
 
A 'PET' project
 
 
The American Society of Pharmacology and ExperimentalTherapeutics (ASPET) not only had its own program to plan in detail, but alsodrew the straw for overall show direction responsibilities for EB 2012 thisyear. According to Dr. Scott Waldman, ASPET's program chair, there isdefinitely a trend for more discovery and development content in his society'sown programming.
 
 
"We've had a growing focus on trying to emphasize more andmore the full spectrum of experimental therapeutics from initial discovery inthe lab all the way through translation and development of novel paradigms forpatient and population management," Waldman says. "What it really comes down tois an expansion of the focus on simple signal transduction, receptors,molecules and all that into a question of: 'How are we really going totranslate discoveries into new patient paradigms for treatment?' We're workinghard to make sure each of the major points along the developmental continuumare represented."
 
 
He points out that he works in experimental therapeutics andtherefore spends a lot of his time dealing with issues in the translationalmedicine realms. He says that compared to recent years, the annual ExperimentalBio meeting used to be less relevant to the things he does.
 
 
"But the meeting has really evolved to have a much widercharacter, including metabolic, neurological, psychological, cardiovascular,cancer—it really runs across a very broad swath of disciplines—communities ofpractice, as it were," Waldman says. "We're really trying to balance the wholemolecules-to-man paradigm. Not only is that healthy for the discipline becauseof the growing emphasis on translational medicine and patient-based care, but atthe end of the day, with all that great discovery work, we hope that itultimately does translate into better patient management tools and algorithmsfor care."
 
 
Getting physiological
 
Another organization of special note at EB 2012 is theAmerican Physiological Society (APS), which celebrates a very big birthday atthe meeting as well as having much to offer for those interested in drugdiscovery and development.
 
 
"This represents the 125th anniversary of theAmerican Physiological Society, and physiology is the basis of medicine. Assuch, the science that is presented at the meeting is aligned with drugdiscovery and development, because it's about our understanding ofphysiological function, its implications in pathology and its ability to serveas a guide to inform us in the development of treatments and cures fordisease," notes Dr. Martin Frank, the executive director of the APS. "As drugsare developed, invariably one has to see how they function in the livingorganism, and that's where physiology comes in."
 
 
He says this year's APS conference will offer a tour of amultitude of physiological concepts and systems and ways to think about them,understand them and work with them. Because of the anniversary, he says, APShas encouraged organizers of the various symposia to provide a bit ofhistorical precedent and perspective in their presentations. In addition, thehistory group within APS will be putting on a presentation at the meeting.
 
 
"We want to provide a little flavor of the history and thescience and the sources of all the information they'll be receiving at themeeting and have learned over the years," Frank says.
"The purpose of this meeting for APS—as well as our sistersocieties that partner with us in the Experimental Bio meeting—is that it's anopportunity for our members and the communities they represent to present thelatest sciences related to our disciplines for our members, but also realizethat it's all tied together into a much larger tapestry," he says. "Each of usis what I would call a basic science society, and each of these basic sciencesinforms efforts toward drug development, so it's an important for us tocontinue to generate and advance and push the basic science knowledge togenerate the fuel for drug development."
 
Frank notes that the meeting is also important because itreflects a responsibility toward helping future scientists grow and develop intheir careers. For example, many graduate students and post-docs use thismeeting, he says, as one of their first opportunities to discuss their workwith other scientists but also attend workshops and sessions to prepare them tobe independent scientists in their own right.
 
 
"For the established and active scientists, the extensiveexhibit program is an important element because of the opportunity to talk tovendors about their research and their needs and—for those who considerthemselves sufficiently creative—perhaps write the next great textbook orguide. For us, that is what for most people would be the dream of writing the greatAmerican novel," Frank says.
 
 
Bridging basic andclinical science 
 
The third society to speak with ddn about EB 2012 was the American Society for Biochemistry andMolecular Biology (ASBMB), which Dr. Peter K. Jackson and Dr. Randall W.King—both of them the drug discovery theme organizers for ASBMB's annualmeeting at EB 2012—say is, for the first year, taking a strong drug discoveryfocus.
 
 
"Obviously, the people we have in ASBMB have a wide varietyof tools and expertise, but many people haven't hooked that up with figuringout how to do drug discovery, so our forums and other offerings help withthat," says Jackson, who is director of cell regulation at Genentech Inc.
 
"In terms of focus, we decided to concentrate on drugdiscovery in cancer just to give our part of the Experimental Bio conference alittle more continuity than may have been the case in previous years," addsKing, an associate professor at Harvard University Medical School. "We'veorganized around four themes. One is sort of an outlier—on parasitology—buteverything else is dealing heavily with drug discovery in cancer. One theme ison cell death and how best to induce it, another is on really trying tounderstand heterogeneity in cancer and targeting individual tumors—that'spopular right now in terms of personalized medicine, for example—and the lastone is more forward-looking and tech-focused, looking at how the tools andtechnologies can be made more relevant to drug discovery."
 
