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American Society for Microbiology

American Society for Microbiology

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is a scientific organization, based in the United States although with over 43,000 members throughout the world. It is the largest single life science professional organization and its members include those whose interests encompass basic and applied aspects of viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa as well as other aspects of microbiology. The society was created in 1899 and was called the Society of American Bacteriologists from 1899 until December 1960.

The mission of the American Society for Microbiology is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic wellbeing worldwide. To achieve these goals, ASM will:

  • Support programs of education, training and public information;
  • Publish journals and books; convene meetings, workshops and colloquia;
  • Promote the contributions and promise of the microbiological sciences;
  • Recognize achievement and distinction among its practitioners;
  • Set standards of ethical and professional behavior.



Eligibility to become a Full Member of the Society is open to any person who is interested in microbiology and holds at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in microbiology or a related field. Many members hold advanced degrees, including a large number at the master's, PhD, ScD, DrPH and MD level. A regularly matriculated student of microbiology or a related field is eligible to become a student member.


The Society is governed by a Council compromising elected officers, chairmen of its permanent boards and representatives from 27 scientific divisions and 35 local branches. A Council Policy Committee serves as Executive Committee for the Society. The American Academy of Microbiology and five permanent boards--Publications, Meetings, Membership, Education and Training, and Public and Scientific Affairs--act to meet the objectives of the ASM.

The current elected President is Dr. Clifford Houston ((University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston)); the President-Elect is Dr. Alison O'Brien (Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD); the Secretary of the Society is Dr. Joe Campos (Department of Laboratory Medicine, Washington, DC) and the Treasurer is Dr. Ronald Luftig (Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans).


The ASM runs two major meetings annually: the ASM General Meeting, which focuses on microbiology, and the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, known as ICAAC, one of the world's foremost meetings on infectious diseases. The society also holds the annual ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting and numerous smaller conferences devoted to specialized areas of research.

Through its SCOPE program the society helps organize and manage scientific meetings for external organizations such as the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases


The society publishes eleven academic journals, as well as a minireview collection of all journals.

  • Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
  • Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Clinical and Vaccine Immunology
  • Clinical Microbiology Reviews
  • Eukaryotic Cell
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Journal of Bacteriology
  • Journal of Clinical Microbiology
  • Journal of Virology
  • Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology

The society also publishes Microbe, a monthly news magazine for members as well as a full library of textbooks through its publishing arm ASM Press. A selection of articles from Microbe, Focus on Microbiology Education and Microbiology Education are available online via the MicrobeLibrary resource.

Public affairs

Through its Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) the society regularly monitors public policy, specifically the United States federal government and Congress and provides comment and testimony on issues that affect microbiology.


The Education Board’s mission is to promote access, excellence, professional development, and advancement in microbiology education, promote the community of microbiology students and educators, and lead in microbiology education worldwide.

The board provides support for both students and educators at all levels. Programs of the Education Board include the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students a four-day meeting designed to support minority involvement in biomedical and behavioral sciences, the ASM BioQUEST Bioinformatics Institute an annual program for faculty interested in implementing bioinformatics across a curriculum, the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators an annual conference of nearly 300 college biology faculty dedicated to educational excellence, the ASM Scholars-in-Residence Program and the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education a peer-reviewed publication about research in learning microbiology. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.

The Education Board offers a comprehensive website, ASMGAP, with resources for graduate students and post-doctoral scientists. MicrobeLibrary is an online publication of over 1500 peer-reviewed resources for undergraduate microbiology education.

American Academy of Microbiology

The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) is the honorific leadership group within the ASM. The AAM is the only group of its kind devoted entirely to microbiologists and the science of microbiology. Members of the AAM, are elected through a highly selective, annual, peer-reviewed process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.

The Academy regularly convenes colloquia for in-depth analysis of critical issues in microbiology and publishes scientifically well-founded reports that provide expert advice and practical recommendations.

The Academy administers ASM scientific achievement awards that honor important contributions to basic and applied research, microbiology education, and scientific and professional leadership.

The American College of Microbiology, located within the Academy, includes three boards dedicated to the professional certification of microbiologists.

International programs

Through its International Committee, the ASM conducts a number of activities designed to support microbiology research worldwide. The goals of the committee are to promote the microbiological sciences worldwide by providing a diverse array of educational programs and services, developing collaborative relationships with national, international, and umbrella scientific organizations worldwide, ensuring the growth of international membership by offering ASM products and services that meet member needs and building capacity of HIV/AIDS microbiological laboratories worldwide.

ASM International Programs include:

  • International Laboratory Capacity Building (LabCap)
  • ASM/Asia Tsunami Relief & Recovery Fund
  • ASM International Ambassadors Program
  • International Mentoring Program
  • Volunteer Translators Network
  • International Minicourses
  • Resource Clearinghouse
  • Global Outreach Program

Public education initiatives

Through its Communications Committee, the ASM operates a number of public outreach initiatives designed to educate the general public about the importance of microbiology to their daily lives and behaviors that can help improve public health.

The ASM's MicrobeWorldwebsite is ideal for learning more about microbiology in general. It includes information about microorganisms, microbiologists, current events and news, and links to resources.

ASM also produces the daily Microbeworld Radio show. MicrobeWorld produces 260 unique shows each year highlighting the process of discovery, historical changes in research, and a variety of scientific careers in industry, academia, and government. Each Radio feature includes an interview segment with a leading scientist in the field and is reviewed by a panel of scientists with expertise in a variety of research fields to ensure content accuracy. It is currently heard on more than 90 public and commercial radio stations in the United States and four times daily in more than 100 countries via Armed Forces Radio. It can also be found online as a podcast.

Since 1996, the ASM has conducted its Operation Clean Hands campaign to educate the public on the importance of handwashing to individual and public health. To help promote the campaign, every few years the Society conducts an independent survey of handwashing behaviors in public restrooms. The last survey, conducted in August 2005, found that while 91 percent of adults say they always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, only 83 percent were actually observed doing so.

The ASM Public Communications Award, sponsored by ASM, recognizes outstanding achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge and understanding of microbiology. Print and broadcast journalists are nominated for individual items and series they produce during the calendar year. Nominees are judged by a committee of their peers. The award consists of a $2,500 cash prize, a commemorative plaque, and travel expenses to attend the ASM General Meeting for presentation of the award.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "American_Society_for_Microbiology". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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