Fall Council Roundup
During its fall meeting, SfN Council discussed the successes of Neuroscience 2016, with its more than 30,000 attendees and rich scientific programming. A highlight of the annual meeting was the well-attended Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society lecture on the intersection of global mental health and neuroscience with Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of the World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. In San Diego, Council met with all SfN committee chairs to discuss key accomplishments and strategic priorities for the upcoming year. In addition to providing scientific leadership to the Society, Council also serves as the Board of Directors for the Society, with fiduciary and oversight responsibilities for all of SfN’s activities. The following overview highlights key discussion.
Financial Strength and Investing in the Field
Council discussed an update from the Finance Committee on the continued financial strength of the Society and its investments, and its ability to provide robust and high-quality programming from a position of financial stability. Council also received updates on SfN’s strategic investments in the areas of BrainFacts.org, advocacy, scientific training, and support capacity in the data analysis and marketing and communications functions, as well as on external support for the Trainee Professional Development Awards program. The program, which provides financial support for trainees to attend the annual meeting and present their science to the field, received $93,000 in external support in 2016 and facilitated 77 awards to trainees.
Council also heard from the editors-in-chief of SfN’s journals, JNeurosci and eNeuro, who reported the both publications are exhibiting strong performance and looking to make innovations in the coming year to continue building on this success.
Expanding the Global Voice of the Society and the Field
In discussing the uncertain political climate following the recent U.S. elections, Council reaffirmed the Society’s commitment to advocacy and public outreach around the importance of government-funded research. Informed by the recent member survey, SfN staff is focused on developing an extensive advocacy plan that will engage members directly with policymakers and create a voice for the exciting research and discoveries powered by government funding.
Council affirmed SfN’s dedication to advancing science by unequivocally supporting and welcoming the free exchange of ideas, diversity, and collaboration among scientists from around the world. Council also discussed ways in which the Society could pursue opportunities to engage U.S. policymakers on the importance of continued support for science and NIH.
Hollis Cline, SfN president during the 2016 meeting, made a statement at the members’ business meeting reiterating this important value: “It is essential that we make real progress on the issues that brought us to San Diego this week — brain research is on the cusp of revolutionary discovery and is widely recognized as a highest priority by nations around the globe to help the nearly 1 billion people worldwide living with a neurological or psychiatric disorder. Following the U.S. election and as a new Congress and administration assemble, we will seek to work with a large and bipartisan group of partners in the U.S. and around the globe to advance these goals and affirm these values. We look forward to supporting our diverse, international membership to advance neuroscience.”
Creating Year-Round Member Value Through Innovations in Training and PD
Council received an update from the Neuroscience Training Committee (NTC) on the development of a robust portfolio of training activities that will apply across the career span, including webinars on best practices, scientific rigor programming, and activities focused on Neuroscience Departments and Programs. The NTC also continues its efforts to develop increased value for the Society’s Institutional Program members and is fielding a survey of Neuroscience Departments and Programs to inform future programmatic offerings.
Council also reviewed the success of the Society’s first-ever virtual conference, “The Other Brain Cells: New Insights into What Glial Cells Do.” The conference, which took place in September, far exceeded its registration goal, with more than 2,500 registrants from around the world and representing SfN members at every career stage. This strong attendance signals the opportunity for future innovation, investment, and expansion of valuable online resources and experiences for members.
Recognizing Scientific Excellence and Service to the Field
Finally, Council approved recommendations made by the Committee on Committee for awards selection committee members, who are charged with reviewing and selecting honorees for the Society’s prestigious awards and prizes program. Council also reviewed the slate of award and prize recipients for 2016 and reflected on the excitement and promise that this group symbolize for the field.