 
Jackson says that one reason to focus on cancer as the avenuefor addressing discovery and development with ASBMB members and otherinterested parties this year is because of the wealth of good cancer models.
 
 
"I'd say in cancer, we're well ahead of most areas in thelife sciences in terms of models compared to other diseases, such ascardiovascular," he notes. "There's a lot of heterogeneity in tumors but wealso see a lot of promise in terms of current and upcoming breakthroughs, andthere's a lot of enthusiasm. Some of the best work in biochemistry and molecularbiology and some of the best applications right now have happened in the cancerarena and that's setting the life-sciences industry up for all kinds of modelsthat might inspire and advance other therapeutic areas as well."
 
 
Also, according to King, a reason to focus on cancer isbecause in the last decade, researchers have really worked out how a lot ofsignaling pathways operate, and that's been thanks to the basic scientists. 

"Now we want to look toward applying that knowledgetherapeutically. We need to build more communication between basic and clinicalscientists to move things even farther forward," he says.
 
Jackson notes that the three cancer-related programs in theASBMB lineup at EB 2012 essentially represent different key parts of the overallprocess of cancer drug discovery.
 
 
"I think I'd emphasize the idea that we have an overallprogram that targets the full range of the drug discovery process, from findingcompounds and targets to the latest in integrating biochem and clinicalbiology," King adds. "I think there is something for everyone in that sense,depending on what they want to hear about and learn about."
 

 
What to expect atExperimental Bio 2012
 
SAN DIEGO—Experimental Biology 2012, which will be held thisyear from April 21 to April 25 at the San Diego Convention Center, is amultidisciplinary scientific meeting featuring plenary and award lectures,pre-meeting workshops, oral and poster sessions, on-site career services andexhibits featuring an array of equipment, supplies and publications requiredfor research labs and experimental study. Generally speaking, the offerings at the meeting cover thefields of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition andpharmacology. For more information about the specific programs and thesocieties putting them on, visit www.experimentalbiology.org.
 
The meeting is open to all members of the sponsoring andguest societies and nonmembers with interest in research and life sciences,with the major difference between the two groups of attendees being thatmembers enjoy discounts on the registration fees. The majority of scientistsrepresent university and academic institutions as well as government agencies,nonprofit organizations and private corporations.The meeting is typically attended by some 14,000 scientistsand exhibitors, most of who represent the six sponsoring societies and some 30guest societies. Continuing medical education (CME) credits can only be earnedthis year for sessions of the American Society for Investigative Pathology.The poster sessions will be held in the San Diego ConventionCenter, but additional poster competitions will also be held at the San DiegoMarriott Marquis and Marina and Hilton Bayfront Hotel.
 
Obscurins in breasttissue may predict and detect breast cancer
 
BETHESDA, Md.—The Federation of American Societies forExperimental Biology (FASEB) notes that new research in The FASEB Journalsuggests that obscurins suppress breast cancer formation, and this finding maylead to a new tool to help physicians assess breast cancer risk as well asdiagnose the disease.In the report, researchers from Johns Hopkins University andthe University of Maryland explain how proteins called obscurins, once believedto only be in muscle cells, act as tumor suppressor genes in the breast. Whentheir expression is lost, or their genes mutated in epithelial cells of thebreast, cancer develops.
 
"Our studies on the role of obscurins in the development ofbreast cancer lay the framework for a series of in-depth investigations aimingto understand how these proteins act to prevent tumor formation," said Dr.Aikaterini Kontrogianni-Konstantopoulos, a researcher involved in the work fromthe Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University ofMaryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. "It is our hope that our researchwill provide important new insights into breast tumor biology and ultimatelyyield new targets for the development of innovative therapeutic strategies."
 
FASEB releases newNIH state fact sheets
 
BETHESDA, Md.—The Federation of American Societies forExperimental Biology (FASEB) has released a new series of fact sheetsdescribing the importance of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding toeach state. Available on FASEB's web site, each fact sheet includes NIH fundingby congressional district, a summary of the institutional and commercialbiomedical research profile for the state and an overview of the role of NIHsupport in advancing research accomplishments. In addition, the fact sheetsfeature talking points summarizing how investment in NIH research benefitslocal economies through job creation, improved health of citizens and thepromotion of innovation.
 
"With increased scrutiny of all government spending andresearch and development activities facing unprecedented funding cuts, it isimperative that scientists and concerned citizens educate their electedofficials about the impact of NIH funding on their communities," said FASEB'spresident, Dr. Joseph C. LaManna. "More than 80 percent of the NIH budget isdistributed to researchers in nearly every congressional district in the UnitedStates. Cutting back on this investment will delay discoveries that can lead tonew treatments and improved health. It will also discourage younger people whoare interested in pursuing careers in science. The FASEB NIH state fact sheetsare a tremendous resource to provide scientists with all they need to conveytheir messages effectively, whether they are new to biomedical science advocacyor longtime leaders in the field." 
 

