Message From Steven Finkel, ASM President
Reflecting on 2021, I am reminded of ASM and its members’ long history addressing countless challenges. Over the last 122 years, we benefited from revolutionary technological advances that enhanced our work. In that time, we also witnessed scientific discoveries—and emerging threats and epidemics. However, throughout the decades our dedication to promoting and advancing microbial sciences has persevered.
Like many of our peers during public health crises of decades past, we sprang into action when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We expanded our reach, connected the scientific community worldwide and provided much needed resources to experts and the public.
On behalf of ASM, I express my deepest gratitude to all of our members, donors, volunteer leaders and contributors who stood alongside ASM and dedicated themselves to propelling microbial sciences forward in 2021.
Our critical work would not be possible without your support. As we near the end of 2021, there’s still time to contribute to our mission and support ASM’s essential programs. Please consider donating to ASM and know that your contribution makes a difference.
Here are a few highlights of what we accomplished together this year:
Breaking Barriers to Sharing New Science
With travel restricted during the pandemic, ASM seized the opportunity to show that microbial sciences—just like microbes—know no borders. In 2021, we launched the World Microbe Forum, a collaboration between the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS), and 8 other societies around the world.
ASM and its global partners secured nearly 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for low-resourced countries.
This meeting broke barriers in the way we share science and addressed the most pressing challenges facing humankind today. We brought together more than 6,000 scientists from every corner of the world. Thanks to the virtual format and collaborative nature of the meeting, we saw a 22% increase in international attendance. For the first time, we also designated an official charity for our annual meeting, partnering with COVAX, a multi-partner initiative that aims to ensure worldwide equitable COVID-19 vaccine access. I am pleased to report that through your donations, ASM and its global partners secured nearly 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for low-resourced countries.
To better serve members, ASM launched an online community in 2021. ASM Connect provides members a platform to easily share the latest science, collaborate and make advancements in their specialized fields. From questions about lab supply chain issues, Q&A sessions with editor-in-chiefs of ASM journals, to discussions about new ways to combat antimicrobial resistance, ASM Connect spurred innovation and new partnerships spanning the full spectrum of microbial sciences.
Advocating for New Investments in ScienceASM led an initiative that resulted in the inclusion of $1.75 billion for CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program in the American Rescue Plan Act. The AMD program is fundamental to U.S. leadership in tracking COVID-19 variants of concern, overcoming the current pandemic and strengthening infrastructure in preparation for the next one. ASM is urging continued investment in the program in 2022 and providing trusted information via our AMD resource page.
ASM leadership also convened a United Nations General Assembly Science Summit on The Role of Microbiology in Sustainable Development—this summit helped global leaders understand how the power of microbes can be used as a sustainable energy source for biodiversity, tackling climate change, solving hunger problems and addressing other issues.
Solving Challenges Facing Humankind Today
ASM’s Global Public Health Programs was awarded $600,000 in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the first year of a 5-year program combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and other healthcare threats through AMR surveillance and prevention work. ASM and its partners, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Brigham and Women's Hospital and ASM’s global consultants, will strengthen global AMR preparedness and response via a collaborative approach with the CDC’s newly established Global AR Laboratory and Response Network.
This year, the Academy launched a 5-year scientific portfolio focused on understanding the relationship between microbes and climate change.
American Academy of Microbiology, ASM’s honorific leadership group and think-tank, has taken an active role in addressing one of the most significant threats to our future—climate change. This year, the Academy launched a 5-year scientific portfolio focused on understanding the relationship between microbes and climate change. The Academy’s scientific portfolio will bring together experts in different fields to shape the scientific direction of microbial research, develop tools to inform climate-related policies and connect key stakeholders to accelerate the translation of science into practical solutions. The portfolio aims to demonstrate the role of microbiologists as important scientific contributors and bring forward new insights to support microbe-driven climate change solutions.
Deepening Our Commitment to Open Access and Open Science
In our ongoing efforts to support open access, ASM re-launched Microbiology Spectrum as the sixth fully open-access journal. Since its launch, Spectrum has published more than 300 articles and is on track to accept more than 600 papers by the end of this year, with more than 300 papers being submitted to Spectrum each month.
Our COVID-19 Research Registry continues to publish timely, vetted and expert curated COVID-19 research.
Our COVID-19 Research Registry continues to publish timely, vetted and expert curated COVID-19 research. Covering topics like emergence of new variants, discussions about vaccine boosters and anti-body treatments, this cutting-edge resource is freely available to the public and remains a valuable and trusted source for scientists globally as they continue to combat the pandemic.
Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season. I look forward to furthering our mission together in 2022.
American Society for Microbiology