Everything You Need to Know about BPS Travel Awards

A month and a half remains before the abstract submission and travel award application deadlines for the Biophysical Society’s 62nd Annual Meeting, being held in San Francisco, California, February 17-21, 2018. If you are a student, postdoc, early or mid-career scientist looking for a little extra funding to attend the Annual Meeting, be sure to apply for a BPS Travel Award. Check out the FAQ below to learn more about the application process.

Q: What is the Travel Award application deadline?
A: The application deadline is October 4, 2017. Remember: You MUST submit an abstract by October 2 in order to be eligible for a Travel Award.

Q: Do I need to register for the meeting and submit my abstract prior to submitting the travel award application?
A: If you are applying for a travel award, you must be the presenting author on an abstract submitted by the October 2 abstract deadline (if applying for a mid-career CPOW or Bridging award, you may be presenting or senior author). You do not need to register prior to submitting a travel award application. However, you will need to register for the meeting in order to attend.

Q: Can I submit any part of my application late?
A: No. ALL parts of your application are due by the October 4 deadline – including your letters of recommendation! Start asking your advisers for references now, and be sure to read each award’s description so you know exactly what is required.

Q: I think I’m qualified for multiple Travel Awards. Can I apply for more than one?
A: Yes, you can apply for multiple travel awards, as many as you are eligible for. However, you can only be selected to WIN one award.

Q: I am a co-author on an abstract, but not a presenting author. Can I apply for a Travel Award?
A: For all Education, CID, and International awards, you MUST be a presenting author on the abstract. If you are not a presenting author, your abstract will be marked as ineligible. This also applies to CPOW awards for postdocs. For mid-career CPOW awards and Bridging funds, you must be either presenting or senior author on a submitted abstract.

Q: My adviser would rather send the letter of recommendation directly to you. Where exactly should he/she send it?
A: Letters of recommendation can be emailed to travelawards@biophysics.org.

Q: I am not a US citizen or permanent resident, but I am still a scientist from a group underrepresented in biophysics researching in the US. Why can’t I apply for the CID Travel Award?
A: Because the CID Travel Awards are funded by an NIH grant, only US citizens or permanent US residents are eligible. Please be sure to check out the Education and CPOW awards and Bridging Funds requirements to see if you qualify.

Q: I’m originally from outside the US, but I now live/research/study in the US. Am I eligible for an International Travel Award?
A: No, you are not eligible. You must be living and conducting research OUTSIDE of the US in order to qualify for an International Travel Award. If you live/work/study in the US, no matter your origins, you are not eligible for this award.

Q: I am currently a graduate student. However, by the time of the Annual Meeting I will be a postdoc. What award should I apply for?
A: You should apply for the awards that fit your career level as of October 4, 2017. In your case, you must apply as a graduate student.

Q: I am no longer a student or a postdoc. Am I eligible for a Travel Award?
A: CID, CPOW, and the International Relations Committee all offer travel awards for junior, senior, and/or mid-career scientists. Please check eligibility requirements online to see if you qualify for any of these awards. Additionally, Bridging Funds are available for independent or principal investigators who would normally attend the meeting but cannot due to lack of funding.

Q: If I do not receive a travel award to the Annual Meeting, may I receive a refund for my abstract submission and registration?
A: No, abstract submission fees are non-refundable. If you wish to retract your registration, you will be refunded the registration fee, less the $50 cancellation fee, if your request has been received by the January 15 deadline and you did not pay the combo fee.

 

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2017 BPS Bridging Funds Travel Grant

In an effort to assist members in the current difficult funding situation, the Membership Committee is accepting applications for the Bridging Funds Travel Grant for the second year.

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BPS understands that while some resources are limited, networking and staying up-to-date with current research is important to our members. This grant is designed to provide support to regular members who would normally attend the Annual Meeting, but cannot due to a temporary lack of funding. We encourage independent and principal investigators to apply for this travel grant to help alleviate some meeting costs.

Applicants must be 2017 members by the October 3, 2016 abstract deadline, presenting or senior author on an abstract submitted for the Annual Meeting, and must be actively seeking funding.

For more information about Bridging Funds and the other travel awards, visit the Travel Awards page.

