American Society for Microbiology

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ASM Microbe 2016 meeting in Boston

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), originally the Society of American Bacteriologists, is a professional organization for scientists who study viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa as well as other aspects of microbiology. Founded in 1899, ASM has grown into the largest life science professional organization in the world. The Society publishes a variety of scientific journals, textbooks, and other educational materials related to microbiology and infectious diseases. Additionally, ASM organizes several large annual meetings, as well as workshops and professional development opportunities for its members.


ASM was founded in 1899 under the name the "Society of American Bacteriologists". In December 1960, it was renamed the "American Society for Microbiology."[1]


The mission of ASM is "to promote and advance the microbial science".[2] The society seeks to accomplish this mission through:

  • Providing platforms for disseminating scientific discoveries (i.e. books, journals, and conferences),
  • Building health systems and laboratory capacity around the world,
  • Organizing professional development and certification programs to advance the careers of its members,
  • Operating outreach programs in order to get young people interested in microbiology.[2]

ASM also operates the American College of Microbiology which administers certification programs for microbiologists and accredits postdoctoral training programs.[3]


ASM is based in the United States, and has 47,000 members throughout the world, one-third of whom live outside the United States. It is the largest life science professional organization in the world.[2] Membership is open to all, and is offered at a discounted rate to students, postdoctoral fellows, and emeritus faculty. Members pay dues to support the activities of ASM.[4]


The ASM governance has two major components. The main decision-making body is the ASM Council which serves as the Society's Board of Directors. The ASM council is made up of 88 members including elected officers, chairs of ASM permanent boards, and representatives from the various scientific divisions and local branches.

The second component is the Council Policy Committee or CPC which serves as the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. The CPC acts in place of the ASM Council when the Council is not convened. The CPC has 18 voting members: the ASM officers, the chairs of the six program boards, the chair of the American Academy of Microbiology and 6 at large members. Additionally, three standing committees report directly to the CPC: the Communications Committee, the Professional Practice Committee, and the ASM Press Committee.[5]

ASM also maintains six boards which focus on the society's major areas of interest. These boards are:

  • Education Board – educates and supports members by providing fellowships, workshops, and networking opportunities.
  • International Board – develops programs to support the global reach of ASM.
  • Meetings Board – organizes annual ASM meetings.
  • Membership Board – advertise benefits of membership and support professional development opportunities.
  • Public and Scientific Affairs Board – monitor legislation and regulations affecting microbiologists.
  • Journals Board – Oversee the publication of ASM's scientific journals.[5]


The ASM holds six large annual meetings. The largest, ASM Microbe, is a combination of what was formerly the ASM General Meeting and the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and includes a broad variety of microbiology topics. Other annual meetings cater to narrower audiences and include ASM Biothreats (formerly ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research) which focuses on biodefense and emerging diseases, the Clinical Virology Symposium which focuses on viral infections, the Conference on Drug Development to Meet the Challenge of Antimicrobial resistance which is held jointly by ASM and the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, the Conference for Undergraduate Educators which focuses on biology education at the undergraduate level, and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students which highlights research done by students from populations underrepresented in microbiology research. In addition to these regular meetings, ASM also holds numerous smaller conferences devoted to specialized areas of research.[6]


The society publishes eighteen academic journals, as well as a minireview collection of all journals.[7] The ASM journals are:

The society also publishes the monthly news magazine Microbe as well as a quarterly science and policy magazine called Cultures. Additionally, the society publishes a number of textbooks through its publishing arm ASM Press. Finally, ASM convenes periodic meetings on issues of importance, after which ASM publishes reports summarizing discussions at the meeting as well as conclusions reached.[8]

American Academy of Microbiology[edit]

The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) is the honorific leadership group within the ASM.[9] Members of the AAM, are elected through an annual peer-reviewed process based on their records of scientific achievements that have advanced microbiology. The academy administers ASM scientific achievement awards that honor important contributions to basic and applied research, microbiology education, and scientific and professional leadership.

International programs[edit]

Through its international board, the ASM conducts a number of activities designed to support microbiology research worldwide. The board aims to develop, sustain and promote the global activities of the ASM by providing a diverse array of educational programs and services, developing programs and services that enable ASM to understand and meet the needs of its international members, and building international laboratory capacity for all clinical microbiology in resource-limited countries.

ASM International Programs include:

  • International Grants and Fellowships
  • ASM International Laboratory Capacity Building (LabCap)
  • ASM International Ambassadors Program
  • ASM International Mentoring Program
  • ASM Volunteer Translators Network
  • ASM Global Outreach Program


ASM operates a number of public outreach initiatives designed to educate the general public about the importance of microbiology to their daily lives. One aspect of this outreach is the development of materials for teaching microbiology topics in school classrooms.[10]

ASM produces several podcasts for a general audience under the label MicrobeWorld. These include This Week in Microbiology, This Week in Virology, This Week in Parasitism, and This Week in Evolution hosted by Vincent Racaniello which focus on a scientific paper, topic, or person from the previous week. MicrobeWorld Video is ASM's monthly video podcast which focuses each month on a microbiology topic or scientist. Microbe Magazine Podcast is hosted by Jeff Cox and highlights an article from the current issue of Microbe Magazine. Mundo de los Microbios hosted by Gary Toranzos is ASM's weekly Spanish-language podcast. BacterioFiles hosted by Jesse Noar is a weekly podcast focusing on prokaryotes. Meet the Scientist was a biweekly podcast from 2008-2010 hosted by Merry Buckley and Carl Zimmer which focused on interviewing a scientist each episode.[11]

ASM also publishes a number of blogs beginning in 2006 with Small Things Considered by Moselio Schaechter, a microbiologist and former president of the ASM. ASM has since expanded to eight blogs: bLog Phase, Zika Diaries, Around the World, mBiosphere, as well as the ASM Careers blog, Microbial Sciences blog, and Education blog.[12]

The ASM Public Communications Award, sponsored by ASM, recognizes outstanding achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge and understanding of microbiology. Print, broadcast and online journalists are nominated for individual items and series they produce during the calendar year. Applicants may nominate themselves. 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Timeline of the Society". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Who We Are". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  3. ^ "American College of Microbiology". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Membership". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Leadership and Staff". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  6. ^ "ASM Meetings & Conferences". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  7. ^ "ASM Journals". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Colloquia Report". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  9. ^ "American Academy of Microbiology". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Tools in the Classroom". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Podcasts & Videos". Microbe World. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  12. ^ "ASM Blogs". American Society for Microbiology. Retrieved 2 October 2016.

External links[edit]