David Altman, SIVB President

The Society for In Vitro Biology has a rich and varied history, and many current and former members can recall seminal events in their careers from professional interactions as a result of participation in activities of SIVB, whether at the scientific meetings, through publications from Society journals and other formats, and during various functions of committees, branch sections, sections, and informal gatherings. While the past is fascinating for reflective moments, the future for our profession, and SIVB, offers unlimited opportunities to build expanded visions. In an opinion many of us share, the life sciences are critical to humanity’s survival and progress as never before, and non-profit professional societies are essential to fulfill critical functions with the science.

SIVB is unique in a number of aspects, such as drawing on common interests in cellular and molecular biology across a broad array of individual disciplines. We are committed to encouraging students and young professionals, and are the only major professional society that has offered free registration for our Annual Meeting to students, and for these attendees, one year’s free membership with an internet subscription to one of the Society’s journals. This two-year program, which was an initiative from the prior Long Range Planning Committee, has meant that we now have over 25% of meeting attendees who are either students or post docs. The 2005 Annual Meeting in Baltimore might limit this initiative to the first 500 students who apply, so if you, or anyone you know who might benefit from this opportunity, has an interest, then the earlier the registration the better.

Now, let’s look at a part of our future. As President, my role is basically one of coordination of the membership’s innovations and ideas. To facilitate the new Board’s shared vision, SIVB will immediately have significant changes that include:

  1. Our commitment is to open and democratic dialog to reach consensus, or at least a substantial majority approval, for all decisions. Effective immediately, all approved minutes of the Board will be posted on the web page for review by anyone. Agenda items for Board meetings will be solicited from the entire membership, although you can still send items through your elected Board representatives or through a section Chair. Section Chairs will be invited participants to all Board meetings for the next two years. Anyone wanting to communicate directly to the President can simply send an email to President@sivb.org.
  2. SIVB wants to maintain high quality with our annual meetings, but we are now focused on operations that are innovative, will fit within our means, and could provide flexibility in venue and format. The basics for 2005 in Baltimore and 2006 in Minneapolis are already in place, but an ad hoc committee, chaired by Indra Vasil, will evaluate novel structures to recommend for 2007. These could include proposals from universities to host the meeting, site selection that facilitates truly joint meetings with other international organizations such as in Hawaii for convenience with Asian professional societies, and other concepts. If you have an idea, or want to bring forth a proposal from your city, institution, or company, then please contact Dr. Vasil, the business office, Board members, or your section Chair.
  3. The Board guarantees that SIVB welcomes volunteers and participation by the membership. To make good on this claim, you are assured that if you volunteer to help the SIVB, specifically offering to serve on a committee, to help with a meeting, to assist with fundraising, or to volunteer without a particular choice or for some other idea, then you will have instant acceptance. Everyone might not get their first choice, but you will be offered an appointed position. This is a call for volunteers, and we urge you to please commit your time and energy!
  4. SIVB does not just provide services such as an Annual Meeting and scientific publications. We can represent a larger voice for issues that matter to our membership. In the past, SIVB has taken stands on public policy. We are now fully committed to consider such action on a continuing basis and to broadcast such policy positions to the fullest means possible.
  5. SIVB will strive to be a diligent custodian of our shared resources, including funds generated by operations, donations, and membership fees. Effective July 1, SIVB no longer has employees or a permanent Business Office. Business Office services will be maintained through a consulting contract. Our previous Managing Director, Marietta Wheaton Ellis, will still manage these services through a contract with her consulting company that is initially for one year until June 30, 2005. Any interested consultants, for making a proposal for the period July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006, should contact the Treasurer, Dr. Richard Heller, or another Board member to obtain the bid information. Proposals are due prior to the fall 2004 Board meeting, and a decision will be made by January 1, 2005.

Last, I have a request. My challenge to you is to bring at least one new member to the SIVB by the beginning of next year. In particular, SIVB especially would like to see some of the former members return to share what we’ve been able to create as well as first timers. Thanks for your commitment to the Society, and the Board and I look forward to hearing from you!

David Altman, SIVB President