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Welcome to volume four of the International Zebrafish Society (IZFS) “News Splash” newsletter! We hope that these newsletters are keeping you better informed about the goings-on in the International Zebrafish Society and the wider zebrafish community. For those of you who missed it, our September newsletter included information on the IZFS election, detailed reports on important zebrafish conferences and courses, highlights from the IZFS Streisinger and Chi-Bin Chien awards, as well as our regular “Fish & Chips,” “In Case You Missed It,” “Meet the IZFS Members,” and “Fish Tales” columns. A lot has happened since September, and our latest issue includes a large compendium of new and useful information for our members. As you can see from the newsletter “masthead,” the number of individuals involved in producing this newsletter continues to grow, and we encourage you to participate. We welcome newsletter contributions and assistance from members at all levels – established investigators, new investigators, trainees, or research staff. If you would like to join our editorial board and become an IZFS Associate Editor, please contact our editor, Rebecca 'Becky' Burdine. We also welcome one-time or occasional contributors. Please contact Becky if you are attending a meeting and would like to provide a summary, or if you have a piece to propose. And yes, there are some additional perks in addition to the glory of being able to add “Associate Editor, International Zebrafish Society” to your curriculum vitae! Contact Becky for more information on this as well.


Photo courtesy of Anand Chandrasekhar.

Stephen L. Johnson (1960 - 2017).  It is with tremendous personal sadness that I note the recent death of Steve Johnson, a great colleague and a great friend to many, many members of our community.  I first met Steve years ago when I was a postdoc in Mark Fishman’s lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  I had travelled to the University of Oregon to learn blastomere transplantation from “the experts,” and Steve and his cats generously let me stay in their house during my visit to Eugene.  My brief stay with Steve was long enough for me to discover that he was (1) extremely opinionated, (2) extremely smart, and (3) extremely generous and considerate.  We remained friends in the years after, and if I needed someone to have a high-level genetics discussion with, Steve was my go-to guy.  Our next newsletter issue will feature a longer remembrance of Steve from some of those who were his closest colleagues and friends, but in the meantime you can find a very brief article discussing Steve’s contributions and legacy and a “blog” site where you can leave you own personal recollections or comments here.

The IZFS cyber-attack. The International Zebrafish Society and Association Resources, the firm handling its management, were recently the target of a cyber-attack. Association Resources received email requests for funds transfers from someone pretending to be the IZFS president (me) using “spoofed” emails, hacked websites, and faked invoices. Several transfers were made from the IZFS bank account to unknown persons before the “scam” was discovered. Once the scam was discovered, the police, FBI, insurance companies, and banks were notified, and a portion of the IZFS funds were recovered. Association Resources is assuring restitution of the remaining funds owed to the IZFS in their entirety by January 1, 2018, and they have put new financial control measures in place to ensure that a repeat of this event does not take place

Although the entire episode was unpleasant for both IZFS officers and Association Resources management staff, and it highlighted financial control measures that required additional strengthening, the cyber scam had no effect on IZFS operations, and as noted above all lost funds are being fully restored to the IZFS. As we all know, the internet has become a much more dangerous place in recent years, with a near-constant barrage of “phishing” attempts from cyber criminals. We’ve all received the “please click here to confirm your email account,” “I want to give you a million dollars,” and etc. emails. As it turns out, attacks targeting professional societies and associations are also becoming more common. We can assure our members that this danger is being taken very seriously by the IZFS management and officers, and that we are working hard to keep the IZFS well-protected from cyber criminals.

The 2018 “Madison Meeting.” After detouring briefly to Orlando in 2016 as part of the combined TAGC GSA model organism meeting, the “big fish meeting” is returning to its long-time home in Madison, Wisconsin on June 20-24, 2018. Preparations are underway to make the 2018 International Zebrafish Conference the most exciting and information-packed zebrafish meeting ever. As noted previously, the name of the conference has been changed from “International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics” to “International Zebrafish Conference” to reflect the wider scope of scientific activities taking place in the worldwide zebrafish research community. But, no worries, it’s the same “Madison Meeting” we have all come to know so well and love. The 2018 meeting will be held in the newly (and beautifully) renovated Memorial Union of the University of Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Mendota. The conference will include two keynote presentations and numerous plenary, concurrent, workshop, and poster sessions highlighting the latest zebrafish research advances and informing participants about the newest cutting-edge zebrafish research tools and technologies. The meeting will also include a lakeside barbecue picnic lunch and a final banquet with an after-party in the Wisconsin “Badger Den” (“Sett”) nightclub featuring a live band, and the signature dance moves zebrafish investigators are known for! Additional information on the 2018 meeting, including organizers, keynote speakers, preliminary session topics, and other information can be found in the article in this newsletter and on the conference website.

We look forward to seeing you in Madison in June 2018!

