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Todd Jones, with Keynote speaker, MS Swaminathan, and
Program Chair, David Ellis
Yes, it was a dry heat, but it was still hot. And, no, I'm
not talking about my version of the "chicken dance"
or, heavenforbid, any dalliances with dancing girls. No, I'm
talking about the hot topics discussed during the 2008 World
Congress on In Vitro Biology! This year's meeting was particularly
piquant, with plenary sessions that explored a broad spectrum
of subjects from the application of small RNA molecules, to
the production of bioactive molecules in cell culture to biofuels.
Does it get any hotter than that? From a personal perspective,
I particularly enjoyed the Plant Biotechnology symposium on
approaches to abiotic stress tolerance and the IVACS symposium
on Emerging Technologies in cell culture - great stuff! And,
of course, the Keynote address by Prof. M. S. Swaninathan
on the integration of biotechnology, biodiversity and sustainable
development into an "Evergreen Revolution" was especially
thought-provoking and stimulating. I completely support, and
hope to benefit from, Prof. Swaminathan's pursuit of an "era
of biohappiness" in the years to come. I would also like
to acknowledge the co-sponsorship and participation by the
Japanese Tissue Culture Association and the Japanese Association
for Animal Cell Technology, our exhibitors and our corporate
sponsors. Without their support and participation, this meeting,
and our society, would be greatly diminished - my sincere
appreciation to all who contributed and participated.
played at the Joint Section Social
In addition tothe scientific seminars and discussions, we
also took time at the meeting to honor some of our membership.
Dr. Arthur McIntosh and Dr. Michael Horn were recognized as
SIVB Fellows from the In Vitro Animal Cell Science and Plant
Biotechnology sections, respectively. Dr. Jack Widholm, Emeritus
Professor of Plant Physiology at the University of Illinois,
was honored with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Widholm has made many significant contributions in the
field of plant physiology, plant tissue culture and plant
transformation. Over the course of his career, he has been
a colleague, mentor and friend of many of us in the Society
and the plant biotechnology community. To all honorees: Congratulations
on the recognition of your contributions to the Society and
to the scientific advancement of in vitro biology!
In the final synopsis, judged by the caliber of the scientific
content, the stunningly beautiful desert venue and entertaining
(not to mention personally embarrassing) social events, the
2008 World Congress was, well, hot.
was also at the Tucson meeting where I assumed the Presidency
of SIVB. Since this is my inaugural President's report, I
would like to take this opportunity to give you a "State
of the Society" summary. As of this writing, the Society
for In Vitro Biology is in the strongest financial position
that it has been for years. We are in the black, we have a
positive cash flow and we a solid financial foundation. Scientifically
we are as vibrant as ever, as evidenced by the caliber of
our annual meeting and the growth of our journals. And, if
the success of our student "section" is any indication,
we have a solid core of engaged, invigorated young scientists
who are willing and able to propel the society into the future.
That being said, we have also experienced a steady decline
in membership and meeting attendance over the past several
years and I intend to make it a personal goal of my presidency
to reverse that trend during my term. I also expect to imbue
in our Board of Directors a solid sense of fiscal responsibility
so that we may be able to, not only, grow financially but
also have the wherewithal to "grow" our membership.
It is my hope that, with money in the coffers and an energized
membership, we can begin to "market" our science
and our contributions to a broader scientific and societal
community. My goal is to further the objectives of the Society
and to ensure a vibrant, relevant and highly recognizable
Society in the years to come.
consider it a privilege to be able to lead this Society and
I consider myself quite lucky to be accepting the leadership
at this particular point in time. As I mentioned, I am inheriting
a society that is on solid financial footing for the first
time in years. This could not have been done without strong
leadership from the Board of Directors to make the tough,
but necessary decisions. I would particularly like to acknowledge
the contributions of our outgoing Treasurer, Richard Heller,
and our new Past-President, Paul Price. It is through their
diligent monitoring and budgeting of our expenses that I can
now state the SIVB is "in the black". On the behalf
of the society, and from me personally, I would like to extend
my thanks for their responsible leadership! I would also be
totally remiss if I failed to acknowledge the efforts and
contributions of our outgoing Past-President, David Altman.
David has spent a 6 year term on the Board of Directors, as
President-Elect, President and Past-President of the Society
and our current fiscal frugality can, in large part, be contributed
to him. Early on he recognized the need for the Society to
tighten the reins, be fiscally responsible and above all,
watch the bottom line. David started the process that brought
us from the brink of near insolvency and put us solidly on
the path toward financial recovery. Simply put, without David's
guidance and leadership, the SIVB may not even exist today.
I personally want to thank David for his years of contributions
and for, quite possibly, saving the society. David, your 6-year
term may be over, but I doubt your contributions have ended!
I am looking forward to working with our new Board of Directors,
including our new President-Elect, William Smith, and, of
course, with you, the Society membership, as we meet the challenges
and opportunities that await us. Whether it's a dry heat or
not, it's going to be exciting!