I am encouraged that the enthusiasm of the attendees at the Savannah meeting has translated into action. I have been impressed with the effort of our committees to address the Society’s continued growth and to promote benefits that would encourage our young scientists to join, maintain their membership, and participate in the Society.
While it is still early in the planning process for the 2015 meeting in Tucson, the program is rapidly developing. It’s not too early for you to plan on submitting an abstract and attending this exciting meeting. I encourage you to not only attend, but to spread the word about the exciting venue and first-rate scientific program. The advantages of attending the Society’s meetings include the opportunities to network with peers, build professional relationships with scientific colleagues, and above all, learn of the advancements in the field from leading experts.
With the advent of broad-scale use of in vitro systems in molecular biology, toxicology and pharmacology, the collection of mass data bases for evaluation with bioinformatics tools is rapidly becoming the rule rather than the exception. It has become increasingly apparent that the necessary attention and training in good cell culture practices and attention to detail in the generation and collection of experimental data are in many cases sadly lacking. Published data from such studies leads to confusion in understanding the basis of biological responses and in many cases can result in the waste of both time and money and potential careers. The old adage, garbage-in garbage-out, certainly applies and the resulting flood of data from studies done without regard for quality of the cultures and careful attention to good experimental practices leads to a conundrum. How do we identify the quality data needed to understand basic and applied biology; i.e., separate the good data from the bad? The concept of describing the biological importance of “mixed data” becomes untenable due to the conflicting data. It is difficult enough when all the data are collected properly and unlikely or impossible when the data are obtained using poor cell culture and experimental practices. Our society is uniquely positioned to help address this important issue. We have the expertise to facilitate training in both basic and advanced in vitro biology as well as good experimental technique.
I was fortunate in that my mentor was trained in an excellent human cell culture laboratory and insisted that I pay attention to detail. If it appeared that I was not, its importance was reinforced, if you know what I mean. I strongly believe that the basic principles of good cell culture practices must become a critical component for in vitro laboratories.
Over the past two years, we have held methods courses that offered the basics of good cell culture practices. These courses will continue and expand to provide more specific training in experimental design and data collection. I call upon each of you to participate in sharing your knowledge with colleagues, many of which have received little or no training in good cell culture practices. As scientists, we each have the responsibility to share our knowledge of good in vitro biology practices to ensure a sound future for our young scientists.
Our young scientists look to the Society to help guide their professional development and ensure their long term success. I urge each of you to consider participating in the Member-Get-a-Member Campaign and to contribute to the Student Travel Award, and one or more of our endowments. Your support will help to ensure that the quality programs and activities continue to be available for both our current members and future members.