• Dr. Baron, ASBMR President 2014-2015, Letter One

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    President’s Message to Membership

    Dear Colleagues:

    As I present my inaugural report as ASBMR President, let me first tell you that I am very impressed by the breadth and depth of ASBMR’s activities. Our society is strong and is a critical player in both the scientific and clinical communities of our field. It is most respected by all constituents, academia, industry and the government, and highly valued by its members, worldwide. It is a great honor to be at the head of such an organization. Thank you for trusting me.

    For me, the most important role of the ASBMR President is to have a vision, for the future of our field and for the role that ASBMR can play, ensuring the success of research and of its clinical translation, as well as the best care for the patients. This is indeed, besides our annual meeting and the financial health of ASBMR, what most of my energy has been spent on. As you will see I propose that we together focus on a positive vision for the future, in part by spending time on strategic planning and in part by implementing some new initiatives, aimed at what I believe constitute critical elements for the future of our field: helping rising stars, raising funds, reaching out to other organizations, leveraging our international reach, in part via the IFMRS, and continuing to increase the quality of our science, being basic or clinical, and the impact of our journal(s).

    Because of the changes in the overall context and some of these initiatives, this promises to be an important year for the Society. As you can see from this report, we have made significant progress since the Annual Meeting in October and I look forward to the strides that will be made in 2015 in further supporting the future of bone research. 

    ASBMR Strategic Plan
    For the past four years, our work has centered on four important strategic priorities that were set in 2011. At the Winter Council meeting, which took place February 5 and 6, 2015, the ASBMR Councilors and Committee Chairs evaluated our progress on these strategic priorities began charting our course for the next three to five years. The potential strategic directions will be shared with the membership for feedback in the coming months. 

    The questions to be addressed by a new strategic plan are at two levels. For the field of bone and mineral research, how can research capacity be sustained through a down cycle to be ready for the next up cycle? And, what are the strategic activities and partnerships for researchers in pursuit of innovation and promising new areas of discovery? For ASBMR, what are the most important ways it can provide value to the field, to its members and, in doing so, continue to sustain itself and grow, at least in quality and influence?

    ASBMR Budget
    ASBMR staff and Secretary-Treasurer Dolores Shoback spent a great deal of time this past fall and winter developing the ASBMR 2015 budget. As you are well aware, our revenue sources, although quite healthy, have declined, primarily due to decreases in Annual Meeting registration, publications revenue and corporate support. But new companies are emerging and I remain confident in our future. With this in mind, and with our focus on balanced operational budgets, the 2015 budget was developed with a conservative view of revenue potential and a corresponding decrease in expenses. The ASBMR staff team carefully considered where efficiencies could be created and a balanced budget was presented to the ASBMR Finance Committee for review. Over a series of three long conference calls, the Committee carefully reviewed the budget, paying special attention to Annual Meeting registration rates and expenses, including the SmithBucklin fees. The Finance Committee’s recommended budget for 2015 was approved by Council at the recent meeting. . I’d like to particularly thank Secretary-Treasurer Dolores Shoback, whose attention to detail and tremendous efforts are remarkable, and the entire Finance Committee for their thoughtful questions and suggestions and their careful review of the budget. 

    To address our revenue challenges and raise funds, we have recently appointed a new Development Committee, co-chaired by Bart Clarke and Shonnie Silverberg, to explore new initiatives and mechanisms to increase individual giving, corporate funding and foundation support. Additionally, over the past year the Publications Committee, chaired by Bob Jilka, has worked with our publisher, Wiley, to develop new revenue-producing publications initiatives. A new membership option for online-only JBMR® with a reduced dues rate was approved by Council in September and has been enthusiastically embraced thus far by 59% of our renewing members. To further explore new publishing initiatives that could support the strategic priorities we will develop at our Winter Council Strategic Retreat, a strategic meeting with Wiley, the JBMR® publisher, will take place in March at the Wiley headquarters.

    ASBMR 2015 Annual Meeting
    The ASBMR Annual Meeting is the highlight of each year. I have truly enjoyed working with my colleagues Michael McClung, Fanxin Long, Natalie Sims and ASBMR staff to develop the scientific program for the 2015 Annual Meeting. Some highlights of the program include:

    • Gerald D. Aurbach Lecture – Bone, Fat and Energy Metabolism, Bruce Spiegelman, Ph.D.,
      Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School (USA)
    • Louis V. Avioli Lecture - Skeletal Replacement Therapies, Michael Whyte, M.D., Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (USA)
    • Clinical Evening on Current Issues in Osteoporosis
    • Basic Evening on Mouse Genetics and Epigenetics
    • Symposium: Bone Health in Patients Treated for Cancer
    • Symposium: Skeletal Neoplasia
    • Symposium: Bone Marrow Microenvironment
    • Symposium: Skeletal Consequences of Diabetes and Obesity
    • Symposium: Low BMD and Fractures in Younger Patients
    • Symposium: Metabolism of Bone Cells
    • Special emphasis session on Career Development Awards

    In addition to the Annual Meeting, we will again host a pre-meeting symposium, ASBMR Symposium – Crosstalk Between Kidney and Bone: Bench to Bedside, organized by Keith Hruska, Beate Lanske and Orson Moe. Highlights of the program include:

    • Endocrine FGFs and Klotho as Paradigms for Bone Kidney Crosstalk
    • FGF23 and Klotho: Combined and Specific Functions
    • CKD-MBD: Roles of FGF23 and Klotho
    • Cardiovascular Calcification in Aging, Diabetes & CKD
    • Treatment of Disorders: Bone-Kidney Crosstalk
    • Open Session on Hot Topics

    Outreach to International Bone Scientists
    In 2014, under President Roberto Civitelli’s direction, a great deal of progress was made in our continued effort to expand ASBMR’s presence internationally. Teresita Bellido led our work in collaborating with the Argentinean Association of Osteology and Mineral Metabolism (AAOMM) and the Argentinean Federation of Societies of Endocrinology (FASEN) to have an ASBMR highlights session on each of their meeting programs.

