The American Society for Experimental Pathology (ASEP) was founded in 1913. ASEP merged with the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists (founded in 1900 and responsible for establishing not only The American Journal of Pathology (AJP) but also the Rous-Whipple Award) in 1976 to establish what is now the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP has been the professional home for basic scientists and physician-scientists working on all aspects of disease-related research for 115 years. Our membership represents an eclectic mixture of investigators with widely varying training, expertise, and research interests. While many of our physician-scientist members trained in pathology, most of our basic science members are not formally trained in that discipline. Rather, they were trained in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, microbiology, immunology, or some other basic science or clinical science discipline. Likewise, not all ASIP members reside in academic departments of pathology - some can be found in other basic science or clinical academic departments, and some work outside of academics. The research conducted by our members encompasses basic science, translational science, and applied science, and includes neoplastic diseases, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, genetic diseases, infectious diseases, and more. While there are numerous obvious differences across our membership, there are also some common features. We share an interest in mechanisms of disease, our research programs are built upon the investigation of mechanisms of disease, and the results we generate contribute to the larger understanding of mechanisms of disease. Hence, despite our numerous individual differences, we are all experimental pathologists by virtue of the nature of the research that we do. The strength of our Society is reflected in both our diversity and our common themes. Our Society has a proud heritage and long history, and our current membership continues to contribute in significant ways to their respective fields of experimental pathology.
As I begin my term as President in July, I have contemplated the near future of the ASIP and the challenges we face collectively as members of the Society, and as individual basic scientists, physician-scientists, and translational researchers. Challenges for our Society relate to identity, membership, and membership engagement. Challenges for individual members relate to research funding, collaboration, publication of results, and promotion.
As a Society, we cannot escape the identity crisis we have confronted in the past - what is pathology and how do pathologists fit into the basic framework of biomedical science? This is an ongoing challenge that requires our members to educate others regarding the nature of the discipline of experimental pathology and how our research describes and investigates the pathology, pathogenesis, and pathophysiology of specific diseases. Overcoming this identity crisis will not be easy and requires enduring effort on the part of each member, but our success will be evident as we continue to attract bright and enthusiastic young investigators into the field of experimental pathology. Currently, the ASIP has a healthy trainee membership consisting of undergraduates, graduate students (PhD, MD, DVM MD-PhD, DVM-PhD students), and postdoctoral fellows. These trainee members represent the bright and enthusiastic young investigators that we want to recruit into careers in experimental pathology. Hence, it is important for the ASIP to continue strong recruitment of trainee members. It is even more critical to the future of our Society that we retain our trainee members over the long-term with their transition into the regular membership.
Equally important to the future of the ASIP is to increase the total membership. As a small scientific society, we need to recruit regular members to strengthen our numbers on an ongoing basis. Increased numbers of members will enable sustainment of important scientific programs, may increase attendance at our scientific meetings, and will provide a more robust pool of members to draw upon for leadership and committee positions within the Society. The ASIP Membership Committee is focused on efforts to retain our current members and recruit new members through innovative initiatives and hard work. However, we recognize that our best tool for recruitment of new trainee members and regular members is our current active membership. We encourage you to invite your colleagues, peers, associates, and trainees to join the ASIP (http://www.asip.org/apply/). Through local efforts by individual members, we can succeed in increasing our membership during the next year and establish sustainable membership recruitment patterns among our membership, ensuring success into the distant future.
However, increased membership is not enough! We want our members to be engaged in the Society at all levels. Hence, membership engagement will be a major focus of the leadership during the next year. Engagement reflects involvement in the activities and efforts of the ASIP - including attendance and participation at the Annual Meeting (and/or other meetings that the ASIP sponsors such as PISA 2015), membership in and participation with one or more Scientific Interest Groups (or leading such a group), volunteering to sit on a Committee (Career Development and Diversity, Education, Membership, Program, Publication, Research and Science Policy), or making other contributions to specific projects. Participation of this sort is nearly impossible for ordinary members of large scientific societies, but represents a valuable member benefit in the ASIP.
The majority of ASIP members are active researchers with primary concerns related to research funding, collaboration, publication of results, and promotion. With increasing difficulty in securing NIH funding for research, our members need a voice in Washington DC to advocate for increased funding levels, and to speak to other important issues including animal and human subjects in research, open access, and regulatory burden. Members of the ASIP have such a voice through the FASEB Office of Public Affairs, which regularly interacts with members of Congress on these and other issues, and also works directly with the NIH leadership on matters of importance to individual researchers. In addition, the ASIP Research and Science Policy Committee works on specific projects that complement the activities of the FASEB Office of Public Affairs, especially those specifically related to pathology and human subjects research, to generate white papers in an effort to shape the discussion and/or influence the outcome of various initiatives in governmental agencies and legislative bodies. ASIP members are frequently invited to comment on the issues being addressed by these groups.
