SfN Council Reviews New Programing, Funding at Fall Meeting
SfN’s volunteer Council and Committees work year-round on overseeing initiatives that serve the global membership and ensure the long-term vitality of the Society’s financial posture. Council meets three times a year to dialogue with Committees, identify opportunities to improve current programming, and continue the advancement of the Society’s mission. During its fall meeting in Chicago, Council reviewed the success of Neuroscience 2019 and plans for the 50th annual meeting at Neuroscience 2020, reviewed SfN’s finances, discussed new ways of leveraging effective training programs, reviewed preparations for SfN’s 50th anniversary, and more.
Advancing Scientific Exchange
SfN recently negotiated endowment agreements with the Grass Foundation of $600,000 for the Albert and Ellen Grass Lecture and $225,000 for the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience. These substantial awards will enable SfN to continue in perpetuity highlighting breakthrough discoveries in its lecture series and recognizing exceptional young scientists working in behavioral neuroscience.
SfN holds that scientific progress depends upon global exchange and collaboration. At Neuroscience 2019, Council and the Program Committee launched the Science Knows No Borders program, which allows scientists who were denied visas to the United States the chance to present an abstract remotely and interact with attendees at the annual meeting.
Council approved a two-year term extension for JNeurosci Editor-in-Chief, Marina Picciotto, who will continue at the journal’s helm through December 31, 2022. In addition, Council endorsed a recommendation to move JNeurosci further towards open access. Starting in the summer of 2020, authors will be permitted to deposit their Author Accepted Manuscript in an open repository immediately upon acceptance (the version of record in JNeurosci will retain a six-month embargo). Authors will continue to enjoy the CC-BY license already available for papers in both JNeurosci and eNeuro which remain gold open access. With these changes, SfN’s journals will be in compliance with “Plan S.”
Supporting the Neuroscience Community
SfN launched the Leadership Development Program (LDP) pilot, which provides the highest ranking Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) recipients a yearlong training program focused on building leadership skills. The program received over 1,000 applicants in its first year for 15 places. Interested applicants for the second program cycle may apply when submitting their 2020 TPDA application.
SfN received a $1.28 million competitive award from National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS) and Stroke to fund the Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) for another five years. NSP engages underrepresented graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in a two-year program that offers a variety of training on career advancement topics. NSP has supported hundreds of trainees for almost 40 years, and SfN looks forward to continuing this work.
To address an emerging membership trend in SfN's four historic countries outside of the U.S. — Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan — Council appointed a Membership & Global Programs Working Group this fall. The working group’s charge is to provide input and guidance on how to balance the need to grow membership in these four countries, alongside a strategy to be a resource to other countries that are emerging in neuroscience who may have a lower historic percentage of SfN members.
Educating and Engaging the Public
SfN completed its yearlong modernization and improvement of Neuronline this fall. Construction of the new site relied upon member feedback. The final product has an improved search function and makes it easier for visitors to explore the over 1,000 pieces of content.
SfN completed a special edition 50th anniversary podcast series hosted by SfN Past President Larry Swanson. Over eight episodes, the series tells stories of groundbreaking moments from SfN’s history from the perspective of past, current and future leaders. All activities being led by Council and Committees to celebrate SfN’s 50th Anniversary at Neuroscience 2020 will be listed on the SfN website.
Advocating for the Field
SfN’s 2019 Hill Day brought members and lawmakers together to discuss the importance of robust and reliable funding for neuroscience research. The 48-member cohort — representing 24 states, 46 international participants and four coalition partners — conducted 83 office visits, 14 of which were with members of Congress. Congressman Jerry McNerney gave a floor speech on the morning of Hill Day, and Congressional Neuroscience Caucus Co-Chairs Earl Blumenauer and Cathy McMorris Rodgers submitted a resolution recognizing Brain Awareness Week.
After a successful pilot, SfN formally launched an Advocacy Training Program that offers customizable, in-person seminars covering best practices for effectively advocating for neuroscience. SfN has five trainings around the United States, including in Washington, D.C., planned for 2020. Council will also be working closely with the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) to support the buildout of a robust advocacy program in Canada.
Finance and Organization
In light of financial pressure on the organization as a reflection of modest declines in SfN membership, particularly in the regular member category, alongside lower annual meeting attendance and lower revenues from annual meeting exhibitors, Council undertook several decisions following recommendations from the Finance Committee. These includes modest annual meeting registration increases, which include increases in the discounted fees for speakers and volunteers; and a two-step increase for JNeurosci and eNeuro fees. These increases come are alongside the decision to eliminate the JNeurosci manuscript submission fee. Overall, the financial health of SfN remains strong.