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THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (IUBMB)
The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology unites biochemists and molecular biologists in 66 countries that belong to the Union as an Adhering Body or Associate Adhering Body which is represented as a biochemical society, a national research council or an academy of sciences. The Union is devoted to promoting research and education in biochemistry and molecular biology throughout the world and gives particular attention to areas where the subject is still in its early development. It achieves this in several ways.
Every three years the Union sponsors an International Congress of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Co-sponsorship of these Congresses by Regional Organizations of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is an increasing trend. These Congresses are major international meetings where current research in all fields of biochemistry and molecular biology is considered. Thousands of individual research projects are presented in poster sessions and leading investigators from many nations survey their fields and describe their own research in symposia and plenary lectures. Since 1992 IUBMB has also sponsored IUBMB Conferences held in the years between the International Congresses.
The IUBMB provides financial support for international symposia on biochemical and molecular biological research topics of current interest. It organizes or sponsors workshops, symposia and training sessions on biochemical and molecular biological education and provides free textbooks and journals to training institutions in developing nations. The Union also funds short-term fellowships for younger biochemists and molecular biologists to travel to other institutions to perform research not possible in their own laboratories, and provides Travel Fellowships for young scientists to attend its Congresses. Sponsorship of meetings and fellowships is restricted to regions that belong to the IUBMB.
The IUBMB is one of 26 Scientific Unions affiliated with the International Council of Science (ICSU), an umbrella organization for scientists worldwide. ICSU was created in 1931 to encourage international scientific activity, to affirm the rights of scientists without regard to race, religion, political philosophy, ethnic origin, sex or language, to join in international scientific affairs for the benefit of mankind. The IUBMB has been a member of ICSU since 1955 (until 1991 as IUB). The IUBMB representative serves as a member of the General Assembly of ICSU and ex-officio takes part in the work of the ICSU working group of the Biological Sciences. Through ICSU the IUBMB has been able to generate broad, and often highly productive contacts with other international bodies, including some joint programs.
The IUBMB receives most of its funds from its Adhering Bodies and from royalties from its publications. Contributions from ICSU, gifts from its members, and revenue from Special Members, add to its ability to promote biochemistry and molecular biology, and to support international science projects.
The Executive Committee of IUBMB consists of four officers and five members. Full names and addresses of the Executive Committee are found here.
THE MISSION OF THE IUBMB
The mission of the IUBMB is to foster and support the growth and advancement of biochemistry and molecular biology as the foundation from which the biomolecular sciences derive their basic ideas and techniques in the service of mankind. This it does throughout the world with particular concern for areas where biochemistry is less well developed, by promoting international cooperation and high standards in research, discussion, application and publication, and through international standardization of methods, nomenclature and symbols, in biochemistry and molecular biology. The IUBMB promotes the norms, values, standards and ethics of science and the free and unhampered movement of scientists of all nations interested in participation in activities related to biochemistry and molecular biology.
This the IUBMB will accomplish by:
The Adhering Bodies to the Union are its major members and support the Union through an annual subscription, the exact amount of which varies from one Adhering Body to another. Associate Adhering Bodies pay no subscription, but their associate delegates in the General Assembly have no vote.
The following countries have Adhering Bodies or Associate Adhering Bodies(*) in the Union.
Czech Republic -
Hong Kong* -
New Zealand -
Slovak Republic -
South Africa -
United Kingdom -
The Union includes as Associated Organizations four regional groupings of biochemical societies: the Federation of African Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FASBMB), the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB), the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), and the Pan American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PABMB). The IUBMB was instrumental in forming some of these organizations and provides financial support to some of them.
The International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC), the International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN), the International Society for Free Radical Research (ISFRR) and the International Society of Vitamins and Related Biofactors (ISVRB) are also Associated Organizations, all of which are invited to send observers to the IUBMB Ordinary General Assembly.
The IUBMB has Special Members which are organizations with professional interests in biochemistry and molecular biology and within the aims of the Union. They normally include Industrial Concerns and Research Institutes, and are encouraged to participate in the activities of the IUBMB. These members provide some financial support to the Union.