Beyond research funding, individual members want to develop beneficial research collaborations and publish their results in good journals. The ASIP provides several forums for interaction among individual members, including various scientific and networking events at the Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology (and/or other meetings sponsored by the ASIP such as PISA), as well as through the Scientific Interest Groups (http://www.asip.org/SIGs/). Face-to-face interactions among members in these settings are valuable for trainees and junior investigators to meet senior investigators, for new investigators to interface with established investigators to exchange ideas or resources, and collaborations within or across scientific disciplines often emerge. Members that engage in the activities of the ASIP, particularly through the scientific meetings, derive real professional benefit from interactions with other members.
Publication of research results is critical to the success of investigators and their laboratories. Our members publish in a range of journals including pathology journals, general interest journals, and specialty journals. All too often, The American Journal of Pathology is overlooked as members decide where to submit their research results. (Only 7% of articles published in AJP are authored by ASIP members.) In some cases, the research to be published is better suited for a specialty journal, but in many cases the topic of the research is perfectly appropriate for consideration by AJP. As the official journal of the ASIP, AJP is a natural platform for showcasing the research performed by our members. Good things are happening with the AJP - the impact factor is trending higher and the time to first decision is trending down. We encourage all of our members to read the papers published in AJP, cite the work that appears in AJP, and consider AJP when submitting research for publication. Manuscript submission fees are waived for corresponding authors who are ASIP Regular and Next Century members and ASIP Regular members receive a discount on publication charges in both AJP and The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. Promotion in the academic research environment and non-academic settings alike interact with seasoned investigators through the Annual Meeting, PISA, and the Scientific Interest Groups. These interactions can be very useful for establishing collaborations and to become known to others in your field of research. Likewise, members that engage in the Society's core functions through involvement with committees develop relationships with others in the larger community of pathology. These interpersonal relationships are valuable for trainee members as they pursue postdoctoral research opportunities, as well as when established investigators seek academic promotion or elevation of job responsibilities in the non-academic setting.
Beyond the challenges that we face, the coming year (or next few years) present the collective ASIP membership and individual members with numerous excellent opportunities. We are enthusiastically looking forward to PISA2015 (http://www.pisa2015.org/), which will take place in October in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore MD. PISA2015 represents the first stand-alone meeting of the ASIP and will focus on "recent advances in cell injury, inflammation, and neoplasia." The speaker line-up for PISA2015 is world-class and participating members of the ASIP will present their own work through abstract-driven sessions. As members of the Society, we have the opportunity to make this new meeting a success by submitting abstracts and registering to attend. The format of the meeting will facilitate interactions and networking among members and with speakers. In the Spring of 2016, the ASIP Annual Meeting will occur at Experimental Biology (in San Diego CA) and the ASIP scientific program will be strong. We encourage members of the Society that have not attended the Annual Meeting recently or on a regular basis to plan to attend EB2016 to see what the ASIP has to offer - in the scientific program, for trainees, for member networking, and socially among our members. In conjunction with these scientific meetings, members are encouraged to reach out to the leadership or staff to identify opportunities to volunteer on ASIP Committees or in other Society activities. Likewise, we encourage all members to consider the various Scientific Interest Groups the ASIP provides (http://www.asip.org/SIGs/) and join one (or more) and engage the group during the year and participate in sponsored activities at scientific conferences. Throughout the year, we will perform research in our individual laboratories seeking to advance knowledge related to the pathology, pathogenesis, or pathophysiology of specific diseases. We encourage all our members to utilize The American Journal of Pathology as a source of information and as a platform for publication of original research. The opportunities afforded by the ASIP for its members are plentiful. We look forward to seeing a greater percentage of our membership actively engaged and taking advantage of these opportunities during 2015/2016 and in the years to follow.
There is great excitement for the coming year for the American Society for Investigative Pathology. While we remain true to our core functions and activities, we are trying some new things (like PISA2015) to enhance the experience of our members in the setting of the scientific meeting. Our official journal (The American Journal of Pathology) continues to publish high quality research papers and reviews and its impact factor is trending up. After many years of slowly declining membership numbers, our membership has stabilized and new initiatives seek to increase our membership through recruitment of new members, conversion of trainee members to regular members, and retention of current active members. Newly formed Scientific Interest Groups are beginning to function effectively, providing members with additional ways to disseminate and seek information, interact/network, and collaborate. The future of our Society is bright, but the long-term success of the ASIP will depend upon the membership and the willingness of individual members to commit to and engage in the activities and functions of our Society.
William B. Coleman, PhD