GSA President Jeannie Lee announces a new Strategic Plan for GSA.

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When I became President earlier this year, I set out with two major goals in mind for the Society in 2018:  (1) To establish a new Strategic Plan that would map out a vibrant 5-10 year future for our community that includes scholarship, support for geneticists at all career stages, public engagement, and advocacy; and (2) to set us on a course for long-term fiscal sustainability in order to reach our ambitious goals.  

More than ever, science depends on teamwork. That extends to scientific societies — just like a lab, a Society is a collaborative effort that succeeds or fails on the hard work and ingenuity of its members. During my year as GSA President, I asked you all for help in setting new strategic directions. After all, it’s your Society. I couldn’t be more delighted at the response, which drew contributions from a huge number of participants, including strategic plan working groups, “Blue Sky” meeting participants, committee members, Board members, and staff, not to mention the thousands of you who responded to a plethora of community surveys. Following the Blue Sky meeting and analysis of the community surveys, we convened a number of Working Groups to study each of the “Strategic Pillars” created in response to the community’s participation and to make recommendations to the Board.

The Working Groups have done an outstanding job and I would like to give special recognition to each of the members, who provided creative ideas and showed spectacular commitment to the planning process. Listed below, these volunteers included many from our Early Career Scientist Committees, as well as Board members, GSA journal authors, conference attendees, and others from our community. These groups met remotely, discussed and researched their topics, and produced reports to support Board deliberations in record time. Thank you, and we hope to engage you all in the future plans that will grow from your suggestions.

Thanks in part to the Working Group reports and excellent ideas from the Blue Sky participants, our Board of Directors meeting last week was incredibly positive. We feel energized not only by the community support but by the big challenges we face and the even bigger possibilities in front of us. In this spirit, the Board ratified the eight Strategic Pillars upon which the Strategic Plan over the next 5–10 years will be built. These pillars both build on our existing strengths and align our efforts with aspirational goals for the future:

  • Support the  professional development of our members, including at early and mid-career stages, and across all sectors of the workforce
  • Advance science through scholarly peer review and high-quality publishing
  • Connect and encourage collaboration between scientists through hosting conferences
  • Foster a diverse and inclusive international community of scientists
  • Serve as an authoritative voice of the genetics community
  • Advocate for science and scientists, including informing the public and legislators about the value of research from the genetics community
  • Support the genetics community in engaging and communicating with the public
  • Ensure fiscal sustainability of the Society and its programs

Thus, I am happy to report that we have largely accomplished the goals for 2018. In 2019, we will begin to flesh out details of the Strategic Plan with more support from our deeply engaged community.  We have also identified a new approach for long-term fiscal sustainability in order to grow these Pillars, and have begun to implement the fundraising strategy that includes not only continued membership support but also sponsorship from industry and focused investors. The buzz around The Allied Genetics Conference in 2020 will be a focal point for our membership and the Board’s continued work on the Strategic Plan. I am enthusiastic about continuing to serve on the GSA Board and its Executive Committee in the coming year and look forward to working with the incoming President, Terry Magnuson, and Vice-President, Denise Montell. It has been an enormous pleasure for me to serve as President, and I want to thank each and every one of you for helping to shape an exciting future for the Society.  


Strategic Planning Working Groups:


Chair: Erika Matunis (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)

Lacy Barton (New York University)

Clement Chow (University of Utah)

Mete Civelek (University of Virginia)

Giovanna Collu (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

Martin Ferris (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Emily Lescak (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Victoria McGovern (Burroughs Wellcome Fund)

Jordan Ward (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Career Development

Chair: JoAnne Engebrecht (University of California, Davis)

Jeremy Berg (Columbia University)

Lex Flagel (Bayer Crop Science)

Rewatee Gokhale (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai)

Kayla Capper (23andMe)

Buck Samuel (Baylor College of Medicine)

Didem Sarikaya (University of California, Davis)

Community, Conferences, and Journals

Chair: Kirsten Bomblies (John Innes Centre)

Rebecca Burdine (Princeton University)

Tamara Caspary (Emory University)

Aleeza Gerstein (University of Manitoba)

Matthew Hahn (Indiana University)

Tim Mosca (Jefferson University)

Katie Peichel (University of Bern)

Faten Taki (Weill Cornell Medicine)

Rob Unckless (University of Kansas)

Fiscal Sustainability

Chair: Jef Boeke (NYU Langone Medical Center)

Kent Anderson (Redlink / Caldera Publishing Solutions)

Joe Heitman (Duke University)

Andrew Kern (University of Oregon)

Kevin Lee (Grace Science Foundation)

Hunt Willard (Geisinger National Precision Health)

Mariana Wolfner (Cornell University)

Public Communication and Engagement

Chair: Arash Bashirullah (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Mónica Feliú-Mójer (iBiology / CienciaPR)

Marnie Gelbart (Personal Genetics Education Project, Harvard Medical School)

Stephanie Mohr (DRSC/TRiP-FGR / Harvard University)

Damien O’Halloran (George Washington University)

Andreas Prokop (University of Manchester)

Cathy Savage-Dunn (City University of New York)

Ahna Skop (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Jessica Velez (University of Tennessee Knoxville/Oak Ridge National Laboratory)


Jeannie Lee is Immediate Past President of the Genetics Society of America. She is a Professor of Genetics and Pathology at Harvard Medical School and an HHMI Investigator. The views expressed in her "Frameshifts" posts are hers and are not necessarily endorsed by the Society.

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