March 2009 Newsletter:

Treasurer/Membership Secretary Report

Credit crunch - I do hope that none of our members have personally suffered badly with the recent ‘credit crunch’. The BSN is surviving well at present. Following approval by the AGM, we now have £200K in our reserve account bringing in a fixed high interest rate. This was invested prior to the sudden worldwide currency problems in October. Providing that the bank doesn’t collapse (we have faith in the Government!), we expect to hold onto these substantial reserves which are our backup to keep the Society running in the event of any serious downturn in the royalties received from the Journal of Neuroendocrinology (i.e. Wiley-Blackwell). This seems unlikely for 2009. Today I received the yearly statement from Wiley-Blackwell informing me of the large increase in profits from the Journal in 2008, and the correspondingly large increase in our royalties (that is, the amazing sum of £128K in total for 2008). The 2009 deals were made before the economic downturn, however, we have to expect the market to be tougher for 2010 and beyond. In order to continue to protect our finances, I have opened new accounts in which to safely house additional sums of money due from Wiley-Blackwell, and the committee are regularly reviewing the financial situation.

Grant schemes - On the other hand, as a charity we are committed to benefiting the public, including our members, and we have been giving money away as steadily as we can. Our grant schemes were popular in 2008 and over-subscribed in some cases. We gave away more than £25K to members (see below for a breakdown of the grant schemes). Additionally, we gave away a substantial sum (£5K) towards the development of the ‘Practical Biology’ website for school children. This is still under development, and we are committed to continuing support to this Nuffield Foundation and Biosciences Federation initiative for 2009. The next grant deadlines (1st March) will probably have passed by the time you read this newsletter, and the following one will be 15th May for the Undergraduate Student Laboratory Experience grants; another popular scheme appreciated by many members.

Summary of Grants awards for 2008:
Grant Number of awards
International Conference Travel 14
Neuroendocrinologists Research Visit 5
Undergraduate student laboratory experience grants 7
Student Travel to BSN meeting 5
Symposium Support 2
Total £25,000


Membership - With the International Congress of Neuroendocrinology 2010 coming up next year, we are planning substantial financial support to encourage members to attend, including both for registration and travel. This will be in addition to our usual grant schemes which will remain open as usual. Please ensure that you renew your membership and make sure that if you are a member of academic staff, that your PhD students and Research staff are all members this year and in 2010, so that they are eligible to apply for anything going! Please visit the BSN website to join or renew your membership, and to check the members’ directory. Membership remains at an approximately constant rate compared to the last few years, but despite that we have welcomed many new members to the fold, especially international and student members.

Annual Conference - The next annual meeting will be here in Edinburgh and we invite you all to join in. As usual, registration and accommodation are heavily subsidised by the BSN, and the rates are especially generous for BSN members- another good reason to renew your membership this year!. In fact, registration rates have remained the same in the last few years precisely to facilitate your attendance and enjoyment of the BSN annual meeting. Please see further details and the website location in the separate information box in this newsletter.

Alison Douglas, Edinburgh