Meeting Reports. This “News Splash” issue continues our tradition of keeping you informed about interesting, entertaining, and informative meetings, conferences, and courses. If you were not able to attend these events yourself, the IZFS wants you to hear about some of what you missed! This latest newsletter volume includes in-depth reports on the 2017 Zebrafish Development and Genetics course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, the Fall 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Zebrafish Meeting at NYU in New York City, the 2017 International Workshop on Zebrafish Neural Circuits and Behavior in Bethesda, Maryland, and the 2017 Cancer Workshop. We hope that you find our articles reporting on these events interesting and enlightening.

This newsletter volume also includes an article on a workshop sponsored by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) held September 11-12, 2017, entitled “Zebrafish and other aquatic models: Reporting of environmental husbandry conditions for rigorous experiments and reproducible results.” This workshop was organized to explore what sorts of husbandry and environmental parameters ought to be recorded by laboratories and reported in publications and grants. I’d encourage everyone to take a look at this article and the associated agenda and linked presentations, and provide some comments to the workshop organizers. The guidelines that are eventually formulated could have a significant impact on what we all report and how we do it.

If you are affiliated with any upcoming meetings or other events that you would like to see featured in one of our future newsletters, please let News Splash editor Becky Burdine know about it! We are also happy to add notices about upcoming meetings of interest to our members to the IZFS “Community Calendar.”

IZFS Awards. Our last newsletter issue featured articles on the 2017 recipients of the two premier awards for zebrafish investigators, the Chi-Bin Chien Award and the George Streisinger Award. The Chi-Bin Chien Award was presented to Dr. Marc Wolman of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The George Streisinger Award will be given to Dr. Christiane “Janni” Nüsslein-Volhard of the Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany, at the European Zebrafish PI Meeting in Trento, Italy March 20-23, 2018. Congratulations once again Marc and Janni! The IZFS will soon begin accepting nominations for the 2018 recipients of these two prestigious awards. Please see the linked IZFS award web pages for information and selection criteria and nomination procedures for the Chi-Bin Chien and George Streisinger awards.

I would also note again that in addition to these two yearly “flagship” awards the IZFS gives out numerous travel, poster, and other awards to recognize the achievements of its members at all career levels, and to facilitate their attendance at IZFS-sponsored meetings. Encourage your colleagues to sign up for IZFS membership and take advantage of these benefits!

Morpholino Guidelines. This volume of the IZFS News Splash also includes an article by Rebecca Burdine discussing new “community guidelines” for morpholino use recently published in PLoS Genetics*. I suspect that there isn’t anyone in the zebrafish community who isn’t aware of the debate over the last several years regarding when and how to properly use morpholinos in zebrafish research. These new guidelines represent a “common sense consensus” document compiled after careful consideration by a broad-based and representative group of community leaders. Becky discusses these new guidelines and their implications in her newsletter piece. The full guidelines publication in PLoS Genetics is available here.


Meet the IZFS members. These regular newsletter features provide the answers to 20 questions posed to two IZFS members, giving you the opportunity to discover a little bit more about the interests and accomplishments of fellow IZFS members. In this newsletter we include responses from trainee IZFS member Pia Lundegaard and from investigator IZFS member Cecelia Moens.

Additional Newsletter Features. As noted above, a number of additional regular columns are featured in the IZFS News Splash , including “Fish & Chips” updates from ZIRC and ZFIN, “In Case You Missed It” highlights from the recent literature, “Fish Tales” pieces providing historical background on people and events that have shaped the growth of the zebrafish field, an “Ask Splash” advice column, and, most recently, a new “Community News” bulletin board that we encourage all of our members to contribute to.

Ask Splash” is the zebrafish community’s version of “Dear Abby,” providing feedback to members’ questions about zebrafish, research, graduate school, postdoctoral positions, job searching, surviving in academia, life outside academia, or anything else – just ask splash what you want to know! The “Community News” bulletin board is our new home for member announcements – if you know of researchers who have received awards, been recently hired, or tenured, newly minted postdocs, or etc., let your colleagues know about it!

Get involved! We hope that all of you will become actively involved in YOUR society. We need volunteers to serve as officers and board members, but there are also many additional ways for zebrafish researchers at all career levels (including graduate students and postdocs!) to become involved. Become an associate editor on the IZFS editorial board. Join the IZFS website committee and become an IZFS webmaster. Volunteer for the IZFS awards or nominations committees and help select IZFS awardees or prepare slates of nominees for officer and board member positions. Help with the IZFS’ public education and outreach activities. Numerous opportunities are available for you to help the IZFS serve the fish community, and I encourage you to get involved! Contact us if you can help!


Photo Credits:

  1. “Type 2 cybercrime.” Norton by Symantec, Symantec Corporation, 2016,
  2. Graphic designed by Amy L. Dickson, Poss Lab Manager, Duke University Medical Center.

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