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As we head into the New Year I pause to reflect on all of the work our society volunteers have invested in the SRS to ensure our organization remains vibrant and strong. My thanks go out to members and volunteers who continually contribute their time and talent to advance our field of research.
The past several months have been a busy time for the SRS. We continue to press forward with our high-priority initiatives to keep sleep and circadian research "on the radar" at the NIH. We have also been engaging members of Congress to demonstrate the importance of sleep and circadian research on our overall understanding of human health. The SRS has been working with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on a number of initiatives as described later in this message.
In late October eight members of the SRS and two members of the AASM engaged in a series of meetings with NIH Institute & Center Directors and program officers. Overall, the SRS and the AASM received positive receptions at each of the ten Institutes and Centers we visited. It is becoming apparent over time that regularly meeting with NIH officials to discuss new developments in our field as well as each of the Institutes & Centers’ interests in sleep and circadian research is raising awareness of the value of the science in our field and how it cuts across many other areas of biomedical research. A more detailed summary of the visits is included in this issue of the Bulletin.
Following the meetings at NIH in late October, the SRS and AASM had an opportunity to meet with Gary Gibbons, MD, the new Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on November 15. The meeting with Dr. Gibbons was extremely positive. He is interested in sleep and circadian disorders research, understands the challenges for our field moving forward, and promises to work with the SRS and AASM to continue implementation of the new NIH Sleep Disorders Research Plan.
In an effort to facilitate implementation of the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Plan, the SRS and AASM will jointly host a Workshop on February 1 in Bethesda, Maryland titled, "Sleep and Circadian Research: Identification of Transformative Scientific Questions and Addressing Barriers to Progress." Members of the sleep and circadian research community will join NIH programs staff to identify and discuss a series of transformative questions for our field and discuss ways to advance sleep and circadian science. Ultimately, a Joint SRS-AASM task force will develop a whitepaper based upon the outcomes from this workshop with the goal of using it as a partial roadmap for future research initiatives in the field.
The SRS continues to meet with members of Congress to educate them on the link between sleep and human health. Over the past two years the SRS has had success in getting language into appropriations bills related to sleep research and the implementation of the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Plan. The SRS will continue to advocate for sleep and circadian research in the coming year. Additional information about specific activities will be communicated to members in the next few months.
In response to feedback regarding the process for nominating members to run for the Board of Directors, Officers, and Section heads, the SRS Board of Directors has expanded the Nominating Committee. The committee was previously made up of the President, President-Elect, Immediate Past President and the Secretary/Treasurer. The new committee will keep the previous members and include two Section Heads. The Section Heads that participate in the Nominating Committee will rotate based upon the year. In odd-numbered years the Heads of the Circadian Rhythms Section and the Behavioral Research Sections will serve on the nominating committee. In even-numbered years, the Heads of the Basic Research Section and the Sleep Disorders Research Sections will serve on the nominating committee. This change will provide a greater role for Section Heads to help shape the future leadership of the SRS.
On the topic of nominations, it is not too late to place your name in nomination for the SRS Board of Directors. The deadline for nominations is January 4, 2013. More information can be found by clicking here.
Remember to mark your calendars for SLEEP 2013, June 1-5 in Baltimore, Maryland. Based upon the session and abstract submissions, SLEEP 2013 will have an abundance of outstanding science on the program. The SRS Educational Programs Committee will once again be hosting a “Basics of Sleep” Post-Graduate Course at SLEEP 2013. This course supports the SRS mission of educating individuals in our field and is great way to convey basic science to more clinically-oriented sleep professionals.
As part of the SLEEP 2013 meeting, the SRS will be hosting the 18th Annual Trainee Symposia Series. This year the TSS will have an ‘omics’ of sleep theme with a series of workshops specifically on ‘omics’ topics in order to expose trainees to emerging science in our field. In keeping with the ‘omics’ theme, the TSS Keynote Speaker will be Eric Green, MD, PhD, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. We thank Dr. Green for agreeing to speak with the next generation of sleep and circadian investigators. Trainees who anticipate submitting an application for a NIH F or K award in the next 18 months are encouraged to attend the 4-hour trainee grant writing workshop that will be held on Saturday, June 1 prior to the kick-off of the TSS.
As we enter 2013 the SRS Board of Directors will begin a process of re-examining priorities in the organization to ensure that services and activities that are of high-impact or are highly valued by members continue to be the focus of the organization while scaling back or eliminating items that are not broadly used or have little impact on members and the field of sleep and circadian research. As always, your input is valued as this process progresses. Feel free to send suggestions on any way the SRS can improve services and activities to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I close this edition of the President’s Message, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all SRS members for your continued commitment to our organization. Despite trying times over the past few years with tight research budgets and economic uncertainty, you have remained committed to our organization through your work and your membership. This commitment has allowed us to move forward as a field and will help keep us strong as we move into 2013 and beyond.
Ron Szymusiak, PhD