One of the goals of Council and of President Carol Tamminga for 2004 is to develop a strategic plan for the College. In the spring of this year the Executive Committee interviewed a number of firms with experience in leading organizations like ours in this process. We selected as our facilitator Kermit Eide, a partner in Tecker Consultants. Kermit has extensive experience in working with non-profit associations, and has proven to be an excellent choice for the ACNP.
To help prepare for the strategic planning retreat, our facilitator conducted telephone interviews with a wide range of stakeholders from patient advocacy organizations, members who work in pharmaceutical companies, past presidents of the College, and officials within NIH. Council also invited several key committee chairs and past presidents to participate in the strategic planning retreat. All participants completed an extensive survey covering key assumptions and issues facing the College before coming together for a planning session on June 12-13 in Washington.
One outcome of the planning session was the development of a survey that was emailed to the College membership on July 8th. Please complete this survey right away. We will have one more working session in August, and it will be important to have the input of the membership at that session as we shape the final draft of this plan. We need your best thinking to develop the best outcome possible from this process.
Update on Neuropsychopharmacology
This has been a banner year for Neuropsychopharmacology, the official journal of the ACNP, capped by our recent receipt of the eagerly awaited ISI impact factor data and associated ranking of the journal for 2003. We are delighted to report that our 2003 impact factor is 5.201, a substantial increase from the previous year. This impact factor places Neuropsychopharmacology as 5th among 87 psychiatry journals, 23 of 198 neuroscience journals and 14 of 185 pharmacology and pharmacy journals. The high ranking of Neuropsychopharmacology is concordant with the impressions and feedback received from the ACNP membership and the Field Editors concerning the journal's trajectory. We have surpassed in the rankings several outstanding journals including the British Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Journal of Neurophysiology and the Journal of Neurochemistry. Why have we achieved such a rapid rise in these rankings? In addition to the very superb performance and perceived excellence of our publisher, Nature Publishing Group, we have largely accomplished our goal of increasing the balance between preclinical and clinical manuscripts, now publish color figures both within the journal and on its cover, and have substantially reduced the time from submission to editorial decision and from editorial decision to both on-line and print publication. Our acceptance rate continues to fall, indicating an increasingly higher "bar" for publication in our journal.
At the Editorial Board meeting at the ACNP annual meeting and at both of the Field Editors meetings held in the last several months, a number of important issues were discussed, many raised by the Journal Task Force chaired by Alan Frazer, convened by the previous president, Dennis Charney and ACNP Council. These included addressing issues of financial conflict of interest of the editors, reviewers and authors, and we have substantially revised the manuscript submission process as well as the review process in response to these recommendations. These changes are reflected in changes in the on-line forms for manuscript submission and manuscript review. Virtually all of the recommendations of the task force have been adopted or are in the process of being adopted. The Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief regularly monitors these processes.
On another exciting note, this year's meeting abstracts will appear in a supplement of Neuropsychopharmacology, available by the time of the Annual Meeting, and they will therefore, for the first time, be archival. We must all keep this change in mind because it will require considerably more forethought as to what we include in the abstracts. One new task assigned to a subgroup of the program committee will be a more rigorous review of the submitted abstracts.We shall surely not rest on our laurels. We still strive to further increase our rankings in the years to come, continue to publish one supplement per year and maintain the preclinical/clinical balance. I want to especially thank our Managing Editor, Jen Mahar, the Assistant Managing Editor in my office, Janice Sheikh, and Ronnie Wilkins, Executive Director of the ACNP, who works closely with the journal, and both the Field Editors who donate countless hours to Neuropsychopharmacology, and to the members of the Editorial Board. Finally, we are grateful to the members of the ACNP who have supported the journal by submitting their best research, both preclinical and clinical, for publication. As always, we would welcome your constructive input to the journal.
ACNP Congressional Education Day 2004
ACNP's Congressional Education Day began with an Orientation Session (April 21st) the evening before, to brief the ACNP participants on their interactions with Congress and to outline and discuss the message we would be taking to the Hill the next day, in order that ACNP could speak with a single voice. Our message to the Congress was simple and direct. First, to thank the Congress for doubling the NIH budget during the last five years, but also not to forget the NIH in this year's (FY2004-05) Appropriations by supporting the Ad Hoc Biomedical Research Group's recommendation of a 10% increase for NIH. Second, to emphasize the need for mental health parity and to urge the support of the Bill to provide equal coverage of mental health benefits comparable to those for medical and surgical disorders. Third, to underscore the need for the scientific peer review process at the NIH, which had been questioned recently by some Members of Congress.
