What has the COVID pandemic taught us about science?

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to new limits on our acceptance of science and nature. I believe (and I hope) that we will look back on this pandemic as a major turning point in modern medicine. As we emerge from the dust of political scandals and public health incompetence we will find that this failure to respect the vastness of science and the undiscovered frontiers of medicine will only propel us into a new age of medicine.

A brilliant article published in the Wall Street Journal on October 9th discussed the lessons we have learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fair warning, you need to register an account to read the article but it is worth it! The truth being, we always learn from mistakes and we are always learning from science. We have to remember that as scientists it is our job to grow from our failures and to discover not only what is right, but also what is wrong. Failures are not a negative consequence of our work, they are simply unscheduled learning experiences.

FREE PISA REGISTRATION!

PISA 2020 is going virtual and registration/abstract submission is now open until October 21! Submit your abstract today! Find information at the PISA 2020 website! https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at sougiann@musc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Bench-to-Bedside: How Basic and Clinical Scientists can work to improve drug safety and efficacy

Here is your daily, non-COVID, non-US election, non-massive world ending disaster post for the day. It’s nice to get something like this these days.

If you look at the common pathway of drug development, you will notice something like this: Pre-clinical -> Phase I -> Phase II -> Phase II -> Phase IV. Without going into too many details the phases are described as so: Pre-clinical is experimental development with testing in laboratory animals. Phase I is a small batch of human volunteers (typically healthy or within a small target population). Phase II is a larger batch to improve therapeutic safety and determine dosing ranges. Phase III is larger target populations to further determine safety and efficacy. Phase IV involves post-market surveillance after the drug is approved from success in Phase III.

Interestingly, this “classical” paradigm of drug development leaves out the ever important need to bring a drug to Phase 0 trials. Phase 0 occurs between the pre-clinical phase and the initiation of Phase I clinical trials. Phase 0 clinical trials can occur at a single institution and typically recruit 10-15 volunteers to receive micro-doses of the new drug in order to confirm the drug’s safety, bioavailability, and half-life. Interestingly enough, this Phase 0 portion of the drug development timeline is typically skipped for direct entrance into Phase I trials. Why is this? I believe the basic science field can aid in this transition by being actively involved in Phase 0 clinical trials prior to sending a drug off to Phase I.

Bringing basic scientists into the clinic might sound like a dangerous mix between egos, but in-fact might help to improve the synergy between the clinical and experimental worlds. Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer are three companies that adapted the the Phase 0 trial into their regular practice since its first designation in 2006. It is here that we can see basic scientists benefiting the bench-to-bedside effort and enter the clinic and ensure the proper translation of a drug from the experimental to clinical.

ASIP VIRTUAL HANGOUT FOR TRAINEE MEMBERS

Stay tuned for information about another ASIP Trainee Virtual Hangout! Be on the lookout for more information later this month!

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

PISA 2020 is going virtual and registration/abstract submission is now open! Find information at the PISA 2020 website! https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at sougiann@musc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

#ASIP2021 is going Virtual!

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Experimental Biology has been forced to cancel our in-person meeting in Indianapolis, IN, May 1-4, 2021. However, we will offer Experimental Biology Virtual, which means that you, and your colleagues, will have many new and exciting opportunities for scientific discovery without travel.

Experimental Biology Virtual will bring you the latest research in anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. The actual dates will be announced soon.

Virtual Conferences: How will conferencing change after COVID?

Many of us were getting ready for spring conference season when COVID hit. Now, however, we need to look to the future of conferencing and consider what will change when it comes to conferencing post COVID.

Will anything Change?

My answer to this… absolutely not. I think people will be so anxious to get outside they will sprint to the nearest opportunity to leave the lab. Conferencing is the most essential opportunity for trainees to showcase their research and meet with potential advisers. The scientific community will continue to conference regularly after COVID and I do not think much will change in the end. However, we have to consider that our travel internationally might be hindered for the next 2-5 years. So how do we respond to this?

Virtual Reality Conferences?

With virtual reality starting to take flight we have to entertain the option of hosting virtual conferences. Imagine waking up from home, eating your Wheaties, and then putting on your VR glasses to transport yourself to EB2022? Its not very different from what we are currently doing in this period of virtual meetings. Sitting in on a talk would be easy, but what about poster sessions? It is hard to hop posters via zoom, but a virtual conference hall could solve this problem. All of this technology exists and we have the ability to generate this kind of platform.

A recent article in Nature discussed how conference platforms have been adapting since COVID. This article does an excellent job discussing how the lack of intimacy that comes with this kind of platform can remove the purpose of conferences. I agree. Physical face-to-face contact goes so much further than anything technology can offer. A VR conference would completely remove that intimate interaction and make interactions awkward. Can you imagine walking up to an animated version of me and listen to me talk about colorectal cancer in mice…?

VR conferences are a great way to keep us rolling as a scientific community as we crawl out of this crisis. However, we cannot ignore the most essential feature that makes us human, and that is the ability to intimately interact with one another. Lets do what we can for now but not compromise our values when it comes to returning back to normal. We cannot get too comfortable conferencing from home that we forget why we do this in the beginning.

Have you attended any virtual conferences since COVID? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu to get involved!