    Another initiative this year was to work with several Brazilian medical groups to develop a conference on bone biology, disease and treatment in conjunction with the release of the Portuguese translation of the ASBMR Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism. John Bilezikian and Roberto Civitelli served on the program committee and presented at the meeting in August 2014 in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More than 100 Brazilian scientists and physicians attended and attendees were given three months of complimentary ASBMR membership benefits, which provided them access to the ASBMR Education Resource Center as well as online access to the JBMR® and Primer. We have continued discussions with ABRASSO, the Brazilian bone society, and will participate in the 6th Brazilian Congress on Densitometry, Bone Metabolism and Osteoporosis (VI BRADOO), taking place in Curitiba, Brazil in April 2015 with 1,500 attendees. ASBMR will sponsor an “Annual Meeting Highlights” symposium and a pre-meeting program based on the ASBMR Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism and will have a booth in the exhibit hall to promote ASBMR membership.  

    In addition to this outreach in Latin America, ASBMR has been again working with the International Chinese Musculoskeletal Research Society (ICMRS) to plan a second joint conference in Changsha, China in April 2015, a following up to the successful first conference that was held in 2013. Five ASBMR speakers will travel to China to present at the meeting and to visit ICMRS Collaborating Centers in China for scientific exchange and potential research collaborations.

    The work of the International Federation of Musculoskeletal Research Societies (IFMRS) continues, with Lynda Bonewald serving as the ASBMR representative and co-chair of the Federation.  Currently, the Federation has two active work groups. The Work Group on Scientific Exchanges is led by Bente Langdahl, past ECTS president, and is exploring the feasibility, including funding mechanisms, of establishing international scientific exchange programs. The Work Group on Big Data is led by Lynda Bonewald, with the support of ASBMR staff. This Work Group has developed a comprehensive list of big data resources. The inventory is now available on the IFMRS website. I would like to thank Dr. Bonewald for her leadership of this project and for the development of this important resource, which will benefit bone researchers worldwide. There are also discussions underway to expand the work of the IFMRS in the future, which will be discussed at its next organizational meeting in April, held in conjunction with the 4th Joint Meeting of ECTS and IBMS in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

    ASBMR Task Forces on Clinical Issues

    The Society’s task forces continue to work toward providing clarity on clinical issues related to bone that will better inform health care providers in the diagnosis and treatment of bone disease. These include:

    • Task Force on Managing Osteoporosis Patients after Long Term Bisphosphonate Use – Co-chairs Robert Adler, M.D., and Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, M.D.
    • Task Force on Long-Term Safety and Efficacy of Vertebral Augmentation – Co-chairs Peter Ebeling, M.D., FRCP, and Mary Bouxsein, Ph.D.
    • Task Force on Cell-Based Therapies – A joint effort with the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), co-chaired by Regis O’Keefe, M.D., Ph.D. and Rocky Tuan, Ph.D.
    •  ASBMR-NOF Task Force on Goals of Osteoporosis Treatment – Co-chairs Steve Cummings, M.D., Felicia Cosman, M.D. and Mike Lewiecki, M.D.

    The Task Force on Managing Osteoporosis Patients after Long-term Bisphosphonate Use manuscript will be submitted to JBMR® within a month. Task Forces are time-intensive endeavors and I would like to thank the chairs and members of these task forces for their contributions toward these important initiatives.

    ASBMR Grants in Aid Program (GAP) 

    As you recall, the Council voted in 2013 to provide $1 million in research funding support for ASBMR members through the Grants in Aid Program (GAP).  The program has offered a total of twenty (20) grants of $50,000 USD to ASBMR members who have submitted a peer-reviewed grant application to a major funding sponsor within the last 15 months and received a full review but were not funded. The goal of the grant is to allow the award recipient to continue to develop their research and strengthen the proposal for future funding. The grant program is open to established and young investigators, and to U.S. and international members.  To date we have provided thirteen (13) grants in the first two rounds of the award. The final round of applications is currently being reviewed by the GAP Awards Committee, with the final grants to be awarded in February 2015. In March, the first round awardees will submit one-year progress reports, and I look forward to learning how ASBMR support has impacted the awardees. I’d like to thank John Eisman and David Burr, GAP Awards Committee Co-Chairs, and the entire GAP Awards Committee for their work in reviewing applications and determining awardees.  As evidenced by the large number of applications received, 130 over three rounds, this has been a beneficial program for ASBMR members.

    Looking ahead, I would like to propose an idea for a new grant program for “Rising Stars” that would provide funding for the most promising and innovative of our early career basic scientists and clinical investigators. Such an award could help address the dearth of applicants from the bone field for K awards from NIH and equivalent early career awards in other countries, as well as the diminishing number of clinician scientists in the field. We are thinking to provide 5 grants/year or $25,000/year for 2 years to highly selected recipients of career development awards, helping them ensure successful transition to research grants. In parallel, we are planning to have, with the help of NIH, a session focusing on these issues at the Seattle meeting. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this idea.

    As you can see, ASBMR remains actively in pursuit of its mission of promoting excellence in bone and mineral research and facilitating the translation of that research into clinical practice. All of this could not be done without the ASBMR membership, the ASBMR Council, and the Staff, in particular Ann Elderkin, and I thank you all for your dedication, time and creative ideas.

    I wish you and ASBMR all the best in 2015.


    Roland Baron, D.D.S., Ph.D.
    ASBMR President