Message From Colleen Kraft, ASM President
Dear ASM Supporter,
In 2022, we addressed pressing global issues and emerging public health concerns, culminating with a satellite event that ASM organized within the White House US-Africa Summit. ASM convened Ministers of Health, Ambassadors and science leaders from African countries, Europe and the U.S., identifying a vision for the future of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the need for global surveillance and data collection systems under a One Health approach. It was also a year of celebrating our commitment to diversity and continuing to break barriers in the microbial sciences with the goal of making microbiology one of the most diverse and welcoming fields.
As always, our successes wouldn’t be possible without our members making breakthroughs every day through their work. I am particularly thankful and proud of the great partnership that the ASM volunteer leadership has with our CEO and ASM staff. It is a high-energy and effective synergy that has been instrumental to envisioning our future and guiding our actions and impact throughout the year.
As 2022 comes to a close, I would like to highlight just a few of our numerous accomplishments from this year.
Spotlighting Microbes and Climate Change
The American Academy of Microbiology, our honorific leadership group and think tank, released the report entitled, Microbes and Climate Change - Science, People & Impacts. For the next 5 years, the Academy will focus on this key topic with the goal of surfacing the essential role that microbes play both as friends and foe in climate change. The report provides a foundation for current knowledge about the role of microbes in climate change, while presenting recommendations for research priorities, policy considerations and societal recommendations to mitigate climate change and improve the dynamics between microbes and social equity. Building on the importance of this topic, we are including Climate Change and Microbes as a guest track at 2023 ASM Microbe.
Advocating for Microbial Sciences in Public Policy
In early 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci kicked off ASM’s new “Meet the Policymaker” speaker series. The year culminated with an ASM-hosted celebration of Dr. Fauci’s service, attended by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. In between, we saw an unprecedented set of activities and successful implementation of ASM-supported policies. ASM members heard from a diverse array of policymakers, from the first head of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships to the USDA’s Chief Scientist.
Partnering with other organizations, ASM hosted 3 Hill Days. The first focused on Clinical Microbiology and Human Health, bringing ASM members together to advocate for sound policy around regulation of diagnostics and reinforcing the value of global collaborations around virus research. A climate change and microbes focused Hill Day leveraged recommendations from a new policy paper that drew from the Academy’s efforts and highlights the essential role of microbes in addressing climate change. Finally, ASM members worked with partners to advocate for increased investments in microbiome research and development.
In the fall, ASM-supported provisions—including those advancing the bioeconomy, microbiome research and diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM—were signed into law as part of landmark science and innovation legislation. As the year drew to a close and Congress finished its work, ASM celebrated success in a number of other areas. These included the adoption of the Tracking Pathogens Act to advance the role of next generation sequencing, success in blocking Congressional efforts to place harmful limits on pathogen-related research and success in staving off efforts to provide the FDA with enhanced regulatory authority over laboratory developed tests that would have proven detrimental to infectious disease testing.
Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in STEM
In an effort to further our mission of diversity, equity and inclusion in the microbial sciences, we launched the Future Leaders Mentoring Fellowship. This program matches students from underrepresented groups with mentors who are invested in setting them up for professional success. This year, 125 students participated in the mentorship program. The success of this program prompted us to do more. We quickly launched a donation campaign, and, thanks to your overwhelming support, in 2023 we will be able to support 10 additional fellows! And we plan to grow the program even further.
I was also energized by a very productive workshop that ASM organized in Chicago, convening key science leaders in biotech, pharma and academia to explore how to best weave antimicrobial drug discovery science into the fabric of ASM. I cannot wait to see all that we will be able to implement in 2023 with the amazing leaders that we convened.
None of this would have been possible without your support. These and many other ASM programs rely on members and supporters like you. Thank you for all your contributions to ASM growth and success. As we look ahead to 2023, I invite you to get involved with ASM. Support our mission by making a donation, even if small, attend ASM Microbe 2023 and connect with your colleagues through our online community, ASM Connect. Opportunities and impact are boundless when we work together!
Wishing you a safe New Year,
President, American Society for Microbiology