The activities of the IUBMB, including oversight of its budget, are governed by the General Assembly of the Union, which is composed of delegates from each of the Adhering Bodies. The General Assembly which meets in conjunction with the International Congress of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, elects a Nominating Committee from its membership. The Nominating Committee proposes candidates for membership of the Executive Committee from names proposed by the Adhering Bodies and by the delegates. The General Assembly then elects the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is responsible for managing the Union's affairs and meets annually, usually in conjunction with a regional biochemistry congress. The Executive Committee is composed of four officers (the President, the President Elect, the General Secretary and the Treasurer) and five additional members, each of whom has responsibilities for management of one of the following activities: Congresses and Conferences, Education, ICSU, Symposia and Interest Groups, and Publications. It has been proposed that there also be a member responsible for Relations with Industrial Research. Governance of the Union is presently being reviewed.
Each member of the Executive Committee is elected for a six-year term, and except for the President and President Elect, who each serve in that capacity for three years, may serve an additional three-year term.
Some 250 persons from about 35 countries serve on a voluntary basis on the Union's committees and editorial boards.
Every three years the IUBMB sponsors an International Congress of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The first Congress was held in 1949 in Cambridge, England and during that Congress plans for creating the Union were made. The second Congress was held in Paris, France in 1952, and the third Congress in Brussels, Belgium in 1955, the same year the Union became a member of ICSU. Subsequent Congresses were held in Vienna, Austria (1958), Moscow, USSR (1961), New York, USA (1964), Tokyo, Japan (1967), Interlaken, Luzern, Montreux, Switzerland (1970), Stockholm, Sweden (1973), Hamburg, Germany (1976), Toronto, Canada (1979), Perth, Australia (1982), Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1985), Prague, Czechoslovakia (1988), Jerusalem, Israel (1991), New Delhi, India (1994), and San Francisco, USA (1997). At the Congress in 1991 the current name of the Union was adopted. The 18th Congress is being held in Birmingham, UK in 2000, the 19th in Toronto, Canada in 2018, and the 20th is proposed for Kyoto, Japan in 2006. The venue for a Congress is chosen by the General Assembly from invitations received from Adhering Bodies.
Each Congress is organized by a committee of biochemists and molecular biologists from the host country which is responsible for planning all scientific activities. A mixture of plenary lectures, symposia, poster presentations, workshops, scientific exhibits and educational activities is presented. The IUBMB offers the organizing committee a loan to help support the Congress. Through special endowment funds it also pays for five plenary lectures at the Congress. The IUBMB awards around 50 travel fellowships, primarily to young biochemists and molecular biologists in developing nations, that cover much of the cost of attending the Congress. The travel fellows also attend a two-day orientation course just before the Congress to discuss their research and current topics in biochemistry and molecular biology.
The member of the Executive Committee with responsibility for Congresses and Conferences has the role of a liaison officer with the local organizing committees. To this end, every effort is made to assist in the organization and promotion of such meetings and in the selection of IUBMB Travel Fellows.
At its meeting in Seoul, Korea in August 1989, the Executive Committee decided that, additionally, a different type of international meeting should be sponsored by IUBMB in cooperation with a selected host country. These meetings, referred to as IUBMB Conferences, take place in the years between IUBMB Congresses. They address a particular aspect of biochemistry and molecular biology and are held in a major area of biochemical and molecular biological research. The first IUBMB Conference was held in Nagoya, Japan on the topic of "Biochemistry of Diseases" in 1992. The second on "Cell Membranes" took place in Bari, Italy (1993). The third, on "Molecular Recognition", took place in Singapore (1995); the fourth, on "Life and Death of the Cell", in Edinburgh, UK (1996); the fifth, on "Biochemistry of Health and Diseases", in Jerusalem, Israel (1998); and the sixth, on "Molecular and Cellular Networks" in Seoul, Korea (1999). The next, on "Receptor Ligand Interactions" will be held in Bergen, Norway in 2002.
At the end of 1999, IUBMB had a total capital of just under $1,000,000. Rather more than one-third of this was in Endowment Funds earmarked for specific purposes such as financing Plenary Lectures at Congresses and short-term Research Fellowships, and about $100,000 was set aside as a Reserve for the partial financing of the International Congress of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Birmingham in 2000. About one-half of the capital was in an Operating Fund which is available for financing IUBMB's many other activities.
The total income in the triennium 1997 - 1999 was $1,300,000, including donations of $140,000 to the Endowment Funds. The income of the Operating Fund was $1,090,000 more than 90% of which came from royalties from journals ($576,000) and subscriptions from Adhering Bodies ($468,000).
