A Strategy for the Biochemical Society for 2000 and beyond

The Society has evolved rapidly in recent years through expansion of membership and activities. With larger and different types of meetings and the development of professional and educational activities, this has been an expansion of existing areas of activity. In publications, an entirely new framework has been put in place with the establishment of Portland Press and a greatly increased book publishing programme.

The Executive Committee became conscious of the fact that many of these developments had been considered and approved on an ad hoc basis. It was now time to take a longer term look at the future of the Society against the background of the rapidly changing situation in cellular and molecular life science.

A Strategy Working Party was set up comprising H Baum, RB Beechey, RB Freedman, S van Heyningen, ADB Malcolm (in the chair), C I Pogson, C Rice-Evans, K Snell and AJ Turner. It has met seven times during the past two years. In addition there have been discussions at Executive Committee meetings and at Council. There has also been input from the Interest Groups, the Professional and Educational Committee, the Regional Sections and individual members.

The Working Party found that the Society's structure of meetings, publications and professional and educational activities served Biochemistry well. However, amid the rapidly changing character of life science in general and the perceptions of the scientific community, government and the public, it was appropriate to determine whether the Society's present approach would remain relevant during the next decade.

The central theme that emerged very quickly was that the cellular and molecular sciences were a seamless continuum rather than a set of separate disciplines. The Society should promote the advancement of the science of biochemistry in this context. The Working Party felt that this principle should guide the Society's activities for the years to come.

The Society already has good relations with other learned societies both in the UK and Ireland and abroad. However, the strategy proposes to pursue these relations more systematically. The ultimate aim would be that, if sufficient support is forthcoming from related societies, we should work together towards the establishment of an umbrella organization to cover learned society aspects of the cellular and molecular sciences. The Society will also work closely with related societies to achieve the maximum possible co-operation in the professional and educational aspects.

Although the formal statement of strategy which appears on pp 4-12 has been approved by the Society's Council, that is not the end of the exercise.

There are two major strands to the further development and implementation of the strategy. Within the Society, the main policies will be fleshed out into more detailed proposals with targets, timescales and budgets. This will be the business plan for the Society against which achievement of the broader strategic objectives can be measured.

Equally important is the impetus to increasing co-operation between the Society and related societies which will be brought about by the implementation of the strategy. Officers of the Society and Committee members will be taking every opportunity to strengthen contacts with related Societies not just in formal meetings but in practical ways which assist all concerned. A good example is the agreement which has been reached with the Physiological Society, the Genetical Society, the Society for General Microbiology and the British Society of Immunology that the student members of those societies may attend Biochemical Society meetings free of charge and vice versa. The informal but regular meetings of Meetings Secretaries which have been held over the last eighteen months are further examples of the benefits of closer co-operation.

The Society is convinced that eventually such closer co-operation and the very nature of the development of cellular and molecular life science will ultimately suggest that some type of umbrella organization to co-ordinate areas of common interest would be mutually beneficial and cost effective. However, that remains to be seen. The most important objective at the moment is to develop practical means of working closely with colleagues in other Societies.

The Society believes that this whole area is so important that it has created a new post of Strategy Co-ordinator to oversee implementation of the strategy and its impact on external relations. Professor Brian Beechey, currently Treasurer of the Society, has been appointed to this post. So as to provide continuity, Professor Beechey will continue as Strategy Co-ordinator after his term of office as Treasurer concludes at the end of 1996. If any member of the Society or a related Society wishes to discuss any aspect in more detail, they can contact Brian Beechey at Institute of Biological Sciences, University College of Wales, Penglais, Aberystwyth, Dyfed (Tel.: 01970 622 290; Fax: 01970 622 898) or Glyn Jones, Executive Secretary, The Biochemical Society, 59 Portland Place, London (Tel.: 020 7580 5530; Fax: 020 7637 3626).

A: Aims

1.1 The aim of the Society is to promote the advancement of the science of Biochemistry. It will do so in the context of cellular and molecular life sciences as a seamless continuum.

1.1.1 Opportunities will be provided for members to exchange opinions and discuss matters relating to research connected with cellular and molecular life sciences.

1.1.2 The Society will hold appropriate scientific meetings and publish relevant scientific material, either on its own or with others.

1.2 The Society will seek close co-operation with related societies to enhance its effectiveness in scientific and cost terms. It will work towards the establishment of an umbrella organization to cover learned society aspects of cellular and molecular life sciences.

1.3 The Society will address the expected general trends in Biochemistry as a subject during the next decade and evaluate how the Biochemical Society is placed to respond.

1.4 The Society will not distinguish between the public and private sectors in promoting cellular and molecular life sciences.

B: Interest Groups and Meetings

B.1 Existing Framework

1.1 The Interest Group structure will be maintained.

1.2 The number of Interest Groups, their constitutions and the scale of their activities will be kept under review by the Executive Committee.

1.3 Interest Groups will be encouraged to foster links with other societies through joint activities at Society meetings or separately.

1.4 The pattern of Society meetings will continue. Some of these may be organized jointly with another society or societies.

B.2 Future Development

2.1 Future policy regarding Interest Group structure and meetings will be developed with the objective of establishing an umbrella organization for cellular and molecular life sciences.

2.2 The Society will foster regular exchange of information between related societies on main meetings and Interest Group activities.

2.3 The Society will promote the establishment of an informal parallel group structure which will cover the fields of interest of related societies in cellular and molecular life sciences. An illustration of how the initial loose framework of parallel groups might be drawn up is shown on page 6.

