March 2009 Newsletter:

Minutes of the BSN Annual General Meeting

Held 15th Sept 08, Kingsdown Conference Centre,
University of Bristol.

In attendance - in excess of 21 members of the Society
In the chair: Fran Ebling (FE)

  1. Apologies for absence.

    Julian Davies, Alison Douglas and Julia Buckingham (JB)

  2. Minutes of the 2007 AGM

    (NCSL learning and conference centre, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham) were circulated in the January Newsletter

    The minutes were accepted as a true and accurate report of the meeting. Proposed by Clive Coen, Seconded by Gareth Leng (GL).


  3. Matters arising from the minutes

    All covered elsewhere in the agenda.

  4. Chairman's report, incorporating membership and financial reports

    Financial summaries were circulated at the meeting. Since 2005, the society has weathered concerns regarding the impact of electronic publishing on society income but income has actually increased (£98K - £103K per annum). We are now entering a period of change for the journal as JB (and her team) step down from the position as Editor in chief and Dave Grattan (DG) takes over as the Editor- in-Chief with support from Allan Herbison and Colin Brown as Deputy Editors. The increased income from the journal has meant that the society is in a good position to support both the annual meeting of the BSN and symposia at other conferences. It was noted that for the Nottingham meeting attendance had been subsidised by approximately £110 per attendee. Costs at Bristol were lower and the subsidy would consequently also be less. In addition to conference support, we are pleased to report that the uptake of the grants awarded by the society has increased and we are actively supporting outreach activities. The society is going to revisit the idea of research support schemes in early 2009. In addition to income from the journal, income from subscriptions has also increased, as while we lost 22 members we gained 27 new members and we have an increased income from interest gained on society assets.

    It was noted that the accounts had been audited and approved by Dr Jane Robinson. The meeting was given the opportunity to question any aspects of the accounts.

    A document summarising the moneys spent on grants was circulated. FE thanked the grants subcommittee. FE pointed out to the meeting that the success rates for the grants schemes run by the society were very high (normally 100%) and encouraged members to apply to the schemes.

    Approval of the accounts was proposed by DG and seconded by GL.

    Julian Mercer (JM) presented details of the outreach initiative - In 2006 GL had suggested that the BSN should act to increase public awareness of neuroendocrinology. To address this, a subcommittee had been formed and they have met and discussed how we might achieve greater promotion of neuroendocrinology at secondary schools level. The subcommittee are now working with the Biosciences Federation as part of an initiative to generate resources for teachers to use in the classroom. The programme is being launched next Monday, there are currently 8 practicals available, with a further 30 are undergoing health and safety assessments, and should be available for the launch. The BSN has committed to contribute £10,000 for the development of resources and will provide access to the 'Briefings' series, the BSN logo will be displayed on the website and a link to the BSN website will be provided. As a major sponsor we will also have a place on the programme board and thus have direct interaction with the teams developing the programmes. John Russell asked as to the age of the target audience. JM replied that it was aimed at secondary school age children but that it had not been made clear as yet who else may get access. The site is being set up in an interactive way and as such teachers and pupils will be able to feedback comments to the developers.

    Relative to the society finances, FE reported that AD had indicated that there will be a financial surplus at the end of the year and that AD was proposing to the Society a transfer of the excess to the B&M reserve account. Comments from the floor suggested that we should consider spreading money across different banks, to minimise any risk due to the financial climate. It was noted that the government guarantees assets up to £35K in any account and this was the same for charities. GL asked whether it would be prudent to buy Euros in preparation for the Rouen meeting. It was the opinion of the meeting that AD should review the options available.

    Action - AD

    FE reported that the committee was proposing that the subscription fees for full members be raised to £75 to meet journal production costs, but that student subscriptions should remain at their current level. This was approved by the meeting.

    Action - AD

  5. Appointment of Examiners of the accounts.

    FE on behalf of AD and the society thanked Jane Robinson for agreeing to act as the auditor for 2007 and proposed that Jane act as the auditor of the accounts for the forthcoming year. This was accepted by the meeting. Post meeting note: due to changes in the 2006 Charities Act the Steering Committee will consider appointing external auditors at the next meeting in Feb 2008.

  6. Meeting Secretary's report.

    Thanks to Allison Fulford and colleagues at Bristol for organising a successful meeting with an interesting scientific programme.

    Next year's meeting will be hosted in Edinburgh on the 28th-30th June by Dr Alison Douglas. The abstract deadline will be Easter 2009.

    In 2010 the annual meeting will be forgone in favour of the ICN which will be in Rouen in France, from July 10 - 15.

    The BSN is not currently committed to any additional symposia but encourages applications from members.

    Comments from the floor of the meeting asked whether we can have more interactions with other societies such as the BNA. It was suggested that the committee could be more proactive and should contact other relevant societies.

    Action - Helen Christian

  7. Report of Editor in Chief Journal of Neuroendocrinology

    JB was unable to attend the meeting, but the new Editor in Chief Dave Grattan had been in regular contact with Julia and thus provided a joint report.

