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Thursday, April 25, 2013


Bethesda, MD: The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is pleased to announce its release of the latest edition of the Breakthroughs in Bioscience series: "Conquering Cancer with Drugs from Nature's Medicine Cabinet". Also available as a downloadable podcast, the article is the second of a two-part series that discusses the basic research foundations of the development of natural product-derived medicines (see part one here) and specifically focuses on cancer treatments.

In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of Taxol, which derives from the Pacific yew tree, increased the five-year survival rate of metastatic ovarian cancer patients from 20 to 80 percent.  More recently, seven anti-cancer drugs resulting from natural compounds were approved by the FDA, while seven more are currently in the drug-development pipeline.

The Breakthroughs in Bioscience series is a collection of illustrated articles, published by FASEB, that highlight the recent developments in basic biomedical research and explain how they impact medicine and human health. To obtain free copies of these publications, visit the FASEB Breakthroughs in Bioscience web site at http://www.faseb.org/break-throughs or contact FASEB's Office of Public Affairs at 301.634.7650.

FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Contact Person: Lawrence Green  (lgreen@faseb.org)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WABI 2013 paper submission deadline is May 17th

High quality manuscripts describing advances in algorithms for bioinformatics are solicited for peer review and presentation at the 13th annual Workshop on Algorithms in Bioinformatics (WABI 2013). WABI 2013 will be part of ALGO 2013, hosted by INRIA and Campus SophiaTech, in Sophia Antipolis, France.
Papers must be submitted no later than May 17th for consideration.

For further information please refer to the conference web site and call for papers:
URL: http://algo2013.inria.fr/wabi-call.shtml

Contact Person: A/Professor Aaron Darling (aaron.darling@uts.edu.au)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

President Obama proposes increasing for scientific funding

The President's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget is now available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Overview. The good news is that President Obama proposed funding increases for all of the federal science agencies of primary interest to FASEB! A PDF of the complete document is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/budget.pdf. Here is a preliminary analysis of the proposed funding levels for the research agencies (note: all comparisons are to the FY 2012 enacted levels because that is the baseline used in the Obama budget):

National Institutes of Health (NIH) – $31 billion, an increase of $350 million (+1.1%). More detail athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/health.pdf

National Science Foundation (NSF) – $7.6 billion, an increase of $593 million (+8.4%). More detail athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/science.pdf.

Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC) – $5 billion, an increase of approximately $200 million (+ 5.7%). More detail athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/energy.pdf.

Veterans Administration Medical and Prosthetic Research – $586 million, an increase of $5 million (+0.8%). More detail athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/veterans.pdf.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – $386 million, an increase of $119 million (+44.5%). More detail athttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/agriculture.pdf.

Additional detail and analysis about the President's FY 2014 budget proposal will be featured in an special edition of the Washington Update http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/FASEB-Washington-Update.aspx#sthash.pgs2npOV.dpbs newsletter that will be published later this evening.
URL: http://www.faseb.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)

Thursday, April 4, 2013


On March 7, 2013 the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) issued a response to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data and Informatics Implementation Plan that was presented at an Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) meeting in December 2012. NIH developed the implementation plan based on a report about the status of data and informatics-based biomedical sciences and recommendations to improve quantitative biomedical research.

FASEB expressed strong support for the implementation plan but highlighted a few of the recommendations that need additional attention from NIH. For example, FASEB stated that data sharing would be greatly impeded without first developing best practices regarding informed consent and intellectual property ownership. The Federation also expressed concern about the costs of the initiative in the current era of fiscal constraint.

- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1165/FASEB-RESPONDS-TO-THE-NATIONAL-INSTITUTES-OF-HEALTH-DATA-INFORMATICS-IMPLEMENTATION-PLAN.aspx#sthash.o3r2D8fu.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)


In response to a request for information issued by a National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Council of Councils Working Group, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) provided input regarding recommendations for the future use of chimpanzees in federally-supported research. The Working Group's solicitation followed the release of its report advising NIH on the implementation of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The Working Group issued 28 recommendations addressing three principal themes: ethologically appropriate physical and social environments for chimpanzees; chimpanzee colony size and placement; and the review process for future proposals to use chimpanzees in NIH-supported research.

In its letter, FASEB encouraged NIH to allow for flexibility based on animal performance when determining the appropriate physical and social environments for research. FASEB also urged NIH to delay implementation of these recommendations until discrepancies regarding appropriate housing for research chimpanzees can be resolved. While the Working Group's report recommended that approximately 50 chimpanzees be available for future research needs, FASEB suggested that a larger population of chimpanzees may be necessary for research purposes. If, at a later date, it is determined that a larger number of chimpanzees is not needed for research, they can subsequently be placed into retirement. Finally, FASEB suggested that chimpanzees chosen for retirement be retired in their current location due to the lack of space available in the federal sanctuary system and the high quality of care received in research laboratories. NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD is expected to make a decision on the recommendations soon.

- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1164/FASEB-PROVIDES-INPUT-ON-PROPOSED-RECOMMENDATIONS-FOR-USE-OF-CHIMPAZEES-IN-FEDERALLY-FUNDED-RESEARCH.aspx#sthash.LFYMcX7u.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)


Congress has begun the process of determining the budgets for each federal agency for fiscal year (FY) 2014, which begins on October 1, 2013. The House Appropriations Committee held several hearings with various agencies and is also soliciting testimony from stakeholder organizations. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has submitted written statements to the appropriations subcommittees that have jurisdiction over the following federal science agencies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

On March 15, 2013, FASEB submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies recommending a budget of no less than $32 billion for NIH in FY 2014 to prevent further loss of capacity, protect the nation's prior investment, and ensure a sustainable research program. FASEB's testimony noted that the broad program of research supported by NIH is essential for advancing the understanding of basic biological functions, reducing human suffering, and protecting the nation against new and re-emerging disease threats. Further, exciting new NIH initiatives are poised to accelerate progress in the search for cures. To not fully capitalize on these scientific opportunities would be tragic and abdicate our competitive edge that has already eroded due to the rising costs of research and the loss of purchasing power caused by years of flat budgets. Increasing the NIH budget to $32 billion would provide an addit ional $1.4 billion, relative to the funding level of the first half of FY 2013, and could support 1,700 additional investigators while still maintaining other critical areas of the NIH portfolio.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

FASEB President Judith S. Bond, PhD, delivered oral testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, recommending a minimum funding level of $7.4 billion for NSF in FY 2014 (see related story in this newsletter).

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC)

On March 26, 2013, FASEB submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies urging an appropriation of at least $5.1 billion for the DOE SC in FY 2014. As the lead federal agency supporting fundamental energy research and the nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, DOE SC funds and manages ten world-class national laboratories. Research and development programs located at the national laboratories provide over 26,000 researchers with access to particle accelerators, advanced light sources, super computers, and other state-of-the-art instrumentation. Much of this investigator-initiated research is in the biological sciences. FASEB points out that despite growing demand for access to the user facilities, DOE SC funding has not grown.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

FASEB recommended a minimum funding level of $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the USDA in testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. AFRI is the premier competitive grants program of the USDA, supporting research, extension, and education projects at public, land grant universities, and private institutions nationwide. FASEB's testimony emphasized the potential for agricultural research to help meet growing global food demands, which are expected to double by 2050.

- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1163/FASEB-SUBMITS-TESTIMONY-ON-FISCAL-YEAR-2014-FUNDING-RECOMMENDATIONS.aspx#sthash.9xzDAxtc.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)


On Thursday, March 21, 2013, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) President Judith S. Bond, PhD, was among a select group invited to testify before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee led by Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA). In her testimony, Dr. Bond requested a minimum fiscal year 2014 appropriation of $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), citing the its unique mission to support basic research and education across all disciplines of science and engineering. She also noted that the bipartisan America Competes Act of 2007 and the Competes reauthorization of 2011 called for a doubling of the NSF budget.
As one of only a handful of organizational representatives testifying on behalf of NSF, Dr. Bond spoke at length about recent examples of outstanding NSF-funded research and the Foundation's crucial role in nurturing the next generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. The themes of maintaining global leadership in innovation and enabling discovery-based economic growth were prominently featured in her remarks. Dr. Bond also reminded the Subcommittee of the critical investments the nation has made through NSF-supported research and the resources needed to maintain the capacity of the research enterprise.
Chairman Wolf responded that NSF, and the other programs funded through the discretionary budget, would "continue to be squeezed" until Congress and the President could reach a "grand bargain" to address the nation's immediate and long-term fiscal challenges. He then reiterated his support for NSF and thanked Dr. Bond for her thoughtful testimony.
- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1162/FASEB-PRESIDENT-TESTIFIES-ON-BEHALF-OF-THE-NATIONAL-SCIENCE-FOUNDATION-BUDGET.aspx#sthash.3aCw1Oq7.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org:

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)


The unfinished 2013 appropriations bills and the 2014 Budget Resolution collided in a fiscal frenzy on Capitol Hill in the days leading up to the congressional spring break. Facing a two-week recess that was scheduled to start a few days prior to the March 27 expiration of the "continuing resolution" (CR) that was keeping federal agencies funded, and a mid-April deadline to produce a budget blueprint for the forthcoming fiscal year (FY), lawmakers temporarily set aside their disagreements and completed one of the most productive periods of legislative activity in recent memory.

By the time members of Congress left Washington, they had passed an FY 2013 spending package (HR 933) that continued funding for some agencies under a revised CR and combined five appropriations measures, including those that provide funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, into an omnibus bill. Basic research funded by NSF received a $221 million increase above the FY 2012 level. In addition, $33.4 million was added to the FY 2012 AFRI budget.

The House passed HR 933 by a vote of 318-109. Senate approval followed one day later on a 73-26 vote, and President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 26. HR 933 includes a discretionary spending cap of $984 billion, which is equal to the FY 2013 spending total ($1.043 trillion) mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, minus the cuts necessary to implement the March 1 sequestration order.