First Golden Goose Award of 2016 Goes to NIH-funded Social Science Researchers

Ce0-qDSWQAIRhtTRESEARCHERS BEHIND LANDMARK ADOLESCENT HEALTH STUDY – A STUDY
THAT ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN – WILL RECEIVE GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD,

Five researchers whose determined pursuit of knowledge about the factors that influence
adolescent health led to one of the most influential longitudinal studies of human health—with far-reaching and often unanticipated impacts on society—will receive the first 2016 Golden Goose Award.

The researchers are Dr. Peter Bearman, Barbara Entwisle, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ronald
Rindfuss, and Richard Udry, who worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(UNC) in the late 1980s and early 1990s to design and execute the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, or Add Health for short.

The social scientists’ landmark, federally funded study has not only illuminated the impact of social and environmental factors on adolescent health—often in unanticipated ways—but also continues to help shape the national conversation around human health. Their work has provided unanticipated insights into how adolescent health affects well being long into adulthood and has laid essential groundwork for research into the nation’s obesity epidemic over the past two decades.

“Four bold researchers wanted to learn more about adolescent health. Who knew that one federal study would change the way doctors approach everything from AIDS to obesity?” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who first proposed the Golden Goose Award. “Decades later, this work is still paying off, helping Americans lead longer, healthier lives. America always comes out ahead when we invest in scientific research.”

The pathbreaking nationally representative Add Health study has answered many questions about adolescent behavior, with particular attention to sexual and other risky behaviors, but it was almost stopped in its tracks by political concerns.The study’s design grew out of the American Teenage Study, a project developed by Drs.Bearman, Entwisle, Rindfuss, and Udry. This initial adolescent sexual health study was designed to look at adolescents’ risky behaviors in a social context, rather than focusing only on individuals, in hopes of helping the nation address the growing AIDS epidemic and other public
health concerns. After two years of planning work funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Teenage Study passed peer review and was funded by the NIH in 1991. But the grant was subsequently rescinded due to objections regarding the study’s focus on sexual behaviors.

In 1993, Congress passed legislation forbidding the NIH from funding the American Teenage Study in the future, but at the same time mandating a longitudinal study on adolescent health that would consider all behaviors related to their health – implicitly including sexual behavior.

“I congratulate Dr. Rindfuss and his colleagues on this award, which underscores the vital
importance of federal funding for research,” said Rep. David Price (D-NC), who was a key
advocate in the House of Representatives in the 1990’s for continuing to pursue this research. “Federally supported research projects not only produce new life-saving treatments and expand our understanding of the world around us, they also spur economic growth and innovation in ways we cannot always anticipate.”

In 1994, Drs. Udry and Bearman, now joined at UNC by Dr. Harris, proposed Add Health to
meet Congress’s new mandate. The new study maintained the American Teenage Study design’s strong focus on social context, but significantly expanded the scope of inquiry to include all factors influencing adolescent health. The study has followed its original cohort for over 20 years, and it is now providing valuable information about the unanticipated impacts of adolescent health on overall well-being in adulthood. For this reason, the researchers recently changed the study’s name to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and it is a landmark example of how longitudinal research can yield extraordinary and unexpected insights.

“Science often advances our understanding of the world in ways we could never have foreseen,” Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) said. “Regardless of how this research began, it has served as a breakthrough for understanding the way society molds our personal health. That’s why congressional funding and support for breakthrough research is so important to push us forward as a country.”

The nationally representative sample and multifaceted longitudinal data paired with a
revolutionary open-access model have enabled more than 10,000 researchers to publish almost 3,000 research articles on human health. These scientific studies have strengthened an understanding of the importance of family connectedness to adolescent health, allowed researchers to track and scrutinize the rising tide of the obesity epidemic, and demonstrated the social, behavioral, and biological importance of adolescence to lifelong health and wellbeing.

What began as a study driven both by social science curiosity and public-health concerns has been central to shaping the national conversation around adolescent health for more than two decades.

The Golden Goose Award honors scientists whose federally funded work may have seemed odd or obscure when it was first conducted but has resulted in significant benefits to society. Drs. Bearman, Entwisle, Harris, Rindfuss and Udry are being cited for their extraordinary multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of the social and biological factors that influence adolescent health, and their work’s wide-ranging and often unexpected impacts on society. The five researchers will be honored with two other teams of researchers – yet to be named – at the fifth annual Golden Goose Award Ceremony at the Library of Congress on September 22.

