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 > BLOG > July 2015

ASIP Pathogenesis Blog, July 2015

President's Perspective. . .Looking to the Near Future
William B. Coleman, PhD, ASIP President

As I begin my term as President, I have contemplated the near future of the American Society for Investigative Pathology 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, membership engagement, and core functions. Challenges for individual members relate to research funding, collaboration, publication of results, and promotion.

The Pathology Identity Crisis
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 at the molecular, cellular, organ, and organismal level. Lack of understanding of the nature of the larger field of pathology (and its subspecialty areas of research) causes us to lose potential members to scientific societies that are more easily recognizable with respect to research focus and/or feature a more narrow research focus. 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.

Society Membership
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 imperative 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 ASIP. Through local efforts by individual members, we can succeed in increasing our membership during the coming year and establish sustainable membership recruitment patterns among our membership, ensuring success into the distant future.

Membership Engagement
While increasing our overall membership is very important, simply increasing the number of individuals with membership in our Society 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 PISA2015), 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, Meritorious Awards, Nominating, Program, Publications, or 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 leadership will promote engagement of the membership through enhanced communication via this monthly blog, the ASIPPathways newsletter, the Scientific Interest Groups, and regular email updates.

Society Core Functions
The mission of the ASIP is " promote the discovery, advancement, and dissemination of basic and translational knowledge in experimental pathology and related disciplines...through meetings, publications, and educational activities...". Historically, meetings organized by the ASIP have provided members with a strong scientific program, opportunities to present their own work, and an excellent networking environment. This year the ASIP expands its meeting offerings to include Pathobiology for Investigators, Students, and Academicians 2015 (PISA2015) 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. 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. Likewise, we encourage all members to join one (or more) of the various Scientific Interest Groups the ASIP provides, engage the group during the year, and participate in sponsored activities at scientific conferences. The official journal of the ASIP is The American Journal of Pathology (AJP). The editorial leadership of AJP has worked hard to improve journal performance metrics (including impact factor) and to ensure that manuscripts are rapidly reviewed. The AJP publishes original research and reviews on topics of great interest. Hence, the AJP represents a tremendously valuable source of information for investigators and an excellent platform for publication of original research.

Research Funding
The majority of ASIP members are active biomedical researchers with primary concerns related to research funding. With each passing year, the ability of individual researchers to secure funding from the NIH declines in conjunction with decreased dollars appropriated to support basic science research. Hence, our members need a presence in Washington DC to participate in activities that promote increased funding for basic biomedical research, 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 presence through the activities of 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.

Research Collaboration
Beyond research funding, individual members want to develop beneficial research collaborations. 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 PISA2015), as well as through the Scientific Interest Groups. 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 Original Research
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 (AJP) 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 (JMD).

Career Advancement and Promotion
Promotion in the academic research environment and non-academic settings alike requires numerous criteria to be fulfilled, including research productivity and national reputation. ASIP members can cultivate productivity and national reputation by participating in Society activities and functions. ASIP provides opportunities for new investigators to present their work and interact with seasoned investigators through the Annual Meeting, PISA 2015 and through the Scientific Interest Groups. These interactions are extremely useful for establishing collaborations and for individuals to become known to others in their 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.

The Future Is Now
There is great excitement for the coming year among members of the American Society for Investigative Pathology. While we remain true to our core functions and activities, we are trying some new things to enhance the experience of our members. New initiatives include a new scientific meeting (PISA2015) and the robust Scientific Interest Groups that promote greater interaction among members with common interests. 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.

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