I hadn't expected to be wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2011 in the capacity of Acting Chairman, but as those of you who attended our last AGM will appreciate, I have been co-opted back on to the committee just until our new Chair Alison Douglas is able to take up the reins. In common with the rest of British society, we face a somewhat uncertain few years with diminished funding for research, and some trepidation about what the long term impact of hugely increased student fees in England will be on university life. At least in our own arena it is a pleasure to report yet again a highly successful year for the BSN. The Journal has continued to go from strength to strength under the leadership of Dave Grattan, and has continued to generate a sizeable income to support our various grant schemes. I'm delighted that our resources are now sufficient that we have been able to launch a scheme to provide real research support in the form of consumables grants of up to £5K per year to support the experimental costs of PhD students, and also research Masters or Honours undergraduates where the case for support is valid. Our intention is that the guarantee of real consumable costs should help BSN members leverage other support from within and external to their own institution, and will not only ensure that we continue to train neuroendocrinologists, but also that members are able to keep their research programs ticking over via their students' efforts when other sources of research support are scarce. As we are a registered charity, all the funds go to the student/supervisor, overheads are not paid. See below, and our website for details of the Student Project Support Grant.
One of the major events of the year was the International Neuroendocrine Congress in Rouen back in July, and I was pleased that 80 or so UK participants supported the event, making us one of the largest national groupings. Our French colleagues put on a splendid event, both scientifically and socially. One of my highlights was hearing Roger Guillemin open the meeting by talking about his discovery of GnRH; simply inspirational. Roger was awarded the Freedom of the City of Rouen at the spectacular Conference dinner, photo below. At the sharpest of cutting edges, hearing Matthias Tschöp talking about the generation of peptides which might be able to target two membrane bound receptors simultaneously was stunning. I was also impressed by the efforts of the organizers to lose some of the cream of British neuroendocrinology (OK, and New Zealand too, Zane) off a 1000ft cliff at Étretat, evidence below. Rouen also put on some spectacular fireworks to celebrate the end of the conference; apparently it was also Bastille Day. I am delighted to report that the Council of the International Neuroendocrine Federation elected Gareth Leng as the next President, so many congratulations to him. Gareth did a superb job chairing the programme committee for the Rouen meeting, and will now oversee the 2014 meeting to be held in Sydney, Australia. It is terrific that UK based scientists continue to play a major role in shaping the international development of neuroendocrinology.
One of my personal highlights for 2010 was being invited to the Turkish Neuroscience Congress at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, and then being invited by the president of the Turkish Endocrine Society to present a seminar at Erciyes University. This is located in Kayseri, in central Anatolia, a remarkable historic city with a rapidly expanding economy. I am really excited that the BSN steering committee has reciprocated by inviting colleagues from Turkey to share our annual meeting for 2011 in Cambridge. There are details of this meeting elsewhere in the newsletter, but as you all know Cambridge is a fantastic place to meet. One of the innovations this year is that all PhD students who submit an abstract and poster will be given the opportunity to also present the key points of their work orally in a datablitz session. Many of us have observed the success of this approach at other meetings and we believe it is essential to give students the maximum exposure possible, so please come and give it a try, 3-5 July 2011 are the key dates.
Finally, can I encourage you all to renew your membership online, and encourage your colleagues and students to join the BSN if they are not already members? Renewing online took me literally 3 minutes, completely painless, though apologies to those of you who did have problems when the renewal site went live a few weeks ago, please do not be put off as the system works fine now. Membership fees have been held yet again at £75 for full members and surely represent the best value that any society can offer in providing the journal, vibrant meetings, and a wide range of grant schemes with a far higher success rate for legitimate applications than anywhere else.
Best wishes for 2011, I look forward to seeing you in Cambridge!
Fran Ebling, Nottingham