The Biochemical Society: broadening participation in molecular biosciences

In this series, FEBS Constituent Societies provide insight into their initiatives and achievements on a particular theme – with a view to sharing ideas and experiences among learned societies, and for general interest.
The Biochemical Society: broadening participation in molecular biosciences

The Biochemical Society was established in 1911 and is the largest UK single-discipline learned society in the biosciences. Its mission is to support the dissemination and advancement of science, delivering opportunities to share knowledge and expertise, critically discuss ideas and provide forums in which to gather together and collaborate.

The Society is in a new phase of its strategy for the period 2019–2021. Key strands include supporting early-career bioscientists, extending international links, and providing professional development and lifelong learning opportunities through a range of training and career events, publishing activities and educational resources.

A particular area of focus within the strategy is ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) of these opportunities, with the intention of supporting and broadening participation in the molecular biosciences. The Society believes that a lack of diversity and inclusivity across the scientific community represents a loss of potential talent to the UK and beyond. As well as being an active member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Science and Health (EDIS) group, the Society is also a signatory of The Science Council’s Declaration on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

Every year the Society recognizes excellence and achievement in the molecular biosciences via its Awards programme, which is continuously reviewed to ensure it includes an award for each career stage and for a diversity of career paths. These Awards are presented for specific and general fields of science both nationally and internationally. Nominations can be submitted by and for members and non-members. The deadline for the 2021 Awards is 31 January 2020.

Colin Bingle, Chair of the Biochemical Society’s Awards Committee, presents Wai-Hong Tham of the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Australia) with the Biochemical Society’s International Award 2020.

The Society also offers grants supporting research, attendance at scientific conferences and the sponsorship of events. Its Diversity in Science grants scheme provides funding of up to £500 to individuals, groups, charities or not-for profit organizations to support and address issues relating to diversity in science. In the last five years, 34 diversity projects have been supported including a podcast Querdy and an exhibition to highlight the work of BAME (‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic’) scientists which has previously been neglected.

One of the more recent changes facing Societies with journals is the opportunity to transition to open access publishing. The Society, along with its publisher Portland Press, have taken a positive and proactive approach to open access, seeing this as a stepping stone towards open scholarship. This transition provides a basis to work even more closely with researchers, institutions, funders and other societies to develop new models and better serve the research and higher education communities. In line with this, the Society, through Portland Press, looks forward to the uptake of new ‘transformative’ pilot deals offered to hundreds of subscribers for 2020. Uptake of these new offerings will convert all published articles from corresponding authors at participating institutions to open access without the need for individual article publishing charges (APCs).

Collaboration and community remain central to the Biochemical Society. In 2020, the Society will be organizing a joint FEBS3+ Meeting with the Netherlands Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NVBMB) and the Spanish Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) to explore ‘Machines on Genes’. The Society welcomes opportunities to work more closely with other like-minded FEBS member societies. For more information, visit

Katie Crabb, Head of Marketing & Communications,
The Biochemical Society 

 Text first published in FEBS News November 2019, pages 7–8:

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