Although HR 933 provides NSF and AFRI with funding through regular appropriations bills, NIH will continue to operate under a CR that provides a $71 million increase over its FY 2012 level. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC) is also funded through the revised CR. Despite the funding increases in the FY 2013 spending package, nearly all of the federal research agencies will have their budgets cut by 5.1 percent due to sequestration.

Various amendments were considered during debate on the FY 2013 spending package. An amendment offered by Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) would have added the text of the entire LHHS bill to HR 933 and provided NIH with a $210 million increase over its FY 2012 level. Unfortunately, the amendment failed to win the 60 votes necessary for passage. Another amendment, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ), to prohibit NSF from conducting political science research unless the Foundation's Director certifies that the project "promotes the national security or economic interests" of the U.S. was adopted unanimously. Senator Coburn also proposed, but ultimately did not offer, an amendment to place a 25-person limit on the number of federal employees who could participate in conferences. However, the spending package did include language prohibiting more than 50 employees from the mili tary or the Veterans Administration (VA) from attending conferences outside the U.S. unless their participation is "important to the national interest."

In addition to finalizing the FY 2013 budget, both the House and Senate passed Budget Resolutions setting overall spending priorities for FY 2014. Passage of the Senate Budget Resolution marked the first time since 2009 that the chamber had achieved that key fiscal milestone, although all members of Congress had an extra incentive to approve their respective budgets this year. In January, Congress passed legislation stating that lawmakers would not receive paychecks if they failed to pass a Budget Resolution by April 15.

The House budget (H Con Res 25) was drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). It passed 221 to 207 with all Democrats and ten Republicans voting against the plan. The Ryan budget proposes to eliminate the deficit within ten years and establishes the FY 2014 discretionary spending level at $966 billion, which was $92 billion less than the BCA cap. Ryan's plan also assumes that non-defense discretionary accounts will absorb all of the spending cuts mandated by the second year of sequestration.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray's proposal (S Con Res 8) also sets the overall discretionary spending level at $966 billion. However, Senator Murray assumes that Congress will eventually pass legislation to replace sequestration with an alternative deficit reduction plan. The Senate Budget Resolution passed by a narrow 50 to 49 vote after four Democrats up for re-election in 2014 (Max Baucus, MT; Mark Begich, AK; Kay Hagan, NC; Mark Pryor, AR) and all Republicans voted against it. The Senate considered more than 70 amendments during debate on the Budget Resolution, including a bipartisan proposal—authored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and co-sponsored by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)—to create a special "reserve fund" to increase funding for NIH. A "reserve fund" allows the Senate Budget Committee to modify spending allocations if the appropriators are able to provide additional funding for NIH without increasing the deficit. The Durbin-Moran amendment was adopted by voice vote.

The budget battles of the last few weeks offered a preview of the fiscal fights ahead. President Obama will release his FY 2014 budget proposal on April 10, and the appropriators are expected to begin work on the FY 2014 spending bills later in the month. As in previous years, the 2014 appropriations process is expected to be contentious. The differing spending assumptions in the House and Senate Budget Resolutions mean that the House appropriators will be drafting bills that spend $55 billion less than their Senate counterparts. In addition, unless Congress reaches agreement on a plan to replace the FY 2014 sequestration cuts with an alternative plan, the federal science agencies face another round of budget reductions.

- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1161/INSIDE-THE-BELTWAY-SCOOP-JENNIFER-ZEITZER.aspx#sthash.KdD6l2om.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org:

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)


On March 19, over 40 scientists from 21 states traveled to Washington, DC to participate in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology's (FASEB) annual Capitol Hill Day. Representatives of FASEB member societies met with more than 70 congressional offices to share personal stories about how federal funding cuts are affecting their research and presented FASEB's fiscal year 2014 funding recommendations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, and other research agencies.

Participants framed their discussions by suggesting that Congress view laboratories as small businesses, which lose purchasing power and are forced to lay-off staff as a result of funding cuts. Several also spoke about the importance of having funding to train the next generation of scientists as well as the lack of career opportunities available for younger researchers in the current budget climate. Sequestration is a "clear loss of prior investment" in research and research personnel, stressed Kim Barrett, PhD, President-Elect of the American Physiological Society and Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of California San Diego.

FASEB also released a new sequestration fact sheet illustrating the extent of the cuts to the NIH budget, the effect of these reductions on each state, and the ramifications of the lost opportunities for scientific progress. Members of Congress and their staff expressed appreciation for the fact sheet; specifically, the data showing that sequestration was draining real dollars from their home states and districts. "Capitol Hill Day is part of FASEB's ongoing efforts to inform members of Congress about the irreparable and long-lasting harm sequestration will do to biomedical research," stated FASEB President Judith S. Bond, PhD.

- See more at: http://www.faseb.org/Policy-and-Government-Affairs/Publications/Washington-Update-Viewer/tabid/1050/ArticleId/1160/FASEB-BRINGS-RESEARCHERS-TO-CAPITOL-HILL-TO-DISCUSS-IMPACT-OF-FUNDING-CUTS-ON-LOCAL-COMMUNITIES.aspx#sthash.MKndqCmT.dpuf
URL: http://fasab.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Zeitzer (jzeitzer@faseb.org)