History and Mandate

The Canadian Biochemical Society (CBS) was first conceived by a group of biochemists attending the Canadian Physiological Society meeting held at the University of Ottawa on October 9th, 1957. The purpose of this new society was to foster the science of biochemistry. Our first President was Professor A.M. Wynne, head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto and our first meeting was held at Queen’s University the following summer under the auspices of the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies (CFBS), which was formed in 1958 with the CBS as a founding member.

Management of the Canadian Biochemical Society is vested in a Council which consists of a President, Vice-President, Past-President, Treasurer, Secretary and six Councillors. Since the inception of our Society, forty eminent Biochemists have held the Presidency. Membership to the Council is by election in an annual ballot by Society members. Council members serve a three year term; the holder of the office of Vice-President passes annually in turn to President and then Past-President. The Society is governed by a constitution and a set of by-laws and is mandated to be bicultural.

In 1992 the Society changed its name to the Canadian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in order to better reflect the scientific interests of its membership. In 1995 the Canadian Society of Cellular and Molecular Biology elected to surrender its charter and merged with the Canadian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to form the Canadian Society of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology (CSBMCB). In 2010 the Genetics Society of Canada also decided to end its activities and merged with CSBMCB. As a result of a broadened mandate and membership a search for a new name was initiated, with input from all members. In 2011 the name that was chosen was the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences.

The Society was incorporated in 1979 so that we could host the XIth International Congress of Biochemistry in Toronto, organized under the Chairmanship of Dr. George Connell. As a result of the financial success of this meeting, the Canadian Biochemical Society received an infusion of over $100,000. These moneys have been shrewdly invested by a succession of Society Treasurers and the Society now has a reserve of more than $400,000. Interest derived from these moneys is used to sponsor scientific meetings in Canada and further the interests of Canadian scientists working in the fields of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Genetics.

Professional activities of the Society include an annual meeting, sponsorship of symposia and student activities, advocacy efforts to increase research funding, and the administration of a number of awards. Summer meetings were formerly held in June with CFBS. Society members voted to withdraw from the CFBS at the end of 2000. Starting in 2001, the Society has held its own annual meeting.

The Ayerst Award was first instituted by the Society in 1966 and is presented annually to a young Canadian Biochemist in recognition of his or her outstanding scientific achievements. In 1991 the sponsorship of this award changed and it became the CBS-Pharmacia Award. In 1993 Merck Frosst Canada underwrote this prize and it is now the CSBMCB-Merck Frosst Award. In 2010, GE Healthcare committed to a long term sponsorship agreement for the renamed CSMB-GE Healthcare Award The second award, the Roche Diagnostics Award (formerly the Boehringer-Mannheim Award), instituted in 1981, is given every second year in recognition of outstanding achievements in research in the field of biochemistry and/or molecular biology. Since 2010, this award has been called the CSMB Senior Scientist Award. Alternating with the Senior Scientist Award, the third award given by the Society is the Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lectureship. This award is given to a female Canadian scientist who has distinguished herself in the field of biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology in one or more of the following areas; research, teaching or community service. Lastly, a special award was begun in 2008 to honour a distinguished scientist who has provided outstanding leadership in Canadian science. This award was named the Arthur Wynne award and is presented in alternate years.

In addition to these prizes the Society has instituted awards for its trainee members. Trainee travel awards for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are donated by various corporate sponsors such as New England Biolabs, Thermo Fisher and others, to help defray the cost of attending the CSMB annual meeting. In addition, the CSMB sponsors a poster competition at the annual meeting, with cash prizes for the best poster presentations by graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. These awards are partially supported by sponsors and are presented to the winners during the CSMB annual meeting banquet.

The Genetics Society of Canada was formed in 1956 at its inaugural annual meeting, which was a principal activity of the Society until its merger with the Canadian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology in 2011. In 1959 the Society founded and published the Canadian Journal of Genetics and Cytology, publication of which was later assumed by the National Research Council Press in 1983, with the name of the journal being changed to Genome in 1987 with the approval of the Society. The journal has been successful, and although it is a comprehensive journal, it is most noted in the area of plant molecular genetics. In 1969, the Society began publication of a quarterly Bulletin comprising of news, opinion pieces and the abstracts of the annual meetings.

In 1976 the society established the Award of Excellence (later renamed the Grant and Moens Award of Excellence in Genetics) to recognize major contributions to genetics. In 1987 the Society established the Young Scientist Award (later renamed the Robert H. Haynes Young Scientist Award) to recognize major contributions to genetics during the 15-year period following the completion of a first degree. In 1958 and in 1988 the Society co-sponsored highly successful International Congresses of Genetics. The Society was a supporter of the Biological Council of Canada and later the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies. At the 2010 Annual Meeting, the Society voted to merge with the Canadian Society of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology, which was shortly afterwards renamed the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences.

Date Updated: December 07, 2012