ASIP VIRTUAL HANGOUT FOR TRAINEE MEMBERS

The ASIP is hosting another free virtual hangout for trainee and junior members June 11th at 4P.M. EST. The goal of this virtual hangout is to bring scientists together to share their stories about life during COVID and the obstacles they have had to overcome. We are hosting another because our first session was a great success. If you are interested please register by clicking the link below: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lcumpqjosGt0flIahGyElyHNgi3Ucmcmt

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

PISA 2020 is still being planned! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. Get news and updates at https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Pathogenesis

Executive Officer’s Blog

June 1, 2020

Who We Are

We find ourselves in desperate times with unique and overwhelming challenges not unlike the trials and tribulations encountered by past generations of people down through history. We see crises in every direction that we look and it is difficult to know how to respond effectively. History fails to provide guidelines for how to manage through events affecting our civilization that are unprecedented. Beginning in 2019 and throughout 2020, the world has been experiencing a global pandemic that has seen >105,000 deaths in the United States and >370,000 deaths world-wide due to COVID-19. There is no end in plain sight for the pandemic, and science continues to be under attack by those who refuse to accept the reality of the crisis at hand. In the United States and world-wide, the pandemic has amplified economic and social inequities adding to the challenges of everyday survival. People are struggling and many lack a sufficient economic and social safety net. Most recently in the United States, we have seen multiple new violent manifestations of the persistent social injustice encountered by minority populations for decades. We are shocked by what we see and we fail to identify with the perpetrators of the violence or the demonstrators whose protest became violent and destructive in cities across our country. We cannot believe that these kinds of things continue to take place. These are things that matter. In times like these and in response to events like these, it is natural to ask the question: “who are we?”

The answer to this question is important for us as individuals, as citizens of towns, cities, and states, as members of various racial/ethnic groups, as residents of the United States or other countries. This question can be applied to our departments, centers, and institutions, as well as to our profession as a whole. The answer to this question is critical as it defines our community and reflects to a large extent our values and what we stand for. It’s a question that is worth pondering from time to time, and we should not be satisfied with a superficial assessment or snap judgement. The answer is not an end unto itself. The answer can and should help us improve ourselves as individuals and our community as a collective. 

The American Society for Investigative Pathology is above all else a community. Whereas the Society was founded over 100 years ago with a membership that was predominately male and Caucasian, we are now a community that is diverse in every sense of the word. We are inclusive and welcoming. We are men and women. We are young and old. We are working and retired. We work in academia, biotech, industry, non-profits, and government. We are a community of scientists, physicians, physician-scientists, and veterinarians. We were trained in various scientific disciplines and have varied professional experiences. We are a community of basic scientists, clinical investigators, and translational researchers. We work on all aspects of biomedical science, and utilize many different scientific approaches in our research. We live in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. We are citizens of many nations. We represent many races, ethnic groups, cultures, and religions. We come from families with varied socioeconomic and educational status. We are not all of the same sexual orientation or identity. We represent different political viewpoints. We are individuals.

While the American Society for Investigative Pathology is diverse, we have strong shared interests. We share in the pursuit of scientific truths, the generation of new knowledge, and an expanded and sophisticated understanding of human diseases. We share the desire to improve the human condition and to rid the world of unnecessary suffering from disease. We share a curiosity for scientific exploration. We value character and reward accomplishment. We share the objective to educate and train the next generation of scientists as we provide a model for them to follow of honest and ethical research practices. We strive for excellence in our work. We are students and teachers. We are mentors and mentees. We embrace diverse research teams. We seek to provide opportunities for those people in search of new training, new positions, and new challenges. We provide support for our peers, our trainees, and our collaborators. We share our knowledge and expertise broadly. We serve the greater good. We are a village.

The American Society for Investigative Pathology offers its members the opportunity to be a part of the kind of community that we want to see in our towns, cities, states, countries, and around the world. The ASIP represents a community where equality is a prime objective and goal, where opportunities are extended to all, where individuals selflessly support others, where the word “peer” in applied broadly, and where labels are used to identify rather than to distinguish. The ASIP community is not yet perfect…it is a living and breathing work in progress that requires intentional thoughts and actions on the part of the members, elected leadership, and staff. Continued progress towards a culture of equality and opportunity will require all of our best efforts. We look forward to working with each of you as we continue on this journey. In the end, we hope and pray that the best qualities of our Society and its members will be reflected in our world-wide society at-large and its citizens.

So, what are we to do now to effect change in our professional society, our institutions, our communities, and the world at-large? Too often we conclude that we cannot individually contribute in a significant manner to problems as large as systemic racism and discrimination against members of specific groups. This mentality paralyzes us into inaction. The problem appears too enormous for the efforts of a single person or a small group of people. However, every positive action that we make chips away at the larger problem, no matter if that problem is in our professional society, our institutions, our communities, or the world at-large. We must endeavor to combat systemic racism and discrimination by providing opportunities to all people, irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of origin, or other individual characteristics. Through individual actions that are within our power we will effect change at a local level and contribute to culture shifts within our institutions and communities. As Mother Teresa said – “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” We might not be able to provide opportunities to a hundred people, but we can offer opportunities to a few, and that will contribute to the larger solution. Change begins with us.

Post COVID-19 world: Is STEM academia in trouble?

Class of 2020, how does it feel? No giant ceremony, no group photos, and worst of all no family. Thousands of students from high school through professional degree programs graduated the Class of 2020 this past weekend. This year is definitely unique, but the Spring 2020 semester is likely going to set the stage for a major change in the dynamic of education for the foreseeable future.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the ease and applicability of virtual education. Suddenly instructors were able to sit from the comfort of their home or office and perform the same job they had been doing all along. So, what does this mean for post-pandemic academia? A recent article published on insidehighered.com brought to light the potential of asynchronous (Canvas, Blackboard-type) and synchronous (Zoom-type) platforms that are being brought together to eliminate the need for face-to-face learning.

