Public Affairs

Lorsch to Lead NIGMS

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced on March 25 that Jon Lorsch will be the next director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Lorsch is currently a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. He received a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. His research, which NIGMS has funded since 2000, focuses on translation initiation in eukaryotes.

In response to an NIH blog post announcing Lorsch’s appointment, past NIGMS Director Jeremy Berg wrote “Jon is a great catch for NIGMS…at Johns Hopkins, he demonstrated his skills as a scientist, as a mentor, and as a teacher. In addition, his tremendous leadership potential revealed itself soon after his arrival. He was a driving force in curriculum reform efforts, both in the graduate school and in the medical school. In these contexts, he demonstrated great commitment to first principles and fundamentals while, at the same time, integrating a wide range of perspectives into plans to move forward. He can manage well with day-to-day matters, but seems to thrive tackling tough and important problems that need addressing. I am sure that the NIGMS community will enjoy working with Jon through these challenging times.”

Lorsch comes to NIGMS at a time when the Institute is tackling training and workforce issues based on recommendations of a report on the subject matter conducted in 2011 so his experience in education and curriculum matters is significant. To read the NIH press release on Lorsch’s appointment, go to http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2013/od-25.htm.

2013 Federal Budget

In March, Congress passed and the President signed a bill funding the US government through September 30, 2013. The budget was subject to the across-the-board funding cuts of roughly five percent due to the sequestration law passed over a year earlier. The final funding for research and development at science agencies significant to Society members is in the chart below.

BPS Members Advocate for Research on Capitol Hill

On March 12 and 13, Biophysical Society members Jenna Campbell, University of Michigan, and Rajini Rao, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, joined more than 200 scientists, engineers, and business leaders making visits on Capitol Hill as part of the 17th Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD). This annual event is sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group (SET), of which the Biophysical Society is a participant. The purpose of the visits was to educate Congress about the important role federal research funding plays in innovation and competiveness; encourage them to avoid sequestration and cuts to research programs; and express support for sustained and predictable federal funding for research. The participants also had the opportunity to learn about the federal budget for science agencies, the appropriations process, and how sequestration will work from a panel of speakers that included representatives from the White House, Capitol Hill, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Campbell and Rao, along with BPS staff member Ellen Weiss, met with staff in the offices of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Carl Levin (DMI), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (RGA), and Congressman John Sarbannes (D-MD). Weiss, Rao, and Campbell meet with Congressman John Dingell.

During the event, the SET working group honored Congressmen Mike Honda (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) with the George E. Brown, Jr. Leadership Award for leadership in science, technology, and mathematics on Capitol Hill. Both are active supporters of STEM education. Brinkman Announces Departure from DOE William Brinkman, head of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, resigned his post on April 12. While he left for personal reasons, in both a memo to Department employees and a hearing on Capitol Hill, Brinkman expressed concern about the toll federal budget cuts are having on US research and development as other countries are increasing their investments in this area. Brinkman had led the Office of Science since 2009. Earlier in his career, he was a senior research physicist at Princeton University and vice president of research at Bell Laboratories. President Obama has not yet announced his replacement, who must be confirmed by the US Senate.

May 2013 Table of Contents