Expanding SLB's Profile in the Scientific Community

By Lee-Ann Allen, PhD, SLB President & Louis Justement, PhD, SLB Councilor and FASEB President-Elect

Since 1992, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has provided management, meeting, and publishing services to SLB. This productive partnership helped SLB’s structure evolve and provided significant value to our members. Given SLB’s desire to expand the society’s involvement in science advocacy, communication, and policy and FASEB’s outstanding reputation in the scientific community, a decision was made to pursue full membership in FASEB.

On July 2, the FASEB Board formally approved SLB’s application for membership. It was a unanimous vote reflecting FASEB’s strong interest in having SLB’s unique perspective and energy in the Federation’s public affairs activities. As noted in a news announcement, SLB is pleased to join the FASEB community and looks forward to providing our members with new resources and opportunities as a result of this partnership.

Founded in 1912, FASEB was established by three independent scientific organizations to provide a forum to hold educational meetings, develop publications, and disseminate biological research results. What started as a small group of dedicated scientists has grown to become the nation’s largest coalition of biomedical researchers, representing 29 scientific societies and over 130,000 researchers. FASEB is now recognized as the policy voice of the biological and biomedical research community.

Collaborative advocacy on behalf of increased funding for research is a top priority for FASEB as well as SLB. Each year, FASEB develops funding recommendations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC), U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Veterans Administration Medical & Prosthetic Research Program. The recommendations are developed following extensive conversations with FASEB member societies and are submitted to Congress in early spring. SLB will have a seat at the table when FASEB begins conversations about the recommended 2021 funding level for NIH and other agencies later this year.

In addition, SLB will be given the opportunity to send members to Capitol Hill Day in Washington, DC in March 2020 joining researchers from other societies to urge their Senators and Representatives to support FASEB’s funding recommendations. An advocacy training session provided by FASEB the day before the congressional visits will give everyone the chance to practice their talking points and learn what to expect from their meetings on Capitol Hill. FASEB staff arrange the meetings and provide detailed factsheets that include data on the total amount of funding each state and district receives as well as the number of grants, bioscience jobs, and institutions awarded grants by NIH, NSF, DOE SC, and USDA. These factsheets can be co-branded with the SLB logo.

FASEB’s advocacy resources and training are also available to its member societies year-round. Through FASEB’s website, SLB members have access to a toolkit that includes instructions for scheduling a meeting with elected officials, a guide for how to host a lab visit, talking points for meetings with policymakers, an online tool to send emails to Senators and Representatives, tips for using social media to connect with members of Congress, a slide deck on the value of biological research, and sample letters to the editor. The bi-weekly Washington Update newsletter provides the latest news on advocacy and science policy inside the Beltway. SLB members can subscribe to receive the publication directly from FASEB.

The federation also offers webinars on a variety of topics, covering science policy, advocacy, and professional development opportunities. All webinars are recorded and archived on the FASEB website.

As a leading voice in the scientific community, FASEB’s science policy activities align closely with SLB’s priorities including addressing sex differences in pre-clinical research, promoting and creating opportunities for young investigators, and monitoring and influencing changes in NIH policies and procedures. FASEB’s expert science policy staff works with member societies to develop and promote policies to advance research and education in the biological and biomedical sciences. FASEB’s science policy team also conducts research, issues reports, coordinates the submission of comments on proposed federal regulations, and organizes workshops and symposia on emerging issues.

The majority of FASEB’s science policy work is done through the Science Policy Committee (SPC) that reports to the Board. Each member society is expected to appoint a member to the SPC to ensure that FASEB statements represent a broad cross section of the research community. The SPC is responsible for providing input used to develop FASEB positions and official comments that are submitted to the Board for final approval. Several topical subcommittees focused on research models, training and workforce, and research policy divide up the work of the SPC and offer opportunities for SLB to engage their members in FASEB’s policy development process.

Major initiatives currently being led by the FASEB SPC are focused on preventing harassment in science, improving rigor and reproducibility, and monitoring and responding to legislation and policies related to the use of animals in research. This fall, the SPC will also convene a virtual symposium exploring challenges faced by women in science. Through a series of webinars, FASEB will discuss work-life balance, negotiating start-up packages, financial planning, and transitioning from research to administrative roles.

FASEB’s has a long-standing interest in recognizing female scientists through its Excellence in Science (EiS) Awards. Recipients are women whose career achievements have contributed significantly to further our understanding of a particular discipline. This year, two new awards were given to a mid-career and early-career investigator in addition to the existing lifetime achievement designation. Each award comes with an unrestricted cash grant and travel expenses to present a lecture at an annual meeting of a FASEB member society. SLB members will be eligible for the FASEB EiS Awards for the 2021 cycle. Nomination information will be announced in early 2020.

By becoming a member of FASEB, SLB will be able to lend the society’s voice to efforts to advocate for science and engage in policy at a critically important time. Members of SLB will play active roles in the Federation. Louis Justement (Councilor, SLB) currently serves as President-Elect and will become President of the Federation on July 1st, 2020. The inaugural members of the FASEB Board and SPC are Lee-Ann Allen (President, SLB) and Robert Clark (Immediate Past-President, SLB), respectively. There will be other opportunities for SLB members to serve as members of SPC subcommittees, or on other standing and ordinary committees of the Federation. Continuing our partnership with FASEB as a member society will significantly enhance the ability of SLB to expand our profile in the scientific community in support of the society’s efforts to promote the field of leukocyte biology.