President's page

Dear EFI Member,

This is my last letter to you as an EFI President. First of all I would like to say that my term as President was on the one hand a huge challenge and a responsibility, but on the other a great honor to work for EFI with a team of highly motivated and positive colleagues.  To be honest, it took much more time and energy than I really thought. But if I have succeeded to contribute just a little bit to the development of EFI and the promotion of its achievements internationally it means it is worth it. Now I will try to outline some of the most important aspects of the EFI activities during this period.

The EFI daily work has been held in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere as well as with  high efficiency and respect for the enormous efforts and professionalism of the EFI Committee members. The financial situation is stable, thanks to the successful EFI meetings and the improved coordination of incoming and spent funds, and it makes it possible to have more financial capacity for educational programs, updating websites and other useful activities for the EFI members. After introducing the reduced fee for the new (young) members since January 2016 there are 230 new registered EFI members. Another initiative to attract young people is that this year, for the first time, the participants in the EFI conference will receive certificates with educational credits, which is a part of the continuing education.  

Efforts were being made to establish closer working relations with national histocompatibility societies. Shortly, agreements were being signed (MoU) with the societies in the UK, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and India. It makes our collaboration formal in terms of education, research, EPT accreditation and increases the reliability of all aspects of H&I testing. In fact, the annual EFI conferences are jointly organized with the representatives of the national societies where they exist. For example, as result of this collaboration, a meeting has been held in Warsaw with the directors of the Polish HLA labs, where the  participants were provided with detailed information on EFI accreditation, EPT and Education programs which were excellently presented by the chairs of the EFI Committees. Undoubtedly, this joint meeting contributed to a better integration of the Polish laboratories into the EFI family and encourage them to apply for EFI accreditation. Even more, the Polish association has developed national guidelines for histocompatibility testing in both organ and SCT requiring EFI accreditation for the labs. A similar meeting is scheduled to be held in April 2018 in Istanbul for the directors of the Turkish labs. During the fall EC meeting, it was decided that a joint meeting between the EFI and the Presidents of national societies in Europe will be organized in Venice. It will aim to identify steps for more effective collaboration in favour of our members, including a development of Guidelines for transplantation where EFI will act as a scientific umbrella, creating consensus documents, shared memberships, etc.

To keep up with modern medicine, we should put more effort to translate the latest immunogenetic achievements in clinical practice. In relation to this, an agreement (MoU) for collaboration with the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) was signed.  It is well known that EFI has a high expertise in histocompatibility and immunogenetics, which is beneficial to EBMT and SCT, as well as showing a strong scientific and clinical interest in using the immunogenetic data from SCT.  A constructive meeting was recently held with the EBMT President-elect Nicolaus Kröger and the executive director Andreu Gusi, where more specific forms of collaboration including educational initiatives, scientific projects, joint sessions and others were considered. You will receive more detailed information during the GA in Venice. Another important agreement was signed with the EFIS, that set the beginning of closer cooperation with specialists working in basic science.  Last month, a meeting was held with the Board of European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS) where it was reported that the two organizations shared interests in several fields and that the potential for collaboration in many areas is high. A first step towards this end was the mutual linking of web resources. Moreover, a need for the reciprocal exchange of information for scientific and educational purposes was particularly anticipated, for meetings and conferences, as well as for the Federations’ respective journals. A first joint endeavor could, for example, be a session on basic immunology organized by EFIS at the EFI annual conference and respectively EFI session at the triennial European Congress of Immunology (ECI) during which topics  related to clinical practice could be discussed. EFI, and in particular the EFI Education Committee, has played active role in the creation of the ESHI Diploma in collaboration with the EBTI/UEMS for the Directors/Co-Directors of H&I labs.

In order to strengthen International collaboration, a trilateral agreement for collaboration in H&I with our sister societies APHIA/ASHI was signed. As a result of this, regular meetings of their presidents at the annual conferences are held where the main points discussed are those related to partnership. Undoubtedly, one of the successful forms of this collaboration is that of the International Summer School on Immunogenetics. Due to the huge interest from the members of each of the three associations it was agreed that the Summer School will be held annually. Moreover, the lectures presented there are uploaded onto the websites of the three organizations. Further, meetings with the chairs of the International HLA and Immunogenetics Workshops (IHIWS) were also organized. The next steps for a more efficient and structural collaboration between APHIA/ASHI/EFI and IHIWS, as well as for continuity and continuation in the work from one WS to the next, have been outlined. In this context, we expect the results obtained from the 17th IHIWS to be used by all members of the H&I community for research and clinical applications providing high quality, highly informative data. All this clearly shows that the EFI is well recognized with leading positions in H&I as well as being a reliable partner in the field of immunology, transplantation and immunogenetics.

Sadly, this period was deeply marked by the passing of Prof. Jon van Rood and Dr. Paul Terasaki. We lost great personalities, brilliant scientists and dear friends. 

I hope that the next EFI President, Joannis Mytilineos will keep developing the good initiatives as well as new ones in favour of EFI.  Also, I do believe that Joannis will be an excellent EFI President and would like to wish him every success and an enjoyable term.

Dear colleagues, dear friends, needless to say that I was most happy and very proud to work with you all for EFI. My heartfelt gratitude is to you all, and especially the EFI Committees members, for the work that each of you do that contributes to EFI’s great reputation.

The experience shared by most of us shows that the annual EFI conferences remain a very important activity for our community. The next 32nd EFI meeting is in Venice, and will be held under the motto "Art and science: the evolving picture of Immunogenetics". This motto perfectly reflects on one hand the rich historical and cultural heritage of Venice, and on the other hand, the multifaceted scientific and clinical research in the field of immunogenetics and transplantation.

Looking forward to welcoming you all to this exciting conference to be held in the romantic and unique city of Venice!

Elissaveta Naumova

EFI President