About the Golden Goose Award
The Golden Goose Award is the brainchild of Rep. Jim Cooper, who first had the idea for the award when the late Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) was issuing the Golden Fleece Award to target wasteful federal spending and often targeted peer-reviewed science because it sounded odd. Rep. Cooper believed such an award was needed to counter the false impression that odd sounding research was not useful. In 2012, a coalition of business, university, and scientific organizations created the Golden Goose Award. Like the bipartisan group of Members of Congress who support the Golden Goose Award, the founding organizations believe that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to our economic growth, health, global competitiveness, and national security. Award recipients are selected by a panel of respected scientists and university research leaders.

The Biophysical Society has been a sponsor of the award for the past three years.

Science Fares Well in FY 2016

On December 18, Congress passed a $1.5 billion omnibus spending bill that funds the government through September 1, 2016. The bill increases funding for science at several federal agencies, which was made possible by the budget deal in late October that provided relief to sequestration for the discretionary parts of the federal budget (this includes all research programs).

With the budget settled, agencies can now move forward conducting business and making grant awards with the knowledge of how much money they have for the year. The chart below shows information for several programs and agencies of interest to the biophysics community.

Federal Funding for Science Agencies (in millions)

Agency

FY 2015 Enacted Level

FY 2016 Enacted Level

Difference between FY 15 and FY 16 Percent change between FY 15 and FY 16

National Institutes of Health

$30,073 $32,100  

$2,000

 

6.6%

National Science Foundation

$7,344 $7,460 $120 1.6%

Department of Energy Office of Science

$5,067 $5,350 $279

5.6%

NASA Science

$5,245

$5,589 $344

6.6%

NIST Science and Tech Laboratories

$676

$690 $755

2.1%

Department of Defense Basic Research $2,278 $2,309 $31.5

1.4%

Veteran’s Affairs Medical and Prosthetic Research $588.9 $631 $42.1

7.1%

And, here are a few notes:

  • The $2 billion increase for NIH is the largest increase for the agency since 2003. This is a huge win for the biomedical community! Within that amount $200 million is designated for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI); $936 million for Alzheimer’s disease research (which is a $350 million increase); $150 million for the BRAIN Initiative (an increase of $85 million); and $100 million to National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for antimicrobial resistance research.
  • Within the NSF budget, “Research and Related Activities”receives a $100 million increase over FY 2015; this is the account that from which funding for research grants comes.  The “Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction” line decreased $45 million from FY 2015.
  • The language that appeared in a House appropriations bill for NSF earlier in the year and that would have decimated the Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBE) and the Geosciences Directorates was removed.  Instead, included language states that SBE should be funded at no more than the FY 2015 level. The House Science Commitee and NSF have been in an elongated battle over how NSF selects grants.  NSF must continue to certify that all awards are in “the national interest.”

With 2016 wrapped up, its time to start the process for funding the government for 2017. The Administration  have been working on their proposals since the summer. The process should be made a bit easier by the budget deal that was struck in October; it created a top line number for both 2016 and 2017.  The President will  lay out his vision for his last year in office during the State of the Union on January 12.  He typically sends his budget request to Congress the first week of February.

What’s Going on With the Federal Budget?

budget3It’s Thanksgiving Week and Congress is in recess.  Perhaps the last you heard about the federal budget for FY 2016 was that there was a bipartisan deal at the end of October.  Sounded like a good outcome.  That is true, but that deal didn’t actually provide funding for the coming year; it just increased the amount of money that could be spent.  Congress has until December 11 to figure out how it is going to divide up those additional dollars and pass a bill to fund the government for the coming year.  So why haven’t you heard much?

After the October budget deal, Congress began working behind closed doors on how to appropriate the additional dollars. The appropriations chairmen let their subcommittees know how much money they had to divide up among the programs for which they were responsible. These numbers were not made public. The subcommittees were supposed to send their proposals back to the Congressional leadership by November 20.  It is rumored that the conversations have not only focused on dollar amounts for each programs, but also on what policy riders will be included in the final bill.  Policy riders are directives that require certain actions or disallow certain actions by federal agencies.  The Democrats prefer a spending bill without riders; Republicans are pushing to include riders that reflect their priorities.  An example of a potential policy rider that affects scientists would be one that would require the National Science Foundation to certify that all funded grants represent research that is the national interest by making the U.S. more secure or improving the economy.   (This rider was in a spending bill approved by the House earlier this year, and could end up part of the ominbus bill currently being worked on.)

The rumors are that Congress will release an omnibus bill funding all federal agencies and programs on December 1, at which time we will be able to see how the agencies we care about have fared.  It is expected that the next ten days will be spent working out the riders and final numbers.

