President's Message


Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, University of Alabama at Birmingham

January 10, 2017

Dear ASMB Colleagues,

On behalf of the ASMB leadership team and Council, I want to wish you and your loved ones peace and health in 2017.  Best wishes for scientific success as well!  Our goal is to make ASMB a valuable resource for enhancing scientific progress in matrix biology and for promoting professional development of our members, both established and those in training.  ASMB exists for your benefit.  I encourage you to participate in any way you can and to communicate with us.

The past year was an exciting one for ASMB.

The American Society for Matrix Biology recently held its biennial conference November 13-16, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Florida with the theme of "The ECM microenvironment: a regulatory force in aging and disease". Judith Campisi of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging" was our keynote speaker. There were nearly 300 attendees who participated in 5 plenary and 15 concurrent sessions and who presented 169 posters.  We also welcomed the participation of two guest societies, TERMIS-AM and the International CCN Society, who sponsored sessions.  For the first time this year, ASMB trainees (from 3 countries-USA, Canada, and Spain) organized and led sessions on topics of their choosing.  These sessions were well attended and the trainee leaders (Francisco Javier Rodriguez-Baena, Heena Kumra, Sumeda Nandasa, Kurt Zimmerman) were enthusiastic and admirably professional.  It was fun working with these future leaders! ASMB Junior (Vincent Tagliabracci), Senior (Renato Iozzo), and Iozzo (Thomas Barker) Award winners were honored at the meeting.  In addition, the ISMB Distinguished Awardee, Karl Tryggvason, gave his award lecture in a Plenary Session chaired by ISMB President, Francesco Ramirez.  The ISMB and ASMB partnered to present a lecture in honor of Ruth Chiquet-Ehrismann, delivered by Jean Schwarzbauer.  ISMB also generously provided 5 international travel awards to young scientists to attend the meeting: Francisco Javier Rodriguez-Baena, Sanne D'hondt, Heena Kumra, Nan Yang, and David Pulido-Gomez. The conference was capped off with an entertaining evening at the Salvador Dali Museum under the November supermoon. We are grateful to all the programming/planning committee members for their hard work in identifying outstanding speakers for a stimulating and innovative program and for reviewing abstracts. We also wish to thank our supportive benefactors (NIH (NIA/NIAMS), Company of Biologists, Shriners Hospitals, ISMB, Matrix Biology, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Center for Matrix Biology, StemBioSys, Advanced BioMatrix, Amsbio, New England Biolabs, and Abbvie) and to David Birk and the University of South Florida. Of course, none of this would have happened without the terrific management and calming skills of the ASMB Executive Director, Kendra LaDuca.

In 2017, ASMB will be developing new initiatives to better reach out to its members and to provide an ongoing resource for advice and career development through use of social media and blogs at its website.  These ideas arose from discussions with trainees at our Career Mentoring and Women Mentoring Women Breakfasts, led by Richard Tucker and Merry Lindsey, respectively. Alexandra Naba (University of Illinois Chicago) and Justin Weinbaum (University of Pittsburgh) have generously offered to lead this effort.  You can expect to hear more about new avenues for ASMB communications through responsible social media platforms.  We will also continue discussions regarding the establishment of a competitive Founders Prize.


A major new initiative of ASMB is the hosting of 2-3 day workshops focused on targeted topics which do not have other established conference venues.  These will be in held in odd years to complement our biennial meetings held in even years.  Selection of the workshop topic is the result of a competitive process. The ASMB workshops were initiated by our past president, Suneel Apte, to increase member activity in the "odd years".  In 2017, the first ASMB Workshop will be on the topic "Basement Membranes", which will be held July 12-14, 2017 on the Vanderbilt Medical Center campus in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.  The workshop organizers, Roy Zent and Jeff Miner, have assembled an outstanding cadre of speakers for sessions focused on such topics as basement membrane biophysics, synthesis and assembly, interactions with cellular receptors, genetics, disease, and therapeutics.  There will be ample opportunities for trainees to present their work in short talks or in poster sessions, and the organizers expect to be able to provide some travel grants for trainees and junior faculty. Additional program and registration information for the 2017 ASMB Workshop on Basement Membranes will soon be available on the ASMB website ( Registration is expected to open in March 2017. Please consider participating and encouraging others whose work may relate to basement membranes to attend the workshop.

ASMB is also enthusiastic about increasing its interactions with other matrix-focused societies and ASMB leadership has been engaged in discussions with Matrix Biology Ireland and the International CCN Society.  ASMB has had a relationship with TERMIS-AM (Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society-Americas) since our 2010 meeting and ASMB will be participating in the 2017 TERMIS-AM meeting.  We are also working to interact with the Histochemical Society for the 2018 meeting and ASMB Councilor, Liliana Schaefer, will facilitate these interactions. ASMB is also pleased to participate in the 2018 Matrix Biology Europe World Congress in Manchester; further details of ASMB participation are expected to be finalized in early 2017. We also plan to continue promoting one of Suneel's goals: increased representation of matrix biologists on editorial boards of journals that have not traditionally focused on matrix in order to ensure that matrix biology is published in all the most prestigious journals. 

ASMB recently held its elections and we had excellent voter turnout!  We welcome Lynn Sakai as President-elect and three new Council members: Merry Lindsey, Alexandra Naba, and Chris Overall.  Lynn is well known and highly respected by the matrix community for her seminal contributions on fibrillins.  Lynn is already busy working with Kendra LaDuca to organize the 2018 ASMB meeting. Ambra Pozzi was elected to another term as Secretary/Treasurer.  Ambra did a terrific job guiding ASMB finances during her first term and I am pleased that she was enthusiastic about continuing these responsibilities. She will also represent ASMB at the ASIP-ASMB lecture at Experimental Biology in April 2017.  Merry Lindsey, an expert in the ECM in cardiac remodeling, chaired the successful Women mentoring Women session at the 2016 meeting. Alexandra Naba, known for her work on proteomics of ECM components in cancer, is already the ASMB-ISMB liaison for social media.  Chris Overall has developed novel proteomic technologies to study matrix proteolysis. Thomas Barker is the new leader of the ASMB membership committee and Dwayne Stupack will continue as editor of The Matrix Letter, assisted by Karen Posey. We look forward to the contributions of these highly talented and enthusiastic matrix biology advocates to raise the profile of ASMB and to make ASMB a more valuable resource for the matrix community. 

We also want to extend our sincere gratitude to the dedicated service, inspired leadership, and wisdom of our outgoing past-president, Jeff Davidson, and to our now past-president, Suneel Apte, who helped guide and grow ASMB during their terms.  We also extend our appreciation to retiring ASMB Councilors Caroline Alexander, Billy Hudson, Peter Bruckner, Hiromi Yanagisawa, and Dieter Reinhardt who have made invaluable contributions to ASMB and matrix biology.

Please stay involved, my friends! Your activism is key for the success of matrix biology.