But is this what we need? We are already falling behind the curve in most subjects as an American nation. At the medical school level, we already face this reality, with most medical students skipping class to spend extra time studying and just reviewing the lecture online at their leisure.

I think we can take this opportunity to create a large paradigm shift in education that has been long overdue.

Is a virtual world a bad one for scientists?

I am all for bringing more technology and virtual instruction into the classroom and I think it would be a great use of resources. However, we cannot use this as an excuse to get lazy with our teaching methods. Now I am not going to comment on some liberal arts fields, but a world without labs or actual hands-on instruction could put us into a worse position. If we are going to go to a virtual instruction paradigm, we need to compensate with more hands-on education and application of materials.

I remember not understanding anything from organic chemistry lecture and then stepping into lab that week and having everything click in my mind. I always tell my students that they can know the whole process of an experiment (i.e. western blotting) and it won’t mean anything unless they go through the pain-staking process of failing and learning the process with their hands. My point being, we cannot condemn students to a virtual ‘education’ when real work is done in the lab after years of learning and perfecting your techniques.

How can science benefit from a paradigm change?

I have had this conversation many times, but I remember one distinct debate at a recent conference where we discussed the potential for obtaining doctoral level degrees outside of academia. Imagine getting a degree through a company like Pfizer or Eli Lilly? Take your courses virtually while learning your basic biotechnology techniques and then jump into your ‘internship’ where you learn from experts in the field and you are part of a research team. The link between the private sector and academia could benefit from this kind of scenario, bringing big $$$ to academia while standardizing the training of scientists.

What is certain is that we are going to see major changes in academia as a result of this crisis. We are already seeing some funding cuts and unfavorable changes to our lifestyles as scientists. We need to come out of this crisis stronger and advocating for more responsibility in our education system, not an excuse to push learning to a lazier platform.

What do you think? Are you starting to see changes you like? or don’t like? What would you like to see happen in academia as result of the COVID-19 shutdown? Share in the comments below!

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu to get involved!

ASIP Virtual Hangout for Trainee Members

The ASIP is hosting a free virtual hangout for trainee and junior members. The goal of this virtual hangout is to bring together scientists to share their stories about life during COVID and the obstacles they have had to overcome. The first session is currently being organized and will be announced once we have a firm date. If you are interested in registering, please send an email to wbcoleman@asip.org.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

PISA 2020 is still happening! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

A Message from The ASIP Executive Officer

A Message from the ASIP Executive Officer

ASIP is here for you! The ASIP Executive Officer, Dr. William B. Coleman tells the status of our office, journals, membership and more during the #coronaviru…

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Scientist – The most valuable skillset in the COVID-19 pandemic

A Difficult Time For Scientists

By now the majority of academic STEM researchers have shut down their labs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a 5th year PhD student, this was definitely not the challenge I was expecting to be my last hurdle in earning my PhD. I have seen many stories that have shown the difficult reality that is being a researcher outside of infectious diseases these days. Young PhD students talking about how entire animal colonies had to be euthanized or months-long experiments being cut short and almost completely losing outcome measurements.

In response to this, I have seen an amazing effort by scientists trying to make the most of their dire situation. An article published in the New York Times highlighted several stories from around the world about how scientists are adapting to these tough times. The most notable (and relatable) story was about a 4th year PhD student at Vanderbilt University who had to “relocate” a dedicated analysis computer to her apartment to continue her stringent tissue analysis.

What can we do to help?

It certainly is a difficult time for scientists, but in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic we are the most valuable worker available to the world. A recent article by Forbes listed 10 ways that scientists can help during this crisis. I will let you read the article in its entirety between episodes of Tiger King, but I wanted to highlight a few points that I hope catch your attention.

#5 Volunteer your skills. This to me is the most important one of them all. The Forbes article highlights initiatives such as Crowdfight COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Pandemic Shareable Scientist Response Database. However, I think we can be doing more as scientists. For someone like me, in the prime of my pipetting career, we can go to our local DHEC office and volunteer as scientists to help transcribe data and run COVID-19 diagnostic tests. In fact, our current postdoc and I are currently in the process of setting up volunteer time to help run tests at the local DHEC office here in Columbia, SC. If you have the time and the skillset, please consider volunteering. Testing is the way we get more people into quarantine and get people to treatment faster. #VolunteerCOVID19Scientist

#10 Share your science virtually. I love this idea. With every school in the country shut down, virtual education has been called into action to maintain a standard of education during this lockdown. I have recently signed up for the platform Skype A Scientist. This program pairs me with virtual classrooms from around the world where I can share my research with young students.

Above all it is important to stay safe. Let’s set an example for the rest of the world and work together to make it through this crisis.

Have a story about how you are continuing your research during the lockdown? Or are you doing something to help as a scientist during this crisis? Please share below!

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Living and Working in the Era of COVID-19

William B. Coleman, PhD
Executive Officer

A little over two weeks ago, on Friday, March 6th, the Meeting Planners and Executive Officers of the cooperating Societies (AAA, APS, ASBMB, ASPET, and ASIP) reluctantly announced the cancellation of the Experimental Biology 2020 meeting that was scheduled for early April in San Diego, CA. The meeting was cancelled due to concerns over the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. At that time, there were few cases in San Diego, but developments from across the nation and globe dictated our decision. We knew that our members from other countries would have difficulty attending the meeting, and daily changes in international travel alerts and bans made it clear that many/most of our international members would be prohibited from traveling to the United States. Furthermore, travel bans imposed by hospitals and medical centers, academic institutions, research organizations, and industry, for physicians (in some cases) and all faculty/staff/students (in other cases) made it clear that the ASIP Annual Meeting would be significantly impacted. When we learned that some of our invited speakers local to San Diego were not being permitted to attend (to avoid large crowds), we knew that we had no choice other than to cancel the meeting. Our hope is that cancelling the meeting a month prior to its scheduled start would give our members time to cancel their travel arrangements and hotel accommodations without penalty. As you have been notified, registration fees will be refunded and abstracts will be published as planned.

