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News & Press: SIT Newsletter

SIT Newsletter: April 2019

Friday, April 5, 2019  
Posted by: Lindsey Keeley
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April 23
Officer and Award Nomination Deadline
More Information

April 24
Abstract Submission Site Opens
(Oral, Poster & Travel Award Consideration)

May 2
Deadline for SIT Excellence in Mentorship Nominations

June 6

Abstract & Travel Award Application Submission Deadline

Postdoctoral Fellow- Open Positions
Rice University Dept. of Bioengineering
Houston, TX
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Assistant Professor (tenure track)
Rice University Dept. of Bioengineering
Houston, TX
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Postdoctoral Fellow- Neurobiology/Developmental Biology
University of Texas
San Antonio, TX
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Research Scientists in Pediatrics
University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
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Assistant Instructor- Biological Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
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Curriculum Fellow for Online Learning- Immunology
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA
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Scientist- Molecular Biology
10X Genomics
Pleasanton, CA
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Scientist- Research & Early Development

San Francisco, CA
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Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
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Analytical Chemist

Mantra Bio
San Francisco, CA
More Information

Assistant Professor (tenure-track)
Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School
New Jersey
More Information

ESTRO 38 Annual Conference
Milan, Italy
April 26-30, 2019
11th Annual Radiogenomics Consortium Meeting
Rochester, NY
June 18-19, 2019

16th International Congress on Radiation Research

Manchester, UK
August 25-29, 2019

ASTRO's 61st Annual Meeting
Chicago, IL
September 15-18, 2019
65th Annual RRS Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 2-6, 2019
5th International Symposium on the System of Radiological Protection
Adelaide, Australia
November 19-21, 2019
Tien Tang- Biology

Jason Domogauer- Medicine
Nicholas Colangelo -Medicine/Biology
James McEvoy - Biology
Ryan Jonathan Wei - Medicine
Jade Moore- Multidisciplinary
Britta Langen- Biology
Brian Canter- Biology
Julie Constanzo- BioPhysics
Calvin Leung- Medicine/Biology
Rutul Patel- Pharmacology
Alexandra Taraboletti-Biology

Dear SIT members,

Last month I responded to a Twitter thread by a graduate student who asked if other graduate students had sought out mental health care in grad school. It was my first time publicly discussing my battles with anxiety that have left me paralyzed at times. I maintain that seeking counseling and therapy have equipped me to better handle the stresses of completing my dissertation. I was not alone as the tweet garnered 559 responses, 7000 likes, and was retweeted over 1000 times.

Discussion about the mental health of graduate students is not limited to Twitter. A study last year published in Nature found that 41% of graduate students have moderate to severe anxiety. The National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine published a report last year titled Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century. The report recommends stronger mental health services including accessible care, regular climate surveys to assess well-being, and help for faculty to support mental health care for their students.

My goal with this foreword is to begin normalizing mental health issues in our RRS SIT community. Working together, we can combat the isolation, anxiety and stress of research and support eachother along the way. Here are a few actions you can take as a graduate student or post-doc to improve the mental health at your institution:

1. Access your institution's counseling facilities
2. Practice self care - find something outside of lab that makes you happy
3. When you feel down, talk to other graduate students, post-docs, or
   faculty that you trust
4. Look out for other people in your lab or in other labs who could be

Together we can end the stigma around mental health in graduate education.

Brian Canter
SIT Committee Member

We are also on Facebook! Check out the SIT Facebook group.
As SITs, the widespread changes science is currently facing will impact our scientific careers, including, but not limited to, new job opportunities, securing future government funding and alternative funding sources (i.e. industry, private donors), and open access (OA) to scientific literature.

Currently, access to most taxpayer-funded research globally is behind a paywall; a model that is supported by journals and funding agencies as many require papers be made free at some point (i.e. within 12 months). A modest number of journals offer a hybrid OA model where a researcher pays a publication fee to publish an OA article in addition to their institution continuing to pay subscriptions to access all other content. Institutions around the world are beginning to push back against journals with no OA or hybrid OA models. cOAlition S (Plan S), an international consortium of research funding organizations with support from the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), is leading the fight to ensure all scientific publications resulting from publicly funded grants are published in compliant OA journals or platforms by January 2020. Plan S currently comprises 16 national research funding organizations in 13 countries who have agreed to implement the 10 principles of Plan S in a coordinated way. In summary, the principles outline the following:

1. Authors would be allowed to retain copyrights of their publications.
2. Plan S would establish incentives for journals to establish and support
    OA platforms with robust criteria and requirements.
3. OA publication fees would be capped and covered by funding
    organizations or universities.
4. OA would apply to all scholarly publications including monographs and
    books and funding organizations would monitor compliance and sanction

In the past three months, the plan has gained momentum with funding agencies in China, who now produce more scientific papers than any other country, and Africa giving support to Plan S. However, key international players, including Germany and the U.S., believe Plan S goes too far.

Despite Plan S concerns by national funding agencies, U.S. institutions are feeling the pressure paywalls are putting on researchers and university funds. Recently, the University of California (UC) system took a stand by opting out of a contract with Elsevier, one of the largest scholarly publishers in the world, to pay over $10 million per year to maintain access to their journals. The journal was unwilling to integrate subscription charges and OA publishing fees to make OA the default for any article published by a UC scholar to provide more people access to publicly funded research. This is significant as the UC system accounts for 10% of all United States publishing output.

Overall, many institutions and countries agree that the current system is both financially unsustainable and ill-suited to meet the needs of the global research enterprise. Plan S will be discussed this May at the Global Research Council in São Paulo, Brazil, which is befitting given South America’s strong tradition of OA repositories and fee-free publishing often supported by government subsidies.

