A Fond Farewell

September 28, 2012
Randy Schekman, Director of the BSA, reflects on the current state of the Fund

This is my last year as Chair of the Jane Coffin Childs Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA). Joan Steitz, the former Chair of the BSA, invited me to join the Board in 1993 and then asked me to return as her successor in 2002. I can’t begin to recount the nearly 20 years of stimulating interaction with the fellows, the Childs family and friends, and the many incredible scientific board members who helped select the fellows. I am particularly grateful to

Betty Ford, the former Administrative Director of the Fund who served in that capacity for 55 years and through my initial 8 years as a Board member. Betty reminded me when I started in 1974 that I had withdrawn my JCC application in favor of a fellowship from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because it offered a stipend of $500 a year more! And to this day, Betty retains a perfect recall for embarrassing details of that sort. I am also indebted to Kim Roberts, Betty’s successor, and her assistant Heather Demet, who have taken us into the electronic age with this online newsletter, our Homepage and our online application website. Finally, I am pleased to report that Steve Elledge, a current and most enthusiastic member of the BSA, has agreed to succeed me as Chair of the BSA.

There are too many other people to thank here for the wonderful years I have enjoyed in the Childs organization, but I plan to do so on the occasion of the 75th anniversary symposium and festivities on November 2. Instead, I wish to highlight the service of Tony Hunter (Salk Institute, who has stepped down from the Board, and to welcome Haifan Lin (Yale Medical School) who joined us beginning with the spring meeting and Huda Zoghbi (Baylor College of Medicine) who will join us in the fall.

Above everything else, it has been most gratifying to participate in the recognition and selection of the finest young biomedical scholars from among our international pool of applicants. The tough and often fun part is the vigorous give and take among the BSA members as we winnow the group of finalists down to a precious few winners. And then, in the fall, our judgment is ratified when we meet the fellows in person at their posters during our retreat at Interlaken. In the past three years, we have changed the annual symposium and ask the third-year fellows to speak about their work during the time of their postdoctoral training. Most of these wonderful fellows are just embarking on the academic job market, and we believe the exposure of the fall symposium helps them to communicate their discoveries to a broader audience.

I know I leave the organization in good hands, and I look forward to future interactions with all of the Board members and many of the fellows.