Understanding the Brain

American Society for Neurochemistry

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The American Society for Neurochemistry (ASN) is a professional society for neurochemists and neuroscientists from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, whose research concerns the role and interactions of small molecules (proteins, peptides, nucleic acids, lipids, sugars) in the development, growth, function, and pathology of the nervous system.


The ASN was founded in 1969. The organizing committee that founded the ASN consisted of 12 scientists, namely Jordi Folch-Pi, Guy McKhann, Francis LeBaron, Bernard Agranoff, Donald B. Tower, E. Martin Gal, Semour S. Kety, Abel Lajtha, Henry S. Mahler, Eugene Roberts, Wallace W. Tourtellotte, and Frederick J. Wolfgram. The first President of ASN was Dr Tower; Dr Folch-Pi was the 2nd President. The current president (2011–2013) is Steve Levison (UMDNJ-NJMS in Newark, New Jersey). The current president elect (2013-2015) is Tika Benveniste at University of Alabama in Birmingham.

The ASN was incorporated August 5, 1969 [1], and is guided by a set of Bylaws and Standing Rules which incorporate amendments to the bylaws [2]. These guidelines, and other aspects of running and maintaining the society are carried out by the officers and council members [3]; who are assisted by a number of Standing Committees [4]. The history and archives of ASN have been organized by several current and former ASN members[5], as well as the list of past and current officers and council members [6]

The roots of neurochemistry are being documented by several current ASN members. A brief biography of Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin was recently published in the newsletter of the International Society for Neurochemistry, a sister society of ASN; future articles will cover the lives of the founders of neurochemistry, including Thudicum, Magendie, and others.

Mission statement

  1. To advance and promote cellular and molecular neuroscience knowledge.
  2. To advance, promote, support, encourage and facilitate communication among investigators in neurochemistry and related neurosciences.
  3. To promote, support, encourage and facilitate the dissemination of information concerning neurochemical research through scientific meetings, seminars, publications and related activities.
  4. To promote, support and encourage the research of individual cellular and molecular neuroscientists and to engage in any and all other activities for the advancement of the science of neurochemistry which may be deemed advisable.
  5. To insure that all of its activities remain open to the full participation of scholars of all backgrounds and nationalities.

Annual meeting

Annual meetings[7] include plenary lectures, symposia, colloquia and workshops over the course of 4 days. The scientific program of the meetings are designed to address the four major themes of the Society:

Activated Astrocytes in Cortex of TgAPP mouse
Cultured Astrocyte. Green shows staining for GFAP
  1. Building the Nervous System.
  2. Glial Cell Biology.
  3. Metabolism and Cell & Molecular Neurobiology
  4. Neurodegeneration and Disease.

Substantial time is allotted throughout the meeting for scientific discussions both formally and informally. Short oral presentations are selected from the submitted abstracts, along with daily poster sessions. Special efforts are taken to encourage young investigator participation. For instance, the Society sponsors a dinner for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students to enable them to establish stronger relationships with their peers. The Society also subsidizes lunches with the plenary speakers. Numerous travel awards are available for fellows and junior faculty, and young investigators are encouraged to submit and chair or co-chair scientific sessions for the annual meeting.

The first annual ASN meeting was held March 16–18, 1970 in Albuquerque, NM. The 42nd meeting took place in St Louis, MO March 19-23rd 2011. Future meetings are scheduled for Baltimore, MD in 2012.

In addition to the scientific contect, there are several events were that reach out to local students and public. This includes a visit from local high school students to introduce them to neuroscience research; and a Public Forum that is open to the general public and addresses a current health concern. The ASN also hosts an image competition "Science in Nature" where attendees can submit representative art of their research interests. Images are judged for scientific as well as artistic merit, and winning images incorporated into a yearly calendar.

Every 6 years the ASN helps organize a joint meeting with the International Society for Neurochemistry; in 2007 the joint meeting was scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico but was canceled due to Hurricane Dean. The next joint meeting will take place in 2013 and Cancun has been selected as the venue, but at an earlier time of the year during pre-hurricane season.


File:TH positive neurons.jpg
Primary neurons isolated from the Substantia Nigra stained for Tyrosine Hydroxylase (green), nuclei (blue), and doublecortin (red)

The ASN publishes the textbook Basic Neurochemistry used worldwide by undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate students and instructors. The founding editor was George Siegel, and the current chief editor is Scott Brady. Basic Neurochemistry in currently in its 7th edition, and the 8th edition is scheduled for release in November of 2011.

The ASN launched a new Open Access online journal titled ASN NEURO [8] at the 40th annual meeting which took place in March of 2009. ASN NEURO is published by Portland Press, and will further the ASN missions to advance, promote, support, encourage and facilitate communication among cellular and molecular neuroscientists. The founding editor is Anthony Campagnoni, currently at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). After 2 years the journal has done extremely well having been accepted for indexing into PubMed after 2 issues, and with several papers receiving special recognition in Faculty1000 as well as in local and national news reports. ASN NEURO received an impact factor from the Institute for Scientific Information(ISI) of 3.8 in June 2011 which reflects citations in 2009 and 2010 to papers published in 2009.


The Jordi Folch-Pi Award is given to an outstanding young investigator who has demonstrated a high level of research competence and originality, who has significantly advanced our knowledge of neurochemistry and who shows a high degree of potential for future accomplishments. Dr Jordi Folch-Pi[9], one of the founders of ASN, is known for his discovery of mild methods to extract biological lipids and for the discovery of myelin proteolipid protein. A full list of past awardees can be found here [10]

The Marian Kies Memorial Award is given to a junior scientist for outstanding research conducted during graduate training. Dr Kies[11] devoted energy and enthusiasm to the development of young scientists, and is known for her work on myelin basic protein and studies in animal models of multiple sclerosis. A full list of past awardees can be found here [12]

The Bernard Haber Award recognizes an individual whose leadership skills have fostered collaborations among the world's neuroscientists. Dr Haber[13] was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, and developed strong relationships between ASN and the International Society for Neurochemistry.

The ASN offers Young Investigator Educational Enhancement (YIEE) awards for graduate students in their last year of studies and who reside in the Americas to travel to the annual meeting. Beginning at the 2010 meeting, one YIEE awardee will be selected to receive the new ASN NEURO travel award.

ASN also offers Young Latin American Award scholarships for young neuroscientists from Latin American countries. These awards subsidize travel expenses to attend the Annual Meeting, along with a short visit to an established neuroscience laboratory in North America.

See also


  1. ASN Articles of Incorporation
  2. ASN Bylaws and Standing Rule
  3. Current ASN Officers and Council Members
  4. ASN Standing Committees
  5. ASN History and Archives page
  6. Past ASN officers and council members
  7. List of ASN annual meetings
  8. ASN Neuro home page
  9. Jordi Folch-Pi Biography
  10. Jordi Folch-Pi Awardees
  11. Marian Kies Biography
  12. Marian Kies Awardees
  13. Bernard Haber Biography

External links