On July 1, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) welcomed its new President, Hudson H. Freeze, PhD. Dr. Freeze is Professor of Glycobiology and Director of the Human Genetics Program at the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla.
“I am honored to lead FASEB—the policy and advocacy voice of 125,000 scientists. Today, we have extraordinary opportunities to communicate with the most receptive Congress in 15 years. Our message has connected, we’ve turned a corner, but now it’s our responsibility to speak out even more strongly. We must advocate for research because we know it benefits all citizens in all districts,” Dr. Freeze said.
For the last 20 years, Freeze’s research has focused on the identification and understanding of Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDGs), genetic errors in the way sugars attach to proteins and lipids. He contributed to the discovery of 18 of the more than 110 known CDGs. Dr. Freeze collaborates closely with physicians, families, and their support organizations and regularly consults on cases while still tracking the genetic basis of multiple patients with unknown glycosylation defects.
Beginning with his postdoctoral work, Freeze has earned nearly 40 years of continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As FASEB President, he will lead initiatives to advocate for increased funding for NIH and other federal agencies that fund scientific research.
“The most important thing is to get it [funding] for NIH, which is the crown jewel of federal agencies,” Dr. Freeze told San Diego’s KUSI. “We hear a lot of talk about ‘Let’s make America great again,’ but, in fact, in medical research, we are great. What we have to do is sustain that,” said Freeze.
Among his priorities during his year as FASEB president is increasing communication with FASEB member societies. “One thing is fundamental: FASEB represents scientists. From postdocs to Society leaders, I want us to have an open dialog—scientist to scientist—about how FASEB can better serve its members and the scientific community,” Freeze said.
Prior to his election as President, Dr. Freeze served as FASEB’s Vice President for Science Policy. He is a Past President of the Society for Glycobiology and its first representative to the FASEB Board of Directors. Dr. Freeze is also a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and The American Society for Human Genetics.
In 2013, Dr. Freeze shared the Golden Goose Award with microbiologist Thomas Brock, PhD, for identifying Thermus aquaticus (Taq), an “extremophile” bacteria capable of thriving in extreme heat. Freeze was an undergraduate research assistant in 1966 when he and Brock found Taq in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. By identifying an organism with DNA machinery that could survive near-boiling temperatures, their discovery opened the door to the development of polymerase chain reaction and other technologies that would revolutionize biomedical research.
This introduction to science led Dr. Freeze to advocate tirelessly on behalf of basic research. “New cures for devastating diseases and exciting advances in medicine are all rooted in federally funded basic research,” Dr. Freeze wrote in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed after his Golden Goose win. “Today’s benefits came from yesterday’s investment. Tomorrow’s cures depend on today’s decisions.”
To help ensure that message gets national attention, he urges scientists to engage with public audiences as often as possible. To that end, Freeze worked with ASBMB to organize an exhibition of BioArt winning images in a brewery during the Experimental Biology meeting.
As President of FASEB, Freeze aims to ensure that policymakers hear the views of researchers and that researchers recognize those legislators who are champions for science. “Congressional leaders assured us that the $2billion increase for NIH funding in 2016 will not be a one hit wonder,” said Freeze. “Let’s help keep that pledge on track with continuing advocacy for greater investment in research. Go make a difference; we can make a difference,” he said.
FASEB is made up of 30 scientific member societies, representing over 125,000 researchers from around the world. ABRF is a member society of FASEB, and ABRF’s members receive the full benefits of FASEB membership.