Since March 6th (which feels like it was years ago), California declared a state of emergency (as have many other states), the President declared a national emergency, and a number of major cities and states are largely or completely shut down. During the same period of time, the number of cases of COVID-19 infection increased to over 43,925 cases nation-wide* (with >545 deaths recorded). With the rapidly changing landscape of the pandemic and the ultimate mandates against large and small gatherings, our meeting was destined to be cancelled. Given that the health and safety of our members is our major concern, cancellation of the Annual Meeting was and continues to be the right decision. We sincerely hope that all of our members – in the United States and abroad – will adhere to social distancing, respect the suggestions to isolate as much as possible, avoid exposure to COVID-19, and remain healthy. In particular we send well wishes to our members who work as physicians who risk exposure in the clinical setting and/or who are working overtime in hospital laboratories to provide critical molecular testing for patients. Thanks for doing this important work in your cities and communities. We also send well wishes to our members across the globe and hope that everyone is able to remain healthy, particularly our members in the hardest hit areas of United States, Europe, and Asia.

The New Normal
So, we find ourselves in an unprecedented time – as individuals and as a Society. Our collective hope is that this new normal is very temporary and does not repeat itself in the future. The Governor of Maryland has mandated that all non-essential businesses close, and so the ASIP office in Rockville is officially closed. However, ASIP staff members are working remotely and all Society operations are functioning at full capacity. We are dealing with the aftermath of the cancellation of the San Diego meeting, while moving forward with plans for our upcoming meeting in Boston which will be held in November of this year, as well as plans for next year’s Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2021 in Indianapolis, IN. We are available to assist members with any issues they may have, and the journal staff is working hard on the next issues of The American Journal of Pathology and The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. We hope that our members will be able to maintain momentum in their own research programs during this time when laboratories are being forced to close temporarily. We certainly welcome manuscript submissions during this period of time when progress for individual investigators and their labs might be confined to writing up results that are already in hand. Rest assured our peer review network is working hard and reviews will be completed in a timely fashion.

Financial Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic
A frequently asked question following the cancellation of the Annual Meeting is “…what are the financial consequences of not holding the meeting?” At this point, we don’t know because we are working through cancellation of all the contracts and filing claims with our insurance broker. In an ideal world, our meeting insurance policy will make us whole. Time will certainly tell. It should be clear to everyone that the COVID-19 pandemic will be associated with great financial costs for all organizations, and the ASIP is no exception. The financial consequences of the pandemic will far exceed losses from the Annual Meeting. This is due to the recent significant downturn in the stock market which impacts our long-term investments/reserves. It will take many months to know if our short-term losses will become long-term losses in this regard. That said, we do not anticipate that COVID-19 pandemic-related financial losses will impact on the ability of the ASIP to continue operating “normally” (or as close to normal as possible under the current circumstances).

Beyond the Financial Costs of COVID-19
The greater cost of the COVID-19 pandemic-associated cancellation of our Annual Meeting for individual ASIP members and the Society as a whole is the loss of opportunity for the member-to-member interactions that occur in the unique atmosphere of the ASIP Annual Meeting. As we all know, at the Annual Meeting our members (senior leaders of the field of experimental pathology, mid-career scientists, newer investigators, and trainees) easily and naturally connect/engage to discuss research and to network. Hence, the Annual Meeting represents a few days of the year that we all value and anticipate. Like the members of our Society, the ASIP staff looks forward to interacting with our members during the meeting each year, to conduct face-to-face business with the ASIP Council, and to engage with members of our working committees. Whereas the staff meets through conference calls and video conferences with the Council and many of our Committees on a regular basis, face-to-face interactions during the Annual Meeting cannot be easily replaced by virtual meetings. With cancellation of the meeting, we also lost opportunities for our members to showcase their science through oral and poster presentations, to recognize trainee travel awardees and trainee meritorious awards (such as the Experimental Pathologist-in-Training award), and to highlight the research of our members receiving major meritorious awards (including the ASIP Rous-Whipple Award, the ASIP Outstanding Investigator Award, and others). For the ASIP, the Annual Meeting is not valued because it represents a source of revenue. Rather, the value of the Annual Meeting, first and foremost, is as a venue to facilitate critical member-to-member interactions in a setting conducive to fostering discussion, engagement, and networking. Hence, we look forward to our next opportunities to interact in a face-to-face manner.

On behalf of the ASIP membership, I would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Program Committee and representatives of various Scientific Interest Groups for assembling an exceptional scientific program for the Experimental Biology 2020 meeting. Likewise, I want to offer thanks to the members of the Committee for Career Development and Diversity (CCDD) and the Education Committee for enhancing the scientific program at EB2020 with career development and educational sessions that are focused on our trainees and young investigators. The members of these three committees worked for well over a year planning the ASIP program for San Diego. We are currently discussing which of these sessions we might carry forward into the Experimental Biology 2021 meeting in Indianapolis, IN. We anticipate that much of the 2020 program will be carried over with minimal modification. In addition, we are looking at the possibility of adding some additional (newly developed) programming to the 2021 schedule. Stay tuned.

