Associate Members

2016 Career Development Session

Shelly Flagel, ACNP Membership Advisory Task Force member

The Membership Advisory Task Force was pleased to sponsor its sixth Career Development Session at the 2016 ACNP meeting. This year the chosen topic - “Negotiation for Early-Career Scientists: A View from Both Sides” - coincided with that of the Women’s Luncheon. We were fortunate to have Dr. Andrea Kupfer Schneider, the invited speaker for the Women’s Luncheon and a Professor of Law and Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program at Marquette University serve as a member of the panel. Accompanying Dr. Kupfer Schneider on the panel were Drs. Vaishali Bakshi, Deanna Barch, George Koob and David Lewis. Thus, in addition to Dr. Kupfer Schneider’s expertise, there was a wide representation in terms of career stage, leadership positions and scientific specialties. The session was moderated by Dr. Shelly Flagel and was extremely well-attended, resulting in standing room only shortly after it started. By a show of hands, it appeared as though most attendees were indeed in the early stages of their career in hopes of landing their first faculty position in the coming years, and primarily PhD’s or MD/PhD’s at academic institutions. Following a brief introduction by the panelists, Dr. Flagel led the discussion with specific questions or topics that were submitted by the attendees prior to the meeting. One of the overarching questions was, “What constitutes a ‘supportive’ environment or department?” This led to the topic of what to look for in a department and subsequently what to ask for when you start negotiating for a position. Hearing the perspective of Drs. Lewis and Barch, both Department Chairs, was especially helpful, as we learned that, while it is important to know what a good starting place is for negotiations, there are no hard and fast rules and everything is on a case-by-case basis. We also heard about some of the “behind-the-scenes” issues that may come into play that the applicant may not be aware of. In addition, Dr. Kupfer Schneider had some wonderful words of wisdom in terms of how to broach complex topics with your Department Chair and how to be successful and “win” these difficult conversations. Dr. Bakshi provided insight regarding the different tracks (e.g. research track vs. clinical track) and we discussed some issues that may arise if you are a basic scientist in a clinical department. Likewise, the topic of protected research time for MD/PhD’s came up. Perhaps not surprisingly, the conversation at one point centered around funding, and Dr. Koob’s input was especially helpful regarding the different funding opportunities and success rates for young investigators and career development awards. Other topics that were discussed included the transition to independence and time management during the early stages of your career. In sum, this was another lively and informative Career Development Panel and bridging the topic with the Women’s Luncheon seemed to work well.

Interview with Barry Everitt, Council Member

Scott Schobel, ACNP Membership Advisory Task Force member

Q: How did you join council? 
A: I initially attended ACNP meetings as a guest and speaker and was subsequently elected as a foreign corresponding member, a category that no longer exists.  Although I volunteered to join committees, members in my category were not in fact eligible to do so. Then three years ago, I received an email asking if I would stand for election to Council; I said yes and was elected – I think as the first member of Council from outside the US, which is an honor.  

Q: What does council do?
A:  It’s the governing body of ACNP and does much of its work through its standing committees (for example, programme, membership, publications, nominations and liaison, which deals with advocacy issues).  It also establishes Task Forces to deal with specific issues such as diversity in the membership.  Overall it works strategically to ensure the present and future strength of the College, which depends on secure finances – a major area of responsibility for Council - through holding exceptional annual scientific meetings, electing exceptional scientists as members, supporting education and training and advocating for the field on the Hill, a very important role. It also spends a lot of time discussing future venues for the meeting (some of us long to return to San Juan!).

Q: Do you believe that council’s influences or role are misunderstood?
A: Possibly, but I’m not sure why. Some feedback suggests that Council might be detached from the needs of members, perhaps especially young members.  But in my experience Council works hard to meet the needs of members of the College.  This task will never be finished of course.
If there is some misunderstanding, it may reflect the natural evolution from the smaller College it was to the vibrant, much larger College that it is now.  Contemporary science requires rapid change in the way the ACNP operates and my feeling is that it does so transparently and pretty well.

Q:  Have you had an accomplishment that you are most proud of during your tenure on council?
A:  I don’t think there are eureka moments like that.  You’re only a member of Council for 3 years and become a part of ongoing, as well as new, decision-making processes. Just in my brief time I think there has been considerable progress on gender diversity in the College and at its meetings, but that will be a work in progress for some time to come.  ACNP is fortunate to have an exceptional Executive office and they are the individuals who ensure continuity and effect Council decisions.