If you want a particular topic or issue addressed in this section, please feel free to reach out to me via email at!

Jade Moore
SIT Committee Member

The award is bestowed each year by the Scholar-In-Training Committee. It honors an individual who has provided exceptional mentoring to a SIT member in both their professional and personal aspirations.

The SIT committee is now accepting nominations for the SIT Excellence in Mentorship Award. Many of us have had the experience that good mentorship is mandatory for a sound career development. If you believe your mentor deserves recognition for his/her work in guiding early career scientists, please send a nomination letter detailing your nominee and their contributions for consideration to Keep in mind that a mentor can be nominated by multiple people. We look forward to receiving your nominations.

In this regard, the SIT committee released a brief overview of what good mentorship can mean, which is, e.g., important when searching for a new training position in the field of Radiation Research. The compilation was based on the input we received in previous mentorship award nominations, where we were overwhelmed by the wide span of aspects brought up.

Nominations will be accepted until Thursday May 2, 2019.

For your reference, the previous award winners are listed below:
2006 – Joel Bedford
2008 – John Zimbrick
2009 – Frederick Domann
2010 – Doug Boreham
2011 – Al Fornace
2012 – Nils Cordes
2014 – Brian Marples
2015 – Sandra Demaria
2016 – Mark Dewhirst
2017 – Edouard Azzam
2018 – Mostafa Waleed Gaber

We also remind you to Register for the Radiation Research Society Annual Meeting and Submit an Abstract. Similar to last year, approximately 50% of the speakers for the oral sessions will come from top scoring abstracts. I encourage you and your colleagues to submit an abstract of your most exciting science so that you can further enhance the quality of what promises to be an outstanding scientific program. Hope to see you there!

Tien Tang
2019 SIT Committee Chair, Radiation Research Society
Garg, Sarita, Ratan Sadhukhan, Sudip Banerjee, Alena V. Savenka, Alexei G. Basnakian, Victoria McHargue, Junru Wang et al. "Gamma-Tocotrienol Protects the Intestine from Radiation Potentially by Accelerating Mesenchymal Immune Cell Recovery." Antioxidants 8, no. 3 (2019): 57.

Constanzo J, Vanstalle M, Finck Ch, Brasse D, Rousseau M. Dosimetry and characterization of a 25 MeV proton beam line for preclinical radiobiology research, Medical Physics 2019. doi: 10.1002/mp.13512.

Do you know of any SIT publications? Please let us know!
This month’s featured SIT is Luis D. Borrero-García of Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff’s lab at the University of California San Francisco. Luis was kind enough to answer personal questions about himself:

Q. What is your project focus?

My postdoctoral project currently focuses on whether transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) inhibition during radiation therapy (RT) can provide greater benefit than RT alone in glioblastoma and breast cancer metastasis tumors. We have also incorporated molecular imaging of active TGFβ to assess distribution, tumor burden and immunological response to RT.

Q. What are your thoughts on the field of radiation or why did you choose to work in this field?

During the past ten years, I have always been interested in the mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy and how to overcome this resistance using different approaches. For my postdoctoral research, I wanted to contribute in a similar way, but changing a little bit on the field. That’s when I started to look in different types of cancer and the therapeutic options available. Since I had some undergrad research experience in neuroscience, I became particularly interested in brain cancer and the therapeutic options available. Even though radiation therapy continues to be one of the most common ways to treat this type of cancer, patients relapse and current efforts focus in looking for ways to improve response. I think radiation field will continue to grow, specifically in the cancer field with the development of different instrumentation, and for radiation therapy, the use of combination treatments. Moreover, the use of innovative functional imaging with radiolabeled drugs will provide novel ways to assess therapeutic response and a strong translation to clinic.

Q. How is the transition from grad school to postdoc? (i.e. pros/cons)

Transition is always challenging and it depends on the lab, institution, city, etc. As a grad student, I was introduced to many important aspects of research, such as writing proposals and journal articles, giving oral presentations, networking, among others, whereas as a postdoc you reinforce those aspects. The biggest change for me was that I come from a small institution where things were a little bit more restricted in terms of funding, core labs, career development seminars/workshops. Now as a postdoc, these tools are easier to have, which I think is great in order for me to continue growing as a scientist.

Q. How easy or difficult was it to transition from Puerto Rico to the bay area? (i.e. pros/cons, food, people, etc)

At first, it was a little bit difficult in terms of the weather, transportation and food. Puerto Rico is an Island in the Caribbean and temperatures are always around 80-90 ̊F. Therefore, for me the Bay Area is cold all the time, but I am getting used to it. For transportation, it usually took me 10 minutes to get to the lab in my car in PR, whereas in the Bay Area, the commute is more challenging because I don’t have a car and had to figure out different ways to get to the lab in San Francisco, while living on the East Bay. In terms of food, I have to spent more time cooking and preparing Puerto Rican food, which I love, but there are not so many Puerto Rican restaurants in the area.

Q. What are your hobbies and interests outside of science?

When I am not at the lab, I love playing tennis. Since I moved to San Francisco, I haven’t been able to play, but I am always watching matches and following up my favorite players. I also love watching science fiction movies and series, specifically those that include a strong female lead role.

Q. What is a fun fact about yourself?

Even though I am really bad at cooking, I love watching cooking shows. I love Puerto Rican food, so I’ve been doing my best to learn how to cook it. It has been a pretty good until now.
Antibodies Travel Grants Program
Application Deadline: Quarterly
ASTRO Funding Opportunities
ASTRO funds research in radiation biology, cancer biology and radiation physics. Funding opportunities are available for junior faculty and residents.

Proposal Central
Database of foundation, non-profits and organizations grants
Do you know of any other funding sources? Please let us know!
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