In light of all this bad news, there is some good news for ASIP members. In November, we will gather at the Royal Sonesta in Boston for the 2020 PISA meeting. Wheras PISA is a smaller meeting that the Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology, this year’s PISA provides an opportunity for our to regain some of what was lost with the cancellation of EB2020. Therefore, we will declare that PISA2020 is this year’s ASIP Annual Meeting (to fulfill the obligation to hold a scientific meeting each year as dictated by the ASIP Bylaws). The scientific program for PISA2020 was set prior to the cancellation of the San Diego meeting. Hence, we will not be able to move scientific content from EB2020 into PISA2020. However, we will be adding four meritorious award lectures, a number of award presentations, the inaugural Women in Pathology networking/social event, and some necessary face-to-face business to the PISA2020 schedule. We are hopeful that many/most of our 2020 trainee travel awardees will be able to attend the PISA2020 meeting using their awards. The PISA2020 venue at the Royal Sonesta is ideal for a small meeting, but does have limited capacity. So, please stay tuned to announcements related to PISA2020 and be sure to register early to ensure your seat at the meeting.

Moving Forward
We are currently working to ensure that the ASIP membership continues to be well informed of Society activities and news. Please pay attention to your emails and our social media posts in this regard. Several important news items have been released in recent days, including the results of the 2020 Election and announcement of the 2021 Meritorious Awards. In the coming weeks, we anticipate release of a virtual presentation of the ASIP Gold-Headed Cane award to representatives of the University of California at San Diego on behalf of Dr. Marilyn Farquhar. We will also release the slides that were intended for the Business Meeting in San Diego to inform the membership of the major activities of the Society during the past year. As indicated above, the ASIP staff and committees continue to work hard to ensure that future face-to-face meetings will be valuable and successful. Please be sure to contact us if you have questions or concerns or need assistance of some kind. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. We look forward to seeing everyone once the pandemic ends.

*I started composing this blog on Friday, March 20, and the first draft included a figure of about 16,000 as the reported number of cases in the United States. As I continued to work on this blog over the weekend, I have literally had to change this number by the hour as the number of infections appeared to increase exponentially. The final number reflected here was taken from CNN on Tuesday morning, March 24, 2020.

Data Management of the Future: Electronic Lab Notebooks.

Are you prepping your virtual classrooms this week? What about lab meetings? Virtual meetings such as Zoom allow for communicating across the globe, but what about data sharing? In the era of big data generation and management it is getting harder to simply share an Excel file with a simple data set. Large high quality TIFF images, large data sets, complicated analyses, all contribute to potentially poor data management for labs and make it difficult to share data files by conventional methods. Enter Electronic Lab Notebooks or ELNs.

Electronic Notebooks have been around for a few years but have recently enetered the spotlight as preferred alternatives to paper experimental recordings. I remember during my master’s in 2013-2015 I used a paper notebook, it was manageable with only a few projects going on at that point. But in the big leagues of PhD life, electronic notebooks have saved my life. I use the electronic notebook SciNote. I chose this notebook because it was easy to use and was the only notebook I found that had Microsoft Office integrated into its interface. After 4 years I must stay that using an electronic notebook has greatly improved my organization of the multiple collaborations I am on and has allowed me to easily share, store, and access all my #hotdata from anywhere in the world.

I must say that I have pushed the use of electronic notebooks on many labs since starting with my own. For small labs of 3-5 researchers to large labs of 20/30+ it really can make your life so much easier. Uploading of raw data makes sure that nothing can be lost in the event of electronic disaster. I take this a little further and backup my data to an external hard drive, my electronic notebook, and my personal laptop……I like data.

In reality there are many electronic notebooks out there. Recently, the LabsExplorer published an article discussing the benefits of electronic notebooks and reviewed the top electronic notebooks on the market. I will say that there are a plethora of electronic notebooks out there but if you understand what your priorities are then it can be easy to select what is best for you. Many electronic notebooks also function as a lab management tool and can be used to sort inventory and keep track of purchases.

The electronic notebook era has received a lot of press and has even been featured in a 2018 Nature article. If you are thinking to start using electronic lab notebooks I highly recommend it. It is not an easy transition but once you make that committment it will make your life so much easier. I have a tablet that I use in the lab and everything is at the touch of my finger and there is no doubt that my data is always organized and safely stored. If you’re not sure about which notebook to use, give them a trial. Most notebooks are free for small groups (3 users) and therefore you can trial using these notebooks before purchasing one for your lab.

Do you already use an electronic notebook in your lab? Please share which one you use and what you like the most about it!

ASIP 2020 ANNUAL MEETING AT EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY IN SAN DIEGO APRIL 4-7 CANCELLED!

If you have not already heard the news, Experimental Biology 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you need more information or want to discuss further options about your science presentations please feel free to contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu. For official statements from the ASIP please visit https://www.asip.org/.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

PISA 2020 is still happening! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Should Financial Literacy Be Part of Graduate School Curriculums?

How are grants coming so far this year? Most scientists hate this question. Funding in the biosciences has always been a tooth and nail battle for most academic researchers. However, are we exacerbating this problem by the way we are teaching in graduate school? Very few graduate programs actually teach their students proper financial literacy during graduate school. What does this lead to? Poor spending and poor decision making when it comes to purchasing decisions.

How many times have we seen this situation?

What can we be doing better to help avoid situations like this? I think it is time for graduate programs, especially PhD programs, to start making financial literacy training mandatory. Most of us took that one accounting course in college that was super easy compared to calculus, but outside of that, our financial literacy was taught to us the hard way while surviving on the 2.5$/hour salary we had in graduate school.