Expenditure from the Operating Fund during the triennium was close to the income, leaving a surplus of $36,000 over the triennium. The largest items of Expenditure were: support of scientific meetings (Symposia including those organized by IUBMB's Interest Groups, Conferences and Congresses), $452,000; administration, $198,000; education, $124,000; meetings of the Executive Committee, $100,000; support of Regional Organizations $63,000; and Wood-Whelan Fellowships $41,000.
The Union depends entirely on volunteers from the international biochemistry and molecular biology community to organize, manage and implement its activities and has no full-time paid personnel. No officer is in receipt of any honorarium. All Executive Committee members hold honorary unpaid positions. The Treasurer and General Secretary have only part-time assistance.
The IUBMB sponsors international symposia and workshops worldwide. In the four years 1997 - 2000 it will have given partial financial support to 37 symposia and 36 workshops in 30 countries. These sponsorships are determined by refereeing decisions made by the Committee on Symposia and by the Interest Group Committees, jointly chaired by a member of the Executive Committee to whom all applications should be directly addressed at least 12 months in advance and before the appropriate deadline (April 1st or September 1st). For the address of the responsible person and for other information please refer to the IUBMB home page.
The Committee on Symposia reviews applications from the organizing committee of any international symposium (of about 100 - 500 participants) concerned with biochemistry and molecular biology with preference being given to meetings in regions in which the subject is relatively less developed, and to assistance of scientists from those areas to attend symposia elsewhere.
The Interest Groups sponsor meetings with a more workshop character that focus on a restricted topic at the forefront of current knowledge and a limited number of (usually fewer than 200) participants. These workshops are not restricted to developing countries. The Interest Groups at present cover the ten areas:
The IUBMB Education Committee is involved in a broad range of educational matters. It organizes or sponsors workshops, usually where participants can discuss modern education and related topics. It also distributes biochemistry textbooks and review journals without charge to scientists and teachers in developing areas, and holds or sponsors symposia on education at regional biochemical meetings around the world. It also cooperates with the editors of Biochemical Education (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education) in identifying timely topics for presentation at symposia and workshops. In the triennium 1997 - 1999, the Committee organized or sponsored 32 workshops or symposia in 22 countries.
Education is the responsibility of a member of the Executive Committee to whom all applications should be sent. For address and other details visit the IUBMB home page.
The report Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in the Molecular Biosciences was published in 2000 to replace Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology published by the Committee in 1989. This booklet was the result of a broad international and interdisciplinary consultation that involved over 100 persons from some 35 countries. Copies can be obtained from the IUBMB home page or from the General Secretary.
At IUBMB Congresses several endowed Lectures (named after Severo Ochoa, Osamu Hayaishi, E.C. Slater, Chester Beatty) feature prominently in the programme. The Yagi Lecture, endowed by former President Kunio Yagi, is given at each IUBMB Congress and Conference.
An IUBMB Plenary Lecture is delivered at each Congress of FASBMB, FAOBMB, and PABMB and at each annual meeting of FEBS. Similarly, some of the Regional Organizations sponsor Plenary Lectures at IUBMB Congresses and at each other's Congresses. These sponsorships are indicative of the increasing degree of cooperation and the intent to strengthen the event where the sponsorship takes place.
The IUBMB Jubilee Lectures have been established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first International Congress of Biochemistry held in Cambridge, UK in 1949, at which steps were taken that led to formation of IUB (IUBMB since 1991). Up to four IUBMB Jubilee Lectures are awarded per year and financed by a grant from the Special Initiatives Fund that has been established from donations made to IUBMB. They are intended as Plenary Lectures that significantly enhance the quality of an ongoing scientific meeting, a symposium, annual national scientific meeting, or educational meeting, in particular for symposia or annual meetings of the smaller Adhering Bodies or Associate Adhering Bodies for which the budget would normally allow only for local (national) and a small number of speakers from the region. The IUBMB pays only the airfare, using the policy applicable to Plenary Lectures at Congresses and Conferences, while the host organization offers free registration and local expenses. Guidelines for the IUBMB Jubilee Lectures are posted on the IUBMB home page.