    2007 review
    Submission rates have increased, the average for the last three years was 190 but in the first 4 months of 2008 the journal had received 104 submissions. The average time to process a paper was reported to be 39 days, 3 days quicker than the previous 2 years. Time to a final decision was 62 days and time to publication was reported to be 4 months. The current acceptance rate is 62%. Most submissions (73%) are original articles, 17% are reviews. 33 short reviews were published in the June 2008 issue of the journal.

    The young investigator perspectives are still being well received. The young investigator prize review (written by the Mick Harbuz 2007 prize winner) was a new initiative in 2008, and this year's prize winner has again been asked to submit a review.

    Wiley takeover of Blackwells publishing
    Since the takeover it was noted that there had been a 30% increase in institutional access for the Journal and institutional renewal of access was running at 98%. The impact factor of the journal has decreased from 2.77 to 2.59 (2007) from its high in 2003 of 3.04. The reason for the decline was a poor year in 2005, the effect of which will not affect the 2008 impact factor. It was noted that the impact factor for the journals competitors had also decreased over the last few years. DG noted that it was a key aim to ensure the Impact factor exceeds 3 again.

    JB relayed to the meeting her thanks to Glenda Gilles and John Laycock for all of their hard work on the journal and also to thanked the senior editors and reviewers, in particular over 40 people who are not on the editorial board who processed more than 5 manuscripts each over the last year.

    The future
    The editorial office will move to Otago when DG takes over as Editor in Chief and will employ scientifically trained assistants.

    Allan Herbison and Colin Brown have agreed to act as deputy editors for DG. DG envisages that there will be senior editors who will take responsibility for subsections of the journal and that editorial board members will by necessity agree to review a number of papers each year. Details of the new editorial board will be published in the January edition of the Journal.

    It is planned that "special issues" will continue to be produced. DG would like to increase the number of reviews and it has been suggested that there could be an annual "Review" issue of the journal. DG would also like to promote the journal further by marketing BSN sponsored symposia under the banner of the Journal.

    DG indicated that he was open to any suggestions from the membership as to other ways of developing and promoting the Journal.

  8. Journal of Neuroendocrinology Secretary's report

    John Morris reported that the 98% retention for the journal was greatly above that for other journals held by Blackwells.

    The signing of the new contract between the BSN and Blackwells/Wiley had been delayed due to the change in the Editor-in-Chief. John thanked GL for comments received regarding the content of the contract. DG and John Morris will visit Wiley/Blackwells in Sept 08 to finalise details of the contract.

    GL suggested that the Journal might want to produce a special edition ready for the Rouen meeting in 2010

    The question was asked, should the page numbers should be increased and would this increase profit for the BSN? John responded that the BSN receives a percentage of the profits but that it is not clear how this % is calculated. John will take this up with Blackwell/Wiley next week. It was noted that there is an agreed page number but this did not impact upon editorial decisions.

    John Russell noted that the back issues are not included in the institutional subscription. John Morris will take this up with Blackwell/ Wiley next week.

    Clive Coen, noted that it was a shame that the first two years of the Journal are not on PubMed. John will take this up with Blackwell/ Wiley next week.

    Clive Coen asked if there is an official route through which any problems noted with the journal should be reported. DG indicated that any issues should be routed through the editorial office.

    Action - John Morris

  9. Honorary membership

    8 nominations were put forth and accepted by the meeting. All 14 honorary members will be listed on the website.

  10. Election of committee members.

    It was noted that the constitution of the BSN was vague with regard to the terms served and re-election of committee members, such terms were only defined for the chair.
    It was noted that Julian Davies and Clive Coen had been on the committee since 1996 and had indicated a desire to step down.
    Neil Evans and Julian Mercer had been re-elected onto the committee in 2007. The chair would continue in post until 2010.
    John Morris and Helen Christian were up for re-election in 2008.
    The meeting approved re-election of John Morris and Helen Christian.

    This left 3 vacant spaces for ordinary members on the committee. Nominations had been received from the committee for Kirsty Smith (ICL), Kevin O'Byrne (KCL) and Megan Holmes Edinburgh.
    They were duly elected unopposed

    The committee has the option for co-opting members where required. Julian Davies had represented the Manchester and clinical neuroendocrine communities. The committee was proposing that it co-opts members to represent these two areas and the selected individuals could be elected onto the committee at the 2009 AGM.

    GL suggested given the current membership of the committee it would be good to consider someone from the Cambridge area.

    Action - FE to liaise with JD as to suitable members to co-opt onto the committee.

  11. AOB

    ICN Rouen 2010
    GL reported that the format of the meeting would be that there would effectively be 4 meetings running at the one time that would cover reproduction, stress, metabolism/growth and hypothalamic neurones and peptides. Each programme will comprise 4 sessions at different levels of analysis from molecular/cellular approaches to clinical/behavioural aspects, staggered over the 4 days, so participants can attend sessions at a specific level of analysis across the 4 programmes should they so wish. It will be a truly international meeting and all regions will be represented.

    John Russell noted that the SBN meeting would be held in Toronto to follow the ICN meeting and there would be a Parental Brain meeting in Sept 2010.

  12. Date and Location of next meeting

    Edinburgh June 2009