What has BPS been up to?

While the Hill has not been forthcoming with information during the past month, the Society has remained active in advocating for science funding in the final bill.  When the budget deal was reached, the Society sent a thank you letter to the White House and Congressional Leaders.  The Society has also sent communications to the Hill as a member of several coalitions in which it participates.  Many of these groups are also working on FY 2017 funding; a letter as sent by a coalition of coalitions, in support of raising science funding 5.2% across the board in 2017.

What can you do?

BPS has also been encouraging members to get involved.  A call for members to write to their Senators and Representative to thank them for the budget deal and advocate for science in FY 2016 went out to all U.S. members in early November. Thus far, 54 advocates have sent 166 letters.  If you haven’t written yet you can do so here.

Enjoy the quiet of Thanksgiving Week and stay tuned for more budget news in early December!

 

My Experience at the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day

rally photo VA1

BPS public affairs committee member Seth Weinberg, far left, with other biomedical research advocates and U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA), far right.

On September 17, I joined members of over 300 national organizations to participate in the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day. Many rally participants were fellow scientists from all across the country, attending to urge Congress to provide robust, sustainable, and predictable funding for NIH in 2016 and beyond. However, most rally participants were patients and loved ones, attending to advocate and show support for biomedical research, as those directly affected by disease and those anticipating with hope new biomedical breakthroughs.

Rally participants were organized into groups based on their home state. My group from Virginia met with four House offices and the two Virginia Senate offices.  At these office meetings, I described my experience as an early career scientist, having seen my peers leave biomedical research or the country for more reliable career opportunities, a direct result of decade-low NIH funding levels. I conveyed that basic science research is critical for advances in patient treatment, but that the clinical implementation of basic science research may take decades, making the need for sustainable and predictability funding that much more crucial. In my group, my fellow rally participants expressed their own personal, and often heartbreaking, stories of how disease had directly touched their lives, and each voiced how imperative supporting NIH and biomedical research is to themselves and those similarly affected.

The House and Senate offices that we met with all agreed that NIH funding is important and optimistically stated that NIH support seems to be one issue that Congress members on both sides of the aisle can agree upon.

Seth H. Weinberg,Research Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University

It’s Time to Raise the Caps on Capitol Hill

Capitol_hillThey say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but some in Congress haven’t gotten the message. On October 1st, if Congress doesn’t take action, the disastrous budget cuts to our nation’s most critical programs—including research funding, national labs, and education– will go back into effect, causing pain to millions of Americans across the country.

How did we get here? In 2011, Congress passed a law that cut federal spending by nearly $1 trillion and said that if lawmakers couldn’t agree on a plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion, another $1 trillion in automatic, arbitrary and across the board budget cuts would start to take effect in 2013. Though the “Murray-Ryan” deal temporarily stopped these cuts from taking place, that deal expires in fiscal year 2016. That’s why the Biophysical Society is joining more than 2,500 other national, state and local organizations are calling on Congress to avoid the impending fiscal disaster and end sequestration. These organizations have come together to say, Raise the Spending Caps. Enough is enough.

The impending cuts will be bad, really bad. If Congress does not work together to stop sequestration, the resulting budget could:

  • Result in further cuts for the National Institutes of Health, which under sequestration would be reduced to 2002 spending levels–a major disinvestment in exactly the areas where investment is needed to support growth.
  • Sequestration relief would also cause the gross domestic product to grow by as much as 0.6 percent in 2016 and as much as 0.4 percent in 2017. Easing those ceilings would lead to increased government spending, which in turn would lead to an increase in economic output and higher employment, according to CBO.
  • Shortchange Veterans’ Administration medical care by $690 million, meaning 70,000 fewer veterans receiving medical care, fewer staff critical to improving quality of care, and delays in medical research;

Experts across the political spectrum agree these programs aren’t a driving factor behind our nation’s mid- and long-term fiscal challenges. In fact, reversing sequestration could actually create as many as 1.4 million jobs over the next two years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports.

So Congress can act to end a failed policy now and prevent another fiscal crisis, or deal with finding a cure for its aftermath. There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation. Let’s choose prevention over cure and Raise the Spending Caps.

ON THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 10, every Congressman and Senator will receive a “Raise the Caps” baseball cap along with a letter signed by over 2500 organizations asking them to fix the budget once and for all.  The Biophysical Society is proud to be a sponsor of this effort.