WOOD-WHELAN RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS
The Wood-Whelan Research Fellowships were founded to commemorate the services to IUBMB by the late Professor Harland Wood and by Professor William J. Whelan. They provide short-term fellowships for younger biochemists to travel to other laboratories to undertake research that cannot be done in their own laboratories. Grants usually provide travel costs and a small amount for accidental expenses. Fellows are selected from applicants in response to advertisements in biochemical journals and on the home page. Funds for these fellowships come in part from grants to the IUBMB from ICSU, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the IUBMB Endowment Fund called the Wood-Whelan Fund. During the triennium 1997 - 1999, 27 fellowships from 19 countries were awarded. More information is posted on the IUBMB home page.
THE IUBMB DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
The IUBMB Distinguished Service Award gives special recognition to biochemists and molecular biologists who have made a major contribution to activities of the IUBMB. Nominations are made by the Executive Committee and the Adhering Bodies. The first three awards (made in 2000) recognize Peter N. Campbell (UK), Anthony W. Linnane (Australia), and Uriel Littauer (Israel).
The Union has five journals that primarily report original research, reviews of current research, or articles concerning biochemical education. That with the largest circulation, established in 1976, is Trends in Biochemical Sciences (TiBS) which has about 7000 subscribers and an estimated readership of 100,000. This makes it the most popular monthly review journal in molecular biology. TiBS is designed to keep students, lecturers and researchers informed and entertained about recent developments across a wide range of topics in molecular biology. Besides informative mini-reviews, specifically aimed towards a non-specialist readership, TiBS publishes shorter debate and comment articles, letters, articles on the history of molecular biology, cartoons, crosswords and features on Internet resources for molecular biology. TiBS now has a newsgroup at http://www.bio.net: 80/hypermail/TiBS which hundreds of persons visit every month. The newsgroup aims to provide a forum for scientific comment and debate and welcomes postings on topics covered in TiBS.
IUBMB Life (which recently replaced Biochemistry and Molecular Biology International) is the Union's monthly flagship journal for rapid publication of short original research articles, critical reviews and hypothesis papers. It seeks to publish only novel and significant papers of the highest scientific caliber on a broad subject base that includes biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and molecular medicine.
Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry publishes articles that deal with the practical end-uses of biochemical research and scholarly articles relating to commercial biotechnology and applied biochemistry. Characterization studies should address directly regulatory and clinical issues. The journal also publishes commentary from members of the commercial biotechnology community on registration and clinical matters and mini-reviews in fast-moving areas.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (BAMBEd) is the new version of Biochemical Education. It aims to assist in the teaching of biochemistry and molecular biology at the college, graduate school, and medical school level throughout the world and to be useful to instructors at universities and colleges who teach biochemistry, molecular biology, and related fields such as microbiology and cell biology. Articles are welcomed on teaching techniques and practice in all areas related to these fields, on methods of assessment of the effectiveness of new educational approaches, and on research in biochemistry and molecular biology education. Short reviews will be accepted or solicited on key areas of biochemical knowledge from workers active in the field, as background material for the preparation of lectures. Articles providing details of simple, tried and tested, laboratory experiments are especially encouraged, as are papers aimed at increasing awareness of college and university faculty toward possibilities for contributing to the ongoing education of secondary school teachers.
BioFactors publishes original research and reviews on bioactive substances in living organisms. It aims at identifying and increasing our understanding of the precise biochemical effects and roles of the large number of trace substances that are required by living organisms. These include vitamins, trace elements, growth factors and regulatory substances made by cells. Articles dealing with identification of new substances and elucidation of their functions at the basic biochemical level as well as those revealing novel functions of trace substances already known are also included.
The Union sponsors Molecular Aspects of Medicine, a review journal that bridges the gap between physicians in all relevant specialties and biomedical specialists working in many areas including biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, physiology, pharmacology and pathology, and BioEssays, which is one of the most highly-cited journals in biology and combines research and perspectives to keep readers up-to-date in this field. Coverage ranges from molecular, genetic, cellular, and physiological biology, developmental biology, topics to news, reviews, and commentaries.
Metabolic Pathways Maps complement textbooks by providing a unique over-all picture of metabolism and the interrelationships of its parts. Twenty-one (21) editions have been published over 40 years and nearly a million copies have been produced. Printed in 17 books, including some of the most popular biochemistry textbooks, they are shown in leading Science Museums and on prestigious television programs.
The purpose of Inborn Errors of Metabolism Charts is to identify metabolic diseases ensuing from defective or absent enzymes resulting from mutated genes. They are a valuable introduction to the relevance of biochemistry to clinical understanding.
