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This is my first JBT column as the new president of the ABRF, and I have to say that I am both excited and honored to be able to serve the ABRF in this role. I have been a member and active participant of the ABRF for 14 years, and am increasingly impressed by the enthusiasm, diversity, pragmatism, scientific excellence, and multiple grass roots efforts that have made the ABRF the successful organization that it is. I enter the role of president after having had 3 years of experience on the executive board (EB). During these years, the EB has devoted much attention and resources to strengthening many facets of the ABRF, including empowering our research groups, maintaining a strong financial base while investing back into the organization, moving JBT to an entirely electronic format, and bringing first-rate scientific and technical studies to our annual meetings. These activities are examples of the types of improvements that the ABRF executive boards, both past and present, having been working toward since the ABRF was founded. On behalf of the ABRF, I would like to especially thank the outgoing EB members, Dr. Jay W. Fox (ABRF President for the past 3 years) and Dr. Kathryn S. Lilley, for their excellent leadership, dedication, and service to the ABRF. Replacing Jay and Kathryn on the EB are the newly elected EB members Dr. Arnie Falick (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr. Tony Yeung (Fox Chase Cancer Center). The ABRF is very fortunate to have Arnie and Tony serving in this leadership role and you can expect the ABRF to continue to be a great organization for years to come.
Those of you who attended ABRF 2008 in Salt Lake City (“Enabling Technologies in the Life Sciences”) know what an outstanding meeting it was! The success of ABRF 2008 was possible due to the vision and diligence of organizers Dr. Ted W. Thannhauser, Dr. Jeff Kowalak, and Dr. Jocelyn Rose, as well as the contributions from many other session organizers and speakers. The meeting provided a very effective balance of science and technology in both the nucleic acid and protein arenas. The ABRF Research Groups also played a prominent role in the scientific program as well as providing ideas for future directions of ABRF. The ABRF Award for 2008 was presented at the annual meeting to DR. RUEDI ABERSOLD (ETH-Zurich and University of Zurich) for his outstanding contributions to the field of proteomics.
Looking to the future, planning is already underway for ABRF 2009, “Application and Optimization of Existing and Emerging Biotechnologies,” to be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis, TN, February 7–10. Dr. George Grills (Cornell University) is the lead organizer for ABRF 2009. An initial organizing committee comprised of George, Dr. Chris Turck (Max Planck Institute), Dr. Margaret Robertson (Ernest Gallo Research Center, UCSF), and Dr. Ted Thannhauser (ad hoc, USDA-ARS) is actively planning the agenda and gathering ideas from ABRF research groups and members. The committee is also planning to expand and add a few more members.
In closing, let me encourage each and every one of you to increase your personal involvement with the ABRF. There are many opportunities to serve on the Research Groups as well as the Committees. You can view listings of these volunteer groups and committees at http://www.abrf.org/. Opportunities to get involved can be found on the ABRF electronic discussion group, posted on the ABRF home page, or by contacting any one of the EB members directly. I can assure you that participation in the ABRF is one of the most rewarding career and social activities you can experience! The ABRF is fundamentally a grass roots organization run by volunteers, and your input matters.