August 19, 2016
As President of the society I would like to thank you for your continued or new support. The CSMB serves a large constituency of scientists at the graduate student, postdoc and faculty level. As you will see from the President’s Report in this year’s Bulletin, the CSMB continues to do many activities, and here I want to highlight our initiatives in Meetings and Advocacy.
To become more relevant to our members, we will strive to offer you affordable national and international conferences that will be of interest to larger numbers of our members. Not only will our CSMB conferences continue to be outstanding scientific meetings but we will be offering various trainee career workshops.
For Canada’s Centennial year we will be hosting our 60th annual conference in Ottawa from 16-20 May 2017 called “Celebrating Canadian Molecular Biosciences: from Organelle to Systems Biology”. For the first time in its history, the 2017 Annual CSMB Conference will concurrently highlight two important biomedical themes, Systems Biology and Organelle Dynamics, to help foster inter-disciplinary science and innovation. Thus, the 2017 CSMB Conference will feature talks from national and international leaders in a broad range of topics including but not limited to membrane biology, trafficking, signalling, gene and regulatory networks, and computational biology. The CSMB 2017 will also cover health-related topics such cancer biology, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.
Not only will this meeting strive to offer a diverse range of speakers, but we are planning many events to show-case Canada’s outstanding researchers (that means YOU!) to politicians and the public. Come join the party in Ottawa in 2017!
As you are aware, 2015 was a remarkable year for the CSMB in which we continued to focus on advocating for increased funding for fundamental research. This included member letter-writing campaigns, on-line petitions, and outreach to parliamentarians and the media. Due to the unprecedented efforts of many societies, individual scientists and the public, science became a part of the discussion during Election 2015. The first budget of Liberal Government has strongly indicated that Science and Innovation is a priority for Canada. Not only were there significant increases to the Tri-Council and CFI budgets, but on June 13, 2016 the Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan launched the Fundamental Science Review.
Through a variety of approaches the CSMB is continuing to ensure that the concerns of our members are heard in Ottawa. We continue to advocate for budget increases for NSERC and CIHR to be directed to non-targeted open operating grant competitions, and for continued investment in research infrastructure. Although funding is critical, it will not help fundamental research if the mechanisms by which it is awarded is flawed. Therefore we continue to engage with the Tri-councils to not only identify issues, but to provide solutions that will result in a rigorous peer-review process for all federal funding. Our recent petition for quality face-to-face peer review for Federal research funding led to myself and Past-President Christian Baron attending the CIHR working meeting on 13 July 2016 to find workable solutions to improve the peer review system. The CSMB is also preparing our official recommendations for the Fundamental Science Review, and we have scheduled meeting to present this to Dr. Duncan. We all need to work together to achieve our goals of building a sustainable and responsive funding environment that is essential for Canada to truly become an innovative society.
I hope that this letter illustrates the dynamic efforts of the CSMB working for and with you. To help us continue our work in your interest we would greatly appreciate it if you renewed your membership, and even more so, if each of you motivated one or two of your fellow colleagues to join the CSMB. We have a unique window of opportunity to improve the research environment in Canada, and this requires strengthening our political voice in Ottawa by raising our membership numbers.
President of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences
Director of the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
University of Ottawa