Enzyme Nomenclature recommends a systematic classification of all known enzymes, and is supervised by the IUBMB Nomenclature Committee. The first edition was published in 1961, and the second in 1992. The list is now presented on the web in a searchable form, at http://www.chem.qmw.ac.uk/iubmb/enzyme/ This version contains updates and, from time to time, lists of proposed additions and updatings of previous entries. Preparation of Enzyme Nomenclature is supervised by the Nomenclature Committee of IUBMB.
Biochemical Nomenclature and Related Documents (1992) assembles documents on biochemical nomenclature.
Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1989) contains the recommendations of the Education Committee. It is out of print.
Standards for the Ph.D. Degree in the Molecular Biosciences (2000) contains the recommendations of the Education Committee. Copies are available from the General Secretary or from the IUBMB home page.
The following is useful information about these publications.
Trends in Biochemical Sciences
Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Molecular Aspects of Medicine
Biochemical Nomenclature and Related Documents A
Enzyme Nomenclature (1992)
Metabolic Pathways Maps and Inborn Errors of Metabolism
The Nomenclature Committee of IUBMB, working together with the Joint Committee on Biochemical Nomenclature which is a joint committee of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and IUBMB, recommends standard terminology for biochemical compounds and uniform units in biochemistry and molecular biology, and, in some cases, classification. A compendium of recommendations on Biochemical Nomenclature is published periodically. The second edition appeared in 1992. The Nomenclature Committee's home page address is http://www.chem.qmw.ac.uk/iubmb/nomenclature . This contains links to many of the recommendations of these committees, and to other internationally agreed recommendations of use to biochemists.
The IUBMB family is rightly proud of its past record of promoting biochemistry and molecular biology throughout the world. Biochemistry has become the language of modern biology and is basic to the understanding and practice of all biological and medical sciences and of biotechnology. The explosive growth of the discipline in recent years and the new knowledge it has brought forth promise great benefit for mankind. Thus, it is essential to bring into the Union more of the world's biomedical scientists who use the techniques and concepts of biochemists and molecular biologists in their work. This need is particularly acute for scientists working in the developing areas. The Union must find additional funds to expand current programs and to encourage the use of new means for dissemination of information in its areas of interest around the world. Dedicated volunteers are at the heart of the success of the Union, and more talented biochemists and molecular biologists from all parts of the world must be brought into its future activities.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have become so broad and interdisciplinary in content that the IUBMB must foster closer relationships with other biological Unions in ICSU and with scientific organizations that share the goals of the IUBMB.
The Governance of the Union is likely to change so as to enhance even further its cooperation with the regional organizations of biochemistry and molecular biology which it is proud to have as Associated Organizations.
You may reach the IUBMB and learn more about the activities by contacting your Adhering Body or the General Secretary, whose address appears on the IUBMB home page.
THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF SCIENCE (ICSU)
ICSU was created in 1931 to promote international scientific activity in the different branches of science for the benefit of humanity. It vigorously pursues a policy of non-discrimination, affirming the rights and freedom of scientists to engage in international scientific activity without regard to such factors as citizenship, religion, creed, political stance, ethnic origin, race, colour, language, age or sex. A non-governmental organization, it consists of: (1) research council bodies (98 members with Full, Associate or Observer status), and international disciplinary Scientific Unions (26 members); and (2) Scientific Associates (29 members). These provide expertise that enables members to address major international interdisciplinary issues which none could handle alone.
The ICSU initiates, designs and coordinates major international, interdisciplinary research programmes, and creates interdisciplinary bodies which undertake activities and research programmes that include antarctic, oceanic, space and water research, problems of the environment, genetic experimentation, solar-terrestrial physics and biotechnology. It seeks to break the barriers of specialization. Several of its bodies address matters of common concern to all scientists, such as capacity building in science, data, science and technology in developing countries, ethics and freedom in the conduct of science.
ICSU is a focus for exchange of ideas, communication of scientific information and development of scientific standards. Scientific conferences, congresses and symposia are organized all round the world - over 600 a year - and many newsletters, handbooks, learned journals and proceedings of meetings are published. ICSU assists in creation of international and regional networks of scientists with similar interests, and maintains close working relations with inter- and non-governmental organizations, in particular UNESCO with which several international programmes have been launched, and with WMO.
Because ICSU is in contact, through its membership, with hundreds of thousands of scientists world-wide, it is increasingly called upon to be the spokesman for the world scientific community and adviser in matters ranging from ethics to the environment.