President's Perspective: April 2017
Our work as scientists is very occasionally celebrated by the wider community. Recently, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim was awarded the Australia Day Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his work on neural stems cells. In addition, Professor Colin Masters was awarded an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his work on Alzheimer’s disease, and Professor Richard Faull was made a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand for services to brain research.
“The love for and dedication to my work seems to me to be the basis for happiness. As a research worker, the unforgotten moments of my life are those rare ones which come after years of plodding work, when the veil over nature’s secret seems suddenly to lift and when what was dark and chaotic appears in a clear and beautiful light and pattern.” Professor Gerty Cori, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1947, for understanding glycogen and energy metabolism. Source: http://beckerexhibits. wustl.edu/mowihspwords/CoriEssay.html
ANS Council is very pleased to announce that the new annual meeting plenary lecture to be named after a female neuroscientist will be named after Professor Elspeth McLachlan, FAA. Professor McLachlan made seminal discoveries in the autonomic nervous system (see https:// www.science.org.au/fellowship/fellows/professorelspeth-mary-mclachlan), was the first woman president of ANS (1996-1997), and held a number of senior management roles both at The University of Queensland and The University of New South Wales. In addition, Professor McLachlan’s contributions to Australasian science endure in her mentorship of a number of highly successful neuroscientists. The inaugural Elspeth McLachlan Plenary lecture will be held at the annual ANS meeting in Brisbane in 2018. Nominations for the speaker (male or female) will be made through the usual plenary speaker nomination process.
At the ANS AGM meeting in Hobart, ANS Council and members raised the possibility of having the AW Campbell and Nina Kondelos medal winners give talks in the meeting in the year following their award. ANS Council has now agreed that these significant awards should include a lecture by the awardee. Both medal winners from 2016, Dr Stephen Abbott (AW Campbell winner) and Professor Naomi Wray (Nina Kondelos winner) will be invited to give talks at the annual ANS meeting in Sydney in 2017.
The local organising committee (LOC) for the annual meeting in Sydney has been working extremely hard. The final program for the meeting will be available shortly. A significant issue the LOC and the ANS Executive have had to deal with are the significant cost increases arising from holding the meeting in Sydney. The LOC has managed to retain the registration cost at the same rate as the 2016 meeting in Hobart, partly by making the lunch costs optional, but also through other cost-saving measures, while retaining all the features of what will be a truly excellent meeting with an outstanding scientific program.
ANS Executive met recently for a full-day workshop to discuss strategies for maintaining the upward trajectory of the Society that will allow it to remain financially stable while providing the best possible support for our members as the peak body for neuroscience in Australia and New Zealand. This is a work in progress and the full ANS Council will meet in July to discuss developing a five-year strategic plan for the Society. Full consultation of this process with all ANS members will occur once Council has developed a draft plan. A major goal of the strategic plan will be to continue to provide an outstanding annual meeting and to develop a range of year-round benefits for the membership of the Society that will provide significant value.
Some of the ANS member benefits are detailed further in this issue of the newsletter with the new committees beginning their work to promote areas of interest to our members. In addition, the ANS Executive has negotiated some reciprocal benefits with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) for travel awards and conference attendance at local membership rates. These will be advertised in the ANS newsletter and on our website as they become available. In this issue, we are promoting ANS-FENS travel scholarships to attend Cajal courses in Europe for PhD students and early career researchers who are ANS members.
Your membership of the Society is crucial and ANS cannot exist without it. ANS provides your collective voice for science advocacy and the funding of neuroscience and represents your interests across a range of national and international science organisations. With so many areas of science competing for limited resources, it is imperative that the Society has a strong voice and this can only come from demonstrating our influence through membership numbers. We are grateful that many people have already renewed their membership for 2017, with the option of both 1 and 3 year memberships. The three-year membership option provides a saving of the consumer price index increase over three years.
If you have not renewed your membership, please do so by logging into: https://www.ans.org.auhttps://tas.currinda.com/register/organisation/172. Don’t delay, renew today!
Professor Linda Richards
President's Perspective: January 2017
As scientists facing major funding challenges, it is easy for us to lose sight of the sheer joy and intellectual comfort we are afforded in our profession to pursue questions of importance. 2016 certainly presented some great uncertainty in the world of international politics with significant surprises including Britain voting to leave the EU and the spectacle of the US election.
More than at any other time in history, science is now globally connected in a way that was impossible before the world wide web. Neuroscience is rising to the forefront of global science with major initiatives to understand the brain under way that are funded by Governments around the world (see Neuron 92, issue 3, 2016).
In early 2016 the Australian Academy of Science began to develop the Australian Brain Alliance (ABA), with the society and ANS member scientists as leading contributors. In the past year the ABA has grown to include scientists from most universities, institutes and departments where neuroscience research is being performed throughout Australia. The goal is to develop a major funding strategy to present to the Federal and State Governments to boost funding for neuroscience in Australia. Although still in its early stages, the ABA plans to release a series of discussion papers in the coming months where ANS member feedback will be sought. All ANS members are encouraged to participate in this process so that a plan is developed that will be transformative for Australian neuroscience. The ABA effectively constitutes a Government lobbying arm of ANS, without investing in our own lobbyist.
Our recent scientific meeting in Hobart demonstrated the incredible depth and quality of neuroscience research in Australia. Outstanding international scientists also travelled to Australia to participate in our meeting. (Please see the meeting report in this issue). I would like to thank the members of the local organising committee and the Chairs, Associate Professor Tracey Dickson and Dr Kaylene Young, for their tireless efforts in preparing and running such a successful meeting. In addition to the exciting science presented, a highlight was the conference dinner held at MONA in Hobart. The event was memorable for the gallery exhibitions, the light show put on by the beautiful night sky, and the warm collegial atmosphere of the evening. Our thanks again to all those involved in organising the meeting, symposia and social events.
At the ANS annual general meeting in December 2016, a number of new initiatives were approved which I would like to further outline here. In brief, these include the establishment of three new national committees, new additional members on ANS Council and new plenary lectures at our annual meeting.
It has been suggested that a plenary lecture at ANS should be given by the winner of the Nina Kondelos award and ANS Council will consider this suggestion. The Nina Kondelos Prize was made possible by a donation to the Society by Professor George Paxinos, and it is named after his late sister.
These initiatives are to enable ANS to provide more for our members. In addition, we have been negotiating with the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) to provide member rates to attend their annual meeting for ANS members. We are also negotiating a reciprocal agreement with FENS for student/ECR travel awards to attend FENS or neuroscience courses within Europe for ANS members and similarly for FENS members to attend ANS or courses in Australia.
In closing, I wish you all a very productive year of scientific discoveries and advances in 2017.
Professor Linda Richards