Dear colleagues and friends,
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be addressing my first words to you as the new EFI president. Firstly, I would like to thank all of you who gave me your support and trust to lead our society. I promise to do my very best in order to navigate our “EFI ship” in such a way that our society and its members continue to increase their relevance in the field Histocompatibility, Immunology and Transplantation.
Let me start with warmly thanking on behalf of all of us Elissaveta Naumova, our immediate past president, for the excellent and very successful presidency she has had in the last three years and for the way she led our society. Among other things, Elissaveta managed to a) dramatically improve the spirit of interaction and collaboration within EFI, thus promoting networking and acting as an excellent motivator for all members who voluntarily work in various committees of EFI, and b) promote our society internationally by pursuing agreements with national H&I societies as well as international scientific societies in the field of Transplantation and Immunology, thus increasing EFI’s visibility and relevance. First fruitful results of these seeds have already been harvested. Again, thanks Elissaveta for all you have done for EFI in the last three years!
This is the first EFI Newsletter after our annual conference in Venice. Therefore, I also would like to thank Valeria Miotti, Carlo Carcassi and the rest of the local organizing team for the excellent work in putting together a very successful EFI annual meeting. We all enjoyed being in Lido and when a couple of weeks after our conference the Cinema festival was carried out in the same, we could all see on the TV the places we had spent many hours listening to scientific presentations and discussing with colleagues and friends hot topics in the field of H&I, transplantation, cell therapy etc. Here I also would like to extend our gratitude to the industry which always has supported our society with their substantial financial contribution without which our annual conference would not have been possible.
One of the important and main goals of our society is the opportunity it provides to its members to network and interact within our field but also to provide a platform for exchanging ideas and plan projects with members of other societies working adjacently in the fields of immunology and transplantation. As mentioned above, Elissaveta started an initiative by formalising our relationship with various national and international societies. As a result of this, EFI was invited to contribute to the annual meeting of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS) by putting together a session on clinical aspects of Immunogenetics. This session at this year’s annual EFIS meeting in Amsterdam and was very well attended. Many thanks to Katharina Fleischhauer, Frans Claas and Ludvig Sollid who represented our society at this prestigious meeting, as well as to Elissaveta Naumova who catalysed the contact to EFIS and chaired this joint session.
EFI has also signed an agreement with the Indian Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ISHI). We have been asked to contribute to their annual meeting and a joint session has been scheduled for ISHI’s annual conference in November this year (ISHICON), where Andrea Harmer and Sebastiaan Heidt will represent our society. We wish them good success and thank them for representing EFI in the Indian subcontinent. EFI is going to have joint sessions with other societies too in the near future. There is a plan to have a team which will coordinate EFI’s representation in meetings of other societies as well as the representation of other societies on EFI meetings. This group will include members from the EFI board, and the scientific and education committees. There are plans for mutual representation of EFI, ESOT and EBMT in each other’s upcoming annual meetings, respectively.
Another important goal of EFI is education and training of young members of our society. The International summer school of H&I (ISS) has been one of the most successful events towards this goal, giving the opportunity to young scientists to present their work and interact closely with opinion leaders in the field of H&I from Europe, the Americas and Asia/Australia. The ISS was carried out annually, but mainly due to financial restrictions it was “cut down” to every other year. ASHI, APHIA and EFI recently decided to re-establish the old turn system and we are happy to announce that from 2019 on the ISS will be carried out annually again. In 2019 the ISS will in the area of Quebec in Canada for which the faculty has been selected already and a first planning meeting will be at the upcoming ASHI meeting. In 2020 it will be EFI’s turn to organise the ISS somewhere in Europe, so if any of you is enthusiastic and wants to host this prestigious event, please contact the chair of the education committee, David Turner or EFI secretary Mats Bengtsson. In 2021, the ISS will be carried out by APHIA somewhere in Australia or South Asia. It is worth to be mentioned that the three organising societies will very soon be supported by the Arab Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetcs (ARSHI). The ISS-Memorandum of Understanding is currently being revised in order to reflect all the above changes.
An issue that kept us all busy in the last couple of months was the mandatory implementation of the new European data protection directive (GDRP). As a result of this, EFI had to inform its members accordingly, and the Web page had to be changed. We are in the process of completely refurbishing our Web site and EFI has reserved fuds in order to do so. We hope that within the next couple of months the new Web page will be launched with more functionality and data safety for EFI and its members.
For many years, EFI had an IT working group taking care of IT issues which occasionally came up. With Bioinformatics becoming a substantial part of our work, EFI recognized that Bioinformatics is now a core business within H&I. In order to address this fact adequately, EFI decided to “upgrade” the IT working group to a newly created IT & Bioinformatics committee. We are grateful and glad that Eric Spierings accepted to chair this committee and look forward to the great work which will be produced by him and his highly motivated group.
As often stated in the past, exchange of knowledge and continuous education are important goals of EFI and we have always tried to support our members towards these goals. Therefore EFI gives bursaries for participation to meetings, for support of regional