Spring Council Roundup
During its annual spring meeting May 2-3 at SfN headquarters in Washington, DC, Council reviewed the Society’s financial position, engaged in discussions about advocacy activities and the member survey, and met with directors of more than 11 neuroscience-related institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Staff reported to Council on programmatic activities, priorities, and strategies being carried out across the organization. Key areas of focus included:
- The annual meeting,
- Continued innovation and excellent science in eNeuro and The Journal of Neuroscience,
- The growing array of professional development and training content on Neuronline,
- Future directions for BrainFacts.org,
- Fundraising for new initiatives and trainee professional development awards, and
- The continued emphasis on creating and enhancing member value.
Council received an update on SfN’s leadership role on issues related to advocacy and public outreach, which members view as some of the Society’s most important activities. On March 17, SfN held its 10th annual Hill Day, which provided members and volunteers the opportunity to discuss issues affecting the field with their representatives on the Capitol Hill. This year’s SfN volunteers met with 71 congressional offices to discuss the latest advances in neuroscience and to urge strong funding for scientific research and the BRAIN Initiative. SfN continues to express concerns to NIH and Congress about efforts to restrict the responsible use of animals in biomedical research, including a recent focus on non-human primates. Council reaffirmed support for resources and engagement around advocacy and coalition activities to increase federal research funding for basic science, as well as discussed SfN’s proactive strategy around an upcoming federal panel discussion of non-human primate research.
Council approved funding for a survey of its Institutional Program members (primarily neuroscience departments and programs). The survey is expected to launch in late 2016. Last conducted in FY2011, the survey targets administrators, with the resulting data expected to provide information necessary to inform their operations, recruitment efforts, and services offerings. The former survey’s structure and methodology will be re-evaluated and modified, and the survey will be conducted in five-year intervals instead of biennially.
Senior staff and Council also met with leaders from NIH neuroscience institutes to discuss emerging issues related to the BRAIN Initiative, scientific funding, peer review, training, the use of animals in research, the growing administrative burden on researchers, and other key items of importance for the field.
Council reviewed the Society’s fiscal outlook, which remains solid and well diversified in the face of continuing financial pressures faced by members and resulting modest “headwinds” on some SfN revenue sources. While ensuring a balanced budget and room for selective strategic program growth, the Society continues to prioritize efforts to insulate members when possible from revenue increases, and Council again elected to keep member dues increases low. Council passed a budget for FY2017 that integrates these priorities and elected to hold flat increases in publication charges for both of SfN journals. Council also approved a strategy that would enable the Society to strategically deploy funds from the reserves in support of the field in the future.
At its summer meeting in Boston, Council will continue conversations around organizational strategic priorities and discuss potential priority areas for investment to enhance the reach and impact of SfN programs and advance the field.