Dear SMB member:
In this letter I will highlight some of the SMB activities that are underway.
The start of 1998 has witnessed the appearance of the new format of the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology associated with the transfer of publication to Academic Press. All members should have received the first two issues. If you are having problems, please contact Torcom Chorbajian, who is keeping the subscription lists.
Included with this Newsletter is information concerning the candidates for President and the Board of Directors. Thanks to these excellent candidates for their interest, and to the Nominations Committee for having nominated an outstanding group of candidates.
Elizabeth Scholl and Ramit Mehr are in the process of updating and modernizing our home page which now has a new look. Our web page can play an important role in informing the public about our field. If you have suggestions for changes or would like to help develop the site, please contact Ramit Mehr or Elizabeth Scholl.
The 1998 Annual Meeting for the Society for Mathematical Biology will be held on July 13-17, 1998 in Toronto, Canada, in association with the SIAM meeting, for details see: http://www.siam.org/meetings/an98/. SMB members register for the meetings at the same fees as SIAM members. For best choice of hotels, it is best to make reservations as soon as possible. The mathematical biology sessions cover diverse topics including interacting populations, dynamical control, fisheries, DNA computation, physiological dynamics, delays in biological systems, education, and employment in biotechnology. In addition there will be a short course on genomics on July 12 presented by Mark Perlin, Carnegie-Mellon University, and several plenary lectures of direct interest to mathematical biology. A special feature of the annual meeting will be an SMB reception and poster session which will take place on Wednesday, July 15 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. It is still not too late to decide to attend and to encourage your students to attend. Funds are available to help support students. In addition to the SIAM home page, We will post information relevant to SMB on our web page, http://www.smb.org
One area of concern is that research in mathematical biology receive adequate funding from the main funding agencies. The survey carried out by Denise Kirschner (see summary in this issue) shows that there is a common perception that it is difficult to obtain accurate reviews of research proposals. I have recently discussed these problems with John Guckenheimer who is President of SIAM, and also well known for his research in dynamical systems with special applications to biology. We are thinking of ways to make the funding agencies aware of the many contributions of mathematical biology, the great potential of our field to help understand biological systems, and the need for accurate evaluations of proposals in mathematical biology. One bit of good news regarding funding is that the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, (Dr. Marvin Cassman is the Director), has recently announced a program of Supplements for the Study of Complex Biological Systems. The program announcement is at http://www.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-98-024.html. The program is structured to provide a supplement to existing NIGMS grants to support the salary and expenses of collaborating investigators such as physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and other experts with quantitative skills relevant to the analysis of complex systems. One way the NIH will judge the need for this program, is by the number and quality of applications that are received. I encourage SMB members who are working in areas that may be eligible for funding under this program to pursue this opportunity for cross-disciplinary work. NIGMS has issued a report about a New Approaches to the Study of Complex Biological Processes Workshop http://www.nih.gov/nigms/news/reports/complexbio.html that should be of interest to SMB members involved in medical research. The activity and interest shown by NIGMS is certainly good news, but we need to find ways to sensitize others about the potential for mathematical biology in diverse research areas.