The next day, the ACNP Congressional Education "teams", many of them accompanied by mental health advocates, visited over 80 Congressional offices on the Hill carrying our message and discussing its implications for millions of U.S. citizens with mental and/or additive disorders. The reception we received was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. The feedback from ACNP members after the event indicated it was a very interesting, stimulating and positive experience for the ACNP members who participated. Dr. Myrna Weissman said, ". . . it was a very interesting day and I was glad to have participated and would be happy to participate again." Dr. Lew Baxter and other participants indicated a similar experience. This year's effort served as a "pilot" event, but was so successful that we plan to recommend to Council that we hold another ACNP Congressional Education Day during next year's Appropriations process. It is hoped that next year's event will be broadly supported by the ACNP members, especially those in key states and Congressional districts central to the appropriation process.
ACNP Joins the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) in Supporting Stem Cell Research
ACNP recently joined with other prestigious medical researchers, scientific societies and patient organizations to become a member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR). CAMR members are leading a campaign to increase access to federal funds for stem cell research. In August 2001, President Bush limited federal funding for stem cell research to some 70 stem cell lines that had already been established saying, "They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research." It has since been determined the lines are more severely limited and not racially or genetically diverse. In addition, researchers maintain, these lines may be contaminated by the way they were cultivated using mouse "feeder" cells.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan has entered the debate, ratcheting up interest on both sides of Congress and on both sides of the aisle. With the passing of former President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan has become more vocal in her support for the research that many believe will help cure the disease that took President Reagan's last years and ultimately, his life.
In April of this year, over 200 members of Congress sent a letter urging President Bush to revise the limits imposed on public funding of embryonic stem cell research. Reps. Michael Castle (R-DE), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), and Calvin Dooley (D-CA), led the effort to gather signatures of both Democrats and Republicans. In the Senate, Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), led an effort similar to the House, gathering 58 signatures on its letter to the White House.
Most recently, ACNP signed a letter with 141 other patient advocates and research groups asking the President to expand the restrictive policy. The release of this letter coincided with the introduction of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 4682). The measure, introduced by Reps. Castle and DeGette, would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund research on embryonic stem cell lines derived after August 9, 2001, the previous cutoff date established for federal funding. The measure would permit research using only those embryos originally created for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment with donation approved by the embryo donor. Federal funds would not be used to derive human embryonic stem cells or destroy embryos.
As recently as May 2004, NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni said, "We still do not know with certainty what we will or will not be able to accomplish with 19 lines or 23 lines or more. . .it is also fair to say that from a purely scientific perspective more cell lines may well speed some areas of [human embryonic stem cell] research."
The legislative year is quickly winding down and legislation outside of the must-pass spending bills has limited chance of floor debate. However, ACNP's effort within CAMR is helping to gather support and raise awareness about this type of research.
Next week we will be sending an email to the membership on behalf of the Ethics Committee regarding our current Principles of Professional Conduct. It's time for the membership to review and update, if needed, this important document. When you receive the email, please respond with your comments.
The Secretariat has lost contact with two of our members: Barry Blackwell and Joseph Lipinski, Jr. Please contact the Secretariat if you have current coordinates for either member. Thanks.
The ACNP, through the Education and Training Committee, has made discretionary funds up to $5000 per year available for public outreach initiatives in neuropsychopharmacology. For details click on the Awards and Fellowship tab at www.acnp.org . The deadline is AUGUST 1.
The poster abstract submission site opened on JUNE 2. Poster abstracts are due online on AUGUST 16 . Please go to www.acnp.org and click on Annual Meeting then poster abstract submission to submit your poster abstract. Paper abstract submission (via email) are due AUGUST 9 .
Membership applications are due SEPTEMBER 1 . Please go to www.acnp.org for the online version or call the Secretariat for an application to be sent to you.
The Annual Meeting registration packet was mailed to the membership in mid-June. If you haven't already completed your meeting registration and hotel forms, do it soon. The deadline for early registration is NOVEMBER 19 . The deadline for reserving a room at the convention rate is NOVEMBER 5 .December 12-16