2.4 The Society will work towards the establishment of more formal relationships with related societies.

2.5 The Society will review Harden meetings including Conferences, Discussion Meetings and Satellite Meetings to ensure that they contribute to the overall aims of the strategy.

B.3 Publication of Meetings

3.1 Biochemical Society Transactions will continue to publish the proceedings of Society meetings and, where appropriate, the proceedings of meetings held jointly with other societies.

C: Publications

C.1 General

1.1 The Society will retain copyright in The Biochemical Journal, Biochemical Society Transactions and Biochemical Society Symposia.

1.2 The Society's titles will be published by Portland Press Limited.

1.3 The Society will require that proposals for publications arising out of its activities are offered first to Portland Press Limited.

1.4 The Society will publish The Biochemist on its own behalf.

C.2 Portland Press Ltd (PPL)

2.1 The Society will maintain PPL as a wholly owned subsidiary and, thereby, will retain complete overall control of the activities of PPL.

2.2 The aims of PPL are:

2.2.1 to provide a secure source of income for the needs of the Biochemical Society;

2.2.2 to maintain a coherent programme of publishing, marketing and distribution in cellular and molecular life sciences. Portland Press may also undertake marketing and distribution in other areas;

2.2.3 to disseminate appropriate materials and information to specific readerships and audiences to advance the interests of cellular and molecular life sciences and the understanding of science in general.

C.3 Portland Press Incorporated (PPI)

3.1 PPL is associated with PPI, a "not for profit company" (charity) incorporated in North Carolina, USA for the purpose of assisting PPL with the development of the North American market.

3.2 The Society appoints the directors of PPI but does not own, control, or have any liability for its activities.

D: Professional and Educational

D.1 General

1.1 The Society will provide information and advice to government, the media, educationalists, careers advisers, students and the general public.

1.2 The Society will seek closer co-operation in professional and educational matters with related societies and professional bodies. If this area can be covered effectively, in whole or in part, by joint activity with other bodies, the Society will reduce its own activities.

1.3 Private sector industry will be encouraged to take an active part in the activities of the Society.

D.2 Primary and Secondary Education

2.1 The Society will keep abreast with current practice in science education at pre-university level and its impact on university undergraduate courses and will seek to exert appropriate influence upon curriculum development.

2.2 The Society will give assistance to teachers in schools and colleges to foster better teaching of life science.

D.3 Higher Education and Training

3.1 The Society will address all aspects of education and training of cellular and molecular life scientists, including curriculum development and teaching technology.

3.2 The Society will seek to improve the quality of academic qualifications in cellular and molecular life sciences.

3.3 The Society recognizes the importance of qualifications of international standing as a means of:

3.3.1 enhancing the status of cellular and molecular life scientists;

3.3.2 enhancing the status of the Society with government and government agencies;

3.3.3 assisting the mobility of graduates in cellular and molecular life sciences and acceptance of their qualifications throughout the European Union.

3.4 The Society will explore mechanisms for the recognition of academic qualifications in cellular and molecular life sciences.

3.5 The Society will carry out projects, at both secondary and tertiary level, which will promote careers in cellular and molecular life sciences.

3.6 The remit on careers will include the facilitation of postgraduate study and choice of further research avenues.

3.7 The Society will not consider remuneration or conditions of service, except in the case of student support.

D.4 Science and Education Policy

4.1 The Society will consolidate its position as the authority on science and education policy affecting Biochemistry and biochemists, including situations where Biochemistry is part of a more general area under review.

4.2 The Society will identify areas of science and education policy which could affect the interests of cellular and molecular life sciences. The Society will develop and promote policies to protect and expand those interests.

D.5 Communication

5.1 The Society will promote a positive image of cellular and molecular life sciences.

5.2 The Society will contribute to the scientific education of the public to enhance public appreciation of the nature, processes and role of science.

5.3 The Society will not become involved in ethical or disciplinary matters relating to individuals, but may consider general ethical questions on an ad hoc basis.

5.4 The Society will respond to any factual inaccuracies, damaging remarks or reports affecting cellular and molecular life sciences.

D.6 Structure

6.1 The Society will support the development of the Regional Group structure.

E: International Relations

E.1 General

1.1 The Society will promote an international perspective in all its activities.

1.2 In all international activities, the Society will seek closer co-operation with related UK societies.

E.2 Liaison with International Bodies

2.1 The Society will continue to play a full part in the affairs of IUBMB and FEBS.

2.2 The Society will seek to improve the mechanism of representation on IUBMB through the Royal Society.

E.3 Liaison with Societies Abroad

3.1 The Society will foster joint meetings and activities with societies abroad.

3.2 The Society will explore the most useful forms of interaction with societies with political and/or financial difficulties.

F: Membership

F.1 General

1.1 The scientific criterion for membership of the Society is an interest in cellular and molecular life sciences.

1.2 The categories of membership include Honorary, Emeritus, Ordinary and Student as defined in the Society's Articles of Association.

1.3 The Executive Committee will determine membership benefits, apart from legal entitlements as a member of a company limited by guarantee (Memorandum and Articles of Association and general company law).

F.2 Recruitment

2.1 The Society will continue to recruit members in parallel with the initiatives being taken to promote an umbrella body for cellular and molecular life sciences,

F.3 Relations with Other Societies

3.1 The Society will seek joint membership arrangements with other societies.

The Biochemical Society,
59 Portland Place,
London W1B 1QW;
Tel: 020 7580 5530; Fax: 020 7637 3626;