Specifically, it would be easy for most graduate programs to design and implement a course that focuses on budgeting for grants and purchasing decisions. Further, teaching advanced methods in Microsoft Excel can help young PIs balance and keep track of their spending while not compromising time analyzing data or working on grants. The way I see it is that education about proper spending and proper financial responsibility is key to running an established lab, whether in academia or private industry.

Is there a financial literacy program for scientists at your institution? Do you have a unique way that you teach trainees in your lab about finance? Share in the comments below!

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu to get involved!

ASIP 2020 ANNUAL MEETING AT EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY IN SAN DIEGO APRIL 4-7.

Are you going to Experimental Biology 2020? If its your first time or if you are returning member, do not be afraid to reach out for help or advice! You can find all the information you need at http://asip20.asip.org/ or feel free to email me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Do not forget to attend the ASIP Education Committee Events at ASIP 2020 at Experimental Biology in San Diego! All the events can be found on our program at http://asip20.asip.org/program/preliminary-program/.

PISA 2020 is happening! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Step 1 Medical Boards now Pass/Fail. Good or bad?

By now everyone has heard the bombshell that was dropped by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) on February 12 about transitioning the Step 1 exam from a 3-digit numerical score to a pass/fail outcome starting in 2022. For those of you who do not know, this is the exam that is typically taken by second year medical students to complete the scientific training portion of their medical education. It contains mostly what is referred to as the three-Ps: Physiology, Pathology, and Pharmacology with a little microbiology and anatomy also sprinkled in there. Traditionally the score on this exam has been one of the strongest measures on what specialty a medical student can go into after completing their M.D. Now a big wrench has been thrown into that process, so what do we think? Good or Bad? I’ll try to be brief.

Most medical students cite this exam as the black hole of medical school and the worst period of their entire medical education. This stress level was actually one of the major reasons why the NBME went to the pass/fail option. Susan Skochelak, Chief Academic Officer for the AMA commented on this change saying that “Our student, resident, and physician members voted to endorse a pass/fail policy, in part because we know that our current residency selection system is causing significant distress for our students.”

I agree with this assessment, the extent of scientific knowledge that is demanded by medical students cannot simply be evaluated with a single 8-hour exam. But is making one exam pass/fail really the change in medical education that we need? Many schools already have a pass/fail curriculum and Step 1 was a chance for students to set themselves apart from the crowd. Now the focus shifts to the Step 2 exam which is given in two parts: CS – an in person clinical skills test and CK – a written exam given after year 3 which covers the clinical clerkships learned during the 3rd year of medical school. The CS has already been pass/fail and the CK will remain a scored exam.

In my opinion such a shift in policy now requires the shift in medical education that has been needed for years. Since there will be less focus on the score of the scientific knowledge, the medical education system needs to change their baseline curriculum to reflect the change that this brings. Most medical students do not go to class already because they are focusing on boards, what is a pass/fail option going to do to attendance now? I think this is the chance for medical schools to make the scientific knowledge part of the required reading prior to entering a classroom and make the classroom more interactive and hands-on. Make the first two-years of medical school more condensed and make the scientific knowledge part of the future case studies that will be relevant to their practice of medicine. Many schools already have this kind of process through a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum.

I think this is a step in the right direction (no pun intended). In this new age of modern medicine we need to think about ways to best train the scientists and physicians of the future. I am interested in seeing the data 20 years from now about how this has changed the way medical students learn and how medical schools adapt to this new policy. What is your opinion about this new policy change? Is this change good or bad for medical education?Share in the comments!

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu to get involved!

ASIP 2020 ANNUAL MEETING AT EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY IN SAN DIEGO APRIL 4-7.

Are you going to Experimental Biology 2020? If its your first time or if you are returning member, do not be afraid to reach out for help or advice! You can find all the information you need at http://asip20.asip.org/ or feel free to email me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Do not forget to attend the ASIP Education Committee Events at ASIP 2020 at Experimental Biology in San Diego! All the events can be found on our program at http://asip20.asip.org/program/preliminary-program/.

PISA 2020 is happening! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. https://pisa20.asip.org/

Interested in becoming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu  www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

Artificial Intelligence, we can do more!

With my first post to this blog I wanted to talk about an exciting new frontier in scientific reserach and clinical medicine. A recent article on darkdaily.com discussed setbacks of the clinical utility of artificial intelligence systems for oncologists and anatomic pathologists. Understandably so, medical professionals do not want to be replaced by computers. However, it seems that every day we get new toys to play with that involve machine learning. So, how can we utilize these tools to improve the quality of science without losing rigor and responsibility? In February of this year, Steven A. Wartman and C. Donald Combs published an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics describing the potential use of AI in medical education. They explain how AI can be used to improve knowledge management in the classroom which can further be translated to greater efficiency in the clinic.

I think we can be doing more! AI can have applications in all fields of science and medicine. We need to work to continue to improve this new tool and use it to better our scientific progress. At the University of South Carolina we have recently created an Artificial Intelligence Institute to boost AI applications in both the research and classroom settings. This is one of many steps we are taking to improve the impact of AI in STEM.

Do you have an exciting way you use AI in your science? Do you want to see AI used more in the classroom? Share your opinion on the use of AI in science and medicine!

Don’t forget the ASIP 2020 Annual Meeting in San Diego April 4-7, 2020 http://asip20.asip.org/

Intersted in becomming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

What to do when your paper is out for review

So… you worked hard on your paper. You ran the experiments and wrote up the results. You got the cover letter just right, and you made sure to polish the title, the abstract, and the figures . Finally, you submitted your work to a journal, and a few days later you received an email letting you know that the editors have sent your work out for peer review!