Q:  Where do you see the college going?  Is there something that needs to be changed?
A:  I think the big challenge for the College and therefore for the Council, is to keep neuropsychopharmacology as a discipline up front and central.  Regrettably we are at a very difficult moment for the field. We have great science giving us many leads about disease mechanisms and new treatment targets that should enable new medicines, for which there is tremendous unmet need. Yet few pharmaceutical companies are in the business of trying to develop new medications for psychiatric disorders – and it is a very expensive, high-risk undertaking.  I think that’s worrying.  
While it is right that exciting developments in genetics, functional and connectionist imaging, with powerful optogenetic and chemogenetic tools enabling us to understand behavioural and cognitive processes, this has perhaps led to a feeling that neuropsychopharmacology is an approach whose time has past.  I don’t think that’s right and there is enormous potential for bringing new, and re-purposing ‘old’, medications to the clinic, especially in the emerging era of personalized medicine. 

Q: So do you think the college might help this state of play?
A: I think it can and it will, by showcasing outstanding science at its meetings, encouraging debate and dialogue, emphasizing the astonishing advances being made and using them to advocate for investment in the treatment of psychiatric illness – both by government and the pharmaceutical industry. I do think the College has a responsibility to do this and I am confident it will. 

Interview with Antonello Bonci, Council Member

Ryan Bachtell, ACNP Membership Advisory Task Force member

Q: How did you join council?
A: The process was really very simple. I have been at ACNP every year with one exception for the last 10 years or so. I really believe in what ACNP is trying to do. So people saw that I was very committed to being part of committees, to be part of the ACNP through my science, through my presence as a member doing whatever I was asked to do. At some point, a friend of mine suggested that I run for Council. So I threw my name in and I was pleasantly surprised that people voted for me.

Q: What does Council do?
A: A variety of things. We have feedback from the other committees; the program committee,membership committee, the diversity committee and so on. Those committees have questions for us. They come to us to discuss issues. And, we have joint meetings from time to time. We also keep a very close eye on the finances, of course. Anymatter that comes up from members from any corner of ACNP comes up to Council and we discuss them. We try to find solutions. People may want to develop something new through ACNP. Sometimes people may want to create an award, discuss new ideas or initiatives. Other times people have issues with one matter or another. Basically, anything that has to be solved or any opportunity to make ACNP stronger, it comes to council at the end of the day.

Q: Give me your thoughts on what council might achieve during your tenure?
A: The priorities are always the same and we are continuing to work on them because they are still unsolved. The priorities are: How do we balance gender and ethnicity in the best way? How do we do we create the best opportunities for minorities to increase diversity? How do we get the best scientists to stay and to be active members of ACNP? How do we get junior scientists to join ACNP? How do we get clinicians to talk to basic scientists? How do we get the best translational science through ACNP? How do we represent the non-academic institutions that are doing science? There are many that are extremely important, from pharma to biotech to private companies. How to balance the portfolio of science which is so different and make them feel represented and a part of ACNP?

Q: How do you think council’s activities or influence may be misunderstood?
A: I don’t know what may be misunderstood. I see myself as a voice for the members. I can bring any issue to the table. Anyone can bring any issue to the table at Council. The idea that I see from non-members, is that ACNP is a relatively elite group, for lack of a better word. We are elite in a sense of quality. Absolutely, yes. We want to privilege the best scientists from every corner. But, it does not mean that we do not allow people to come in. The number of new slots is relatively small and we constantly obsess about quality of science from wherever it comes. So, I don’t know if there is an easy solution because we don’t want ACNP to become a 30,000 person meeting. That’s impossible. Quality is the ultimate goal. Quality and balance, to increase diversity.
 
Q: How have you seen the College change over the years and what direction do you see the College moving toward in the future?
A: The college has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The amount of basic science that is represented and the amount of basic scientists that are members now, I think, has significantly increased. Their science is more and more predominant and it is driving a lot of the clinical science. What I see now, because of all of these amazing new basic science techniques, the clinicians are changing in a sense that we see more and more of a mix of traditional clinical science based on medication and testing to now a more scientific based proof of concept ideas and implementation. So ideas that are stemming from genetic and molecular techniques such as optogenetics and DREADD are being translated into the clinic through very promising techniques such transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain stimulation. Overall, I think there is greater interaction between basic science and clinicians that allows for these non-traditional medication clinical approaches. My prediction is that we will see more and more of that interface. 

 

2016 Associate Members

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