 
Who's who among thesocieties
 
Sponsoring Societiesat Experimental Bio 2012
Guest societiesparticipating in Experimental Bio 2012
 
American Associationof Anatomists
  • Brazilian Society of Anatomy
  • Chinese Society of Anatomical Sciences 
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
  • Behavioral Pharmacology Society
AmericanPhysiological Society
  • American Federation for Medical Research
  • Association of Latin American PhysiologicalSocieties
  • Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologistsof India
  • Austrian Physiological Society
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Brazilian Society of Physiology
  • Hungarian Physiological Society
  • Kazakh Physiological Society
  • The Microcirculatory Society
  • Physiological Society of India
  • The Physiological Society – UK
  • Sociedad Mexicana de Ciencias Fisiologicas
  • Société de Physiologie – France
  • Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine
  • Turkish Society of Physiological Science 
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    • Division of Biological Chemistry — AmericanChemical Society 
    American Society for Investigative Pathology
    • American College of Veterinary Pathologists
    • American Society for Matrix Biology
    • International Society for Analytical andMolecular Morphology
    • International Society for Biological andEnvironmental Repositories
    • Società Italiana di Patologia/Italian PathologySociety
    • Society for Cardiovascular Pathology
    American Society for Nutrition
    • American Dietetic Association
    • American Society of Animal Science
    • ILSI North America·Korean Nutrition Society
  • Plant Phenolic and Human Health ResearchInterest Group

  •  
    Future meeting dates
     
    April 20-24, 2013
    Boston
     
    April 26-30, 2014
    San Diego
     
    March 28-April 1, 2015
    BostonApril 2-6, 2016San Diego
     

     
    Overseeing it all
     
    Of the six sponsoring societies for the Experimental Biologyannual meetings, each one rotates in terms of the program chair and overallcoordination duties for the show. This year, that duty fell to the AmericanSociety of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).But acting as a kind of umbrella, or perhaps more accuratelya policy and advocacy touchpoint, for ASPET and the other five sponsoringsocieties—as well as 20 other societies involved with experimental biology—isthe Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
     
    Located in Bethesda, Md., FASEB was originally created bythree independent scientific organizations to provide a forum in which to holdeducational meetings, develop publications and disseminate biological researchresults.As FASEB notes on its web site, "What started as a smallgroup of dedicated scientists has grown to be the nation's largest coalition ofbiomedical researchers, representing 26 scientific societies and over 100,000researchers from around the world. FASEB is now recognized as the policy voiceof biological and biomedical researchers."
     
    The mission of FASEB is to advance health and welfare bypromoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences throughservice to its member societies and collaborative advocacy. The organizationcelebrated its 100th anniversary this year and counts among itsduties the providing of society management services; management of manyscientific meetings, conferences and exhibit halls each year; publication of The FASEB Journal; and providing careerresources through job and resume postings, networking and educational seminars.
     

     
    Public policy programs
     
    A pair of public policy programs is scheduled to take placeat Experimental Biology 2012, as follows:
     
    Tutorial: NationalInstitutes of Health—Programs and Policies Update from Institutes
    Chairs: John Chatham and Susan Barman
    Tuesday, April 24, 2 p.m.San Diego Convention Center, Room 1A
     
    Inside the Beltwayand Up on the Hill
    Joseph LaManna, president of the Federation of AmericanSocieties for Experimental Biology
    Saturday, April 21, 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.San Diego Convention Center, Room 7B

     
    Career advancement at EB 2012
     
    The Federation of American Societies for ExperimentalBiology (FASEB) Career Resources and Maximizing Access to Research Careers(MARC) program office will offer seminars in the Career Resources Center at theExperimental Biology 2012 annual meeting. EB 2012 registration is required toparticipate in the seminars.
     
    Among the many offerings are sessions on the following:using LinkedIn in the Ph.D. job search, the nuances of the industrial hiringprocess, preparing for a career transition in the life sciences, Ph.D.negotiation skills, professional development for Ph.D.s, managing thepostdoctoral experience, leadership principles, job hunting in thebiotechnology industry and compensation negotiation for scientiststransitioning to industry.
     
    FASEB Career Resources Center opportunities will alsoinclude a virtual career fair before, during and after the meeting;computer-assisted registration, "search-and-referral" services, interviewscheduling and message services; on-site interview facilities; a "positionavailable" posting area (unlimited postings included with employerregistration); cover letter and resume critique workshops; and a message centerfor applicants and employers.
     