And now … you wait.

What to do when your paper is out for review

By Ben Tolkin

The 1-hour Workday

Finding time to write can be difficult. As a young scientist, one can be constantly bombarded with experiments, classes, meetings… The list goes on and on. It can seem as if writing gets pushed further and further back in the “To Do List”. Developing a strategy early in one’s career to stay on top of writing projects can be extremely important. One thought is to try “the 1-hour workday”:
The 1-hour Workday
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In Memoriam: Sherif Zaki, MD, PhD 1955-2021

Dr. Sherif Zaki, the Chief of the Infectious Disease Pathology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poses for a portrait at his office in Atlanta. CREDIT: Raymond McCrea Jones

ASIP Member Sherif Zaki, MD, PhD a founder and chief of the Infectious Disease Pathology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, passed away suddenly on Sunday, November 21at an Atlanta hospital. He was 65.

Dr. Zaki, helped diagnose previously unknown infectious diseases around the world, including influenza and other viral and bacterial illnesses. He was both a physician and a PhD scientist and sought to solve a host of medical mysteries. As the founder and chief of the CDC’s Infectious Disease Pathology Branch, he was at the forefront of efforts to identify numerous deadly diseases, including the hantavirus, West Nile virus, the Ebola and Zika viruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the current global pandemic of covid-19.

Through the use of immunohistochemistry, a method of staining microscopic cells to identify foreign pathogens that can cause illness, Dr. Zaki made advances in identifying little-known or mutating diseases. For the past 18 months, he and his staff were working overtime on SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes covid-19. In addition to his work at the CDC, Dr. Zaki taught at Emory, contributed chapters to medical books and was the author or co-author of more than 400 scientific papers. He traveled around the world, helping other pathologists learn his research methods.

Zaki attended Egypt’s Alexandria University, from which he received his medical degree in 1978 and a master’s degree in pathology. He did his medical residency in Egypt, then came to United States and eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He received a doctorate in experimental pathology in 1989 from Emory University in Atlanta.

He had a photographic memory and a knack for cracking hard cases and has been an ASIP member since 1990.

CDC Pathology Investigator Dies Unexpectedly at 65

Sherif Zaki, founder and chief of the Infectious Disease Pathology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, passed away suddenly on Sunday (November 21), according to an email sent to agency staff by National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Director Rima Khabbaz and shared with The Scientist.

Giving Tuesday is Tomorrow! Together We Give!

Giving Tuesday

This has been a difficult year for everyone—especially those who are experiencing isolation due to COVID-19. Many people are desperate for connection, and we try to share resources to encourage the ASIP spirit during these challenging times. The pandemic continues to take a toll on health care workers.


There is hope, and you can help.
We want to continue our efforts in discovering disease mechanisms with even more ways to support education in pathology. We would love to have you join us for #GivingTuesday. 
ASIP joined #GivingTuesday last year and raised funds for travel awards. This year our goal is to raise $10,000. Your donations will be matched by the ASIP!


How can you help?

As a supporter of the ASIP, we need your help. Please share our fundraiser with your network on #GivingTuesday. We welcome any donation amount. Mark your calendar and help us reach our $10,000 goal. 
How will the money raised be used?

This year, the ASIP is fundraising to provide support for undergraduate to work in a research laboratory during summer 2021 through the ASIP Summer Research Opportunity Program in Pathology (SROPP). This program promotes the entry of young scientists into the mainstream of the basic, translational, and clinical research communities and provides summer research opportunities in pathobiology mentored by ASIP members. Donations can also be designated towards the Pathology Leadership Fund, any of our named Trainee Scholar Awards, or any of our named Junior Faculty Scholar Awards.


Why Give?

Your Impact has helped many past award recipients. Will you consider donating this year to ASIP to help advance pathology education?
Every $ raised is helpful. Thank you for your support. Click the red button below to donate. We are grateful for you and your generosity. Together, we can make lasting change.

Women in Pathology Giving Tuesday Fundraiser on Facebook

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See posts, photos and more on Facebook.

About #GivingTuesday

Abstract Submission Deadline for #ASIP2022 at #ExpBio is TOMORROW!

Deadline

Time is Running out to Share your Science!

The platform will offer outstanding opportunities to explore the latest research. You’ll have access to plenary lectures, workshops, symposia, poster presentations, an exhibit hall and career services. You can also: 

·    build connections

·    attend sessions

·    review and discuss posters

Submit your abstract

by: Tuesday, November 30, 2021 11:59 PM PT

Junior faculty and trainee scholar awards deadline is Nov 30. 


Trainee Scholar Award Opportunities Available

Trainee Scholar Awards recognize excellence in research from ASIP Trainee members (Undergraduate Students, Pre- and Post-Doctoral Trainees). Awardees are selected based upon the scientific merit of their submitted abstract. Trainee abstracts will be programmed for presentation in a poster session and/or minisymposia.

 Apply Here

Your safety is our top priority. Vaccinations will be required.

Submit an abstract to an ASIP topic category today.


Experimental Biology 2022
Submit an Abstract
Register Now

Register soon for the best rates.
Not a Member? Save on registration when you join the ASIP!
 NOW is the time to join so you can receive discounted registration rates
AND the many benefits that come with membership.
Learn more

Abstract Deadline: November 30

Apply for Travel Awards TODAY!

