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|Elisabeth Busch-Nentwich 2018 Election Statement|
Associate PI at Department of Medicine
I have been a member of the zebrafish community for nearly twenty years, took part in one of the forward genetic screens in Tübingen during my PhD and was co-project leader of the Zebrafish Mutation Project at the Sanger Institute. During this time the zebrafish field expanded its focus from early embryonic development to the incredibly diverse research we do today and it has been fascinating to witness and contribute to the changes through the years. In addition to collaborations I have interacted with many zebrafish labs across the world by sharing mutant alleles (in the beginning directly from the Sanger Institute, now via the stock centres ZIRC and EZRC) and providing training in sperm freezing, IVF, mutant mapping etc. I regularly review manuscripts and grants. A substantial part of my work is with clinicians who are keen to develop zebrafish models for their genes of interest. My own interest is in functional genomics and to extend our community spirit of sharing reagents to genomics data. To increase visibility of zebrafish in the wider genomics field, I work closely with Ensembl and Expression Atlas to make our data accessible and useful beyond publication. I regularly give talks to students about the value of model organisms and have engaged with the media to promote zebrafish research.
During my time doing zebrafish research I have benefited immensely from being part of our great community, so I’d be delighted to have the opportunity to serve as Secretary of the IZFS.
I see the role of the IZFS two-fold: Firstly, within the zebrafish community it serves to foster and instigate international collaborations, develop long-term strategies, organise training and provide support and mentoring for young scientists. One aspect I would like to develop further is centralised information and/or workshops for new or aspiring PIs regarding funding and collaboration opportunities. Secondly, looking outwards, the IZFS is crucial for promoting awareness of the importance of model organisms in fundamental and translational research. We and other model organism communities are under increasing pressure to justify our work in the light of funding constraints. It is therefore paramount that we raise visibility of our achievements not only in the general public, but among other biomedical research communities. Due to my work at the Sanger Institute and collaboration with groups at the European Bioinformatics Institute I am aware of efforts to create cross-species platforms not only for genomic, but also phenotypic data. Taking an active approach to populating these databases that are used by clinicians, human geneticists etc. is a great way to disseminate and promote the insights we have generated as a community in addition to “zebrafish papers.”
Finally, I am a member of all three zebrafish societies (IZFS, EuFishBioMed, ZDMS) and would like to use this to promote close interactions between the societies towards these goals.