    The FASEB MARC Program is sponsoring EB 2012 travel awardsto help support the participation of faculty, mentors, postdoctoral fellows andstudents from minority institutions and historically black colleges anduniversities. The travel awards are funded for travel-related expenses andmeeting registration. Travel awards are provided as reimbursements after themeeting.
     

     
    Career Development Sessions
     

    Anatomy

    • Climbingthe Academic Ladder: Skills Needed for Each Rung
    • Connectingwith Different Audiences: The Anatomy of Communication
    • CareerNetworking Break
    • Ask aCareer Advisor

    Physiology

    • ConflictResolution: How to Keep Everyone Happy!
    • Do INeed Another Degree?
    • E-MediaTools for the Professional Scientist
    • Publishing101: How to Get Your Work Published in APS Journals and Avoid MinefieldsAlong the Way

    Biochemistry

    • ASBMB16th Annual Undergraduate Student Research Poster Competition
    • ASBMBGraduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development Program
    • ASBMBWelcome and Networking Reception sponsored by the ASBMB Minority AffairsCommittee
    • ASBMBWomen Scientists Panel and Networking Reception
    • Insidethe JBC: A How-To Workshop for Authors
    • MaximizingInstitutional Effectiveness
    • MaximizingTeaching Effectiveness
    • MaximizingYour Marketability
    • MaximizingYour Global Outreach
    • ProfessionalDevelopment Workshop for Students, Post-docs and Junior Faculty
    • SpeedDating: Finding Your Perfect Career "Match" (for Undergraduates)

    Pharmacology

    • GraduateStudent-Postdoctoral Colloquium: Communication
    • Womenin Pharmacology: Networking Session
    • DiversityMentoring Breakfast
    • WIPinto Shape Networking Walk
    • Student/Post-docBest Abstract Competition

    Pathology

    • CareerDevelopment Workshop and Breakfast: Getting Your Dream
    • Job:Preparing Your CV and Managing Your Interview
    • 12thAnnual Career Development Program and Lunch: Fundamental Basics forSuccess: How to Write Award-Winning Grants

    Nutrition

    • ScientificCareer Advancement for Early Stage Investigators
    • ANurturing Environment Produces Future Legends: Development of Careerthrough Successful Mentor-Mentee Relationships
    • MedicalNutrition Council Clinical Emerging Leader Award Competition
    • NutritionalSciences Council Graduate Student Research Award Competition
    • InternationalNutrition Council Kellogg International Student Prize Competition
    • PostdoctoralResearch Award Competition endowed by Solae LLC

     
    Famous places to gowhen you're not at the show
     
    San Diego Zoo
     
    One of the premier zoos in the United States, this facilityis a sanctuary for thousands of animals and rare plants. Exhibits include a7.5-acre multispecies habitat featuring elephants, California condors, jaguarsand more that helps teach visitors about the zoo's conservation efforts. Animalenclosures are designed to be as realistic as possible to promote the naturalbehavior of the animals, so that guests can get a better sense of how theanimals live in the wild, whether they are polar bears in the Arctic tundra,okapis in the Ituri Forest or bonobos in the jungles of the Congo.
     
    The zoo offers a guided bus tour of the grounds, as well asthe Skyfari aerial tram that provides visitors a bird's-eye view of the100-acre facility. At the Wegeforth Bowl and Hunte Amphitheatre, guests canwatch animals such as sea lions and wolves that can't be seen anywhere else inthe zoo show off some of their natural behaviors. The zoo also featuresrestaurants ranging from the gourmet to the casual.
     
    Wild Animal Park
     
    If you didn't get enough animals at the San Diego Zooitself, or weren't satisfied that the enclosures were realistic enough, try avisit to the zoo's 213-acre Wild Animal Park, a separate location featuringhuge open enclosures that allow herds of African and Asian animals to roam andinteract with each other.
     
    Visitors can get up close to these wild andendangered animals thanks to the Journey into Africa tour, which emulatessafari tours in Africa but with vehicles that run on biodiesel for a moreeco-friendly vibe. The experience brings visitors to eye level with animalssuch as white rhinoceroses, giraffes, Cape buffalo, Roosevelt's gazelles,African crowned cranes and more. Other animal exhibits can be found at the park as well, in amore zoo-like fashion, allowing guests to see a cheetah, alligator, owl or boaconstrictor, and the park features two different animal shows daily.
     
    Sea World
     
    Certainly, Shamu the killer whale is the most famous denizenof this aquatic animal park, but there is also the Shark Encounter, whichallows visitors to walk through a submerged tube while sharks swim around them;the Wild Arctic and Penguin Encounter exhibits; a California tide pool exhibit;a freshwater aquarium and the World of the Sea aquarium; Wonders of the River;and the Sesame Street Bay of Play.
     

    Jeffrey Bouley

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