#ASIP2022 at #ExpBio

#ASIP2022 at #ExpBio

  • Lectures
  • Symposia
  • Workshops
  • Special Sessions & More!

Register as an ASIP member by February 7 to get discounted registration.

Register and save today!

Advance registration deadline:

April 12, 2021

#MoreThanMembership | #YouBelongInASIP

Join our event on Facebook | Join our event on LinkedIn

Call for Speakers for the Young Investigator Keynote Seminar Series 2022

Call for Speakers for the Young Investigator Keynote Seminar Series 2022
Third Wednesday of Each Month

The ASIP Young Investigator Keynote Seminar Series is a virtual forum for trainee members of the ASIP to showcase their research through full-length seminars. This seminar series enables ASIP trainee members to get to know each other’s research, complimenting their social and networking interactions. This seminar series also enables regular members of the ASIP to participate in the professional development of our trainee members, and learn about the research of their colleagues in the field of experimental pathobiology. Faculty members please encourage your predoc and postdoctoral trainees to participate.

If you would like to be a presenter in the next series, please contact us.

Submit to an ASIP Abstract Topic category soon!

5 Tips to submit abstract

We are interested in your newest discoveries. Your research matters and we want to see you submit to an ASIP topic category. The abstract deadline is approaching, so submit today and build your national reputation while networking with cutting-edge scientists across the world.

The ASIP 2022 Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology features topics such as: 

  • 4000-ASIP   Bioinformatics and Digital/Computational Pathology
  • 4001-ASIP   COVID-19
  • 4002-ASIP   Cardiac Pathobiology
  • 4003-ASIP   Genetic Basis of Cardiac Disease and Development
  • 4004-ASIP   Cell Death, Tissue Injury, and Repair
  • 4005-ASIP   Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury
  • 4006-ASIP   Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology
  • 4007-ASIP   Extracellular Matrix in Pathobiology
  • 4008-ASIP   Extracellular Matrix – Inflammation and Immunopathology
  • 4009-ASIP   Extracellular Matrix and Cell Adhesion
  • 4010-ASIP   Extracellular Matrix, Integrins and Cell Signaling Pathways
  • 4011-ASIP   Gene Regulation in Development and Disease
  • 4012-ASIP   Epigenetic Gene Regulation in Development and Disease
  • 4013-ASIP   Immunohistochemistry, Microscopy, and Imaging
  • 4014-ASIP   Inflammation, Inflammatory Mediators, and Immunopathology
  • 4015-ASIP   Autoimmune Diseases
  • 4016-ASIP   Leukocyte-Endothelial Cell Interactions
  • 4017-ASIP   Liver Pathobiology
  • 4018-ASIP   Liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis
  • 4019-ASIP   Liver Growth and Regeneration
  • 4020-ASIP   Liver Injury and Inflammation
  • 4021-ASIP   Lung Pathobiology
  • 4022-ASIP   Lung – Obstructive Airway Diseases
  • 4023-ASIP   Metabolic Disorders and Metabolomics
  • 4024-ASIP   Diabetes
  • 4025-ASIP   Nutrition and Disease
  • 4026-ASIP   Obesity
  • 4027-ASIP   Molecular Diagnostics
  • 4028-ASIP   Mucosal, Inflammation, Epithelial-Leukocyte Interactions, and Epithelial Pathobiology
  • 4029-ASIP   Regulation of the Epithelial Barrier and Intercellular Junctions
  • 4030-ASIP   Breast Cancer
  • 4031-ASIP   Cancer Biomarkers
  • 4032-ASIP   Cancer Pathogenesis
  • 4033-ASIP   Drug Discovery for Cancer Treatment
  • 4034-ASIP   Cancer Microenvironment and Metastasis 
  • 4035-ASIP   Neuropathology
  • 4036-ASIP   Alzheimer’s Disease/Parkinson’s Disease
  • 4037-ASIP   Animal Models of Neuropathology
  • 4038-ASIP   Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • 4039-ASIP   Veterinary Pathology
  • 4040-ASIP   Pathobiology of Aging
  • 4041-ASIP   Host-Pathogen Mucosal Interactions
  • 4042-ASIP   Microbiota and Systemic Diseases
  • 4043-ASIP   Bacterial and Viral Pathogenesis
  • 4044 ASIP   Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells
  • 4045-ASIP   Vascular Biology and Pathology
  • 4046-ASIP   Atherosclerosis and Restenosis
  • 4047-ASIP   Veterinary and Comparative Pathology

Trainee Scholar Award Opportunities Available

Trainee Scholar Awards recognize excellence in research from ASIP Trainee members (Undergraduate Students, Pre- and Post-Doctoral Trainees). Awardees are selected based upon the scientific merit of their submitted abstract. Trainee abstracts will be programmed for presentation in a poster session and/or minisymposia.

 Apply Here

Your safety is our top priority. Vaccinations will be required.

Submit an abstract to an ASIP topic category today.


Experimental Biology 2022
Submit an Abstract
Register Now

Register soon for the best rates.
Not a Member? Save on registration when you join the ASIP!
 NOW is the time to join so you can receive discounted registration rates
AND the many benefits that come with membership.
Learn more

Abstract Deadline: November 30

Apply for Travel Awards TODAY!

#ASIP2022 at #ExpBio

#ASIP2022 at #ExpBio

  • Lectures
  • Symposia
  • Workshops
  • Special Sessions & More!

Register as an ASIP member by February 7 to get discounted registration.

Register and save today!

Advance registration deadline:

April 12, 2021

#MoreThanMembership | #YouBelongInASIP

Join our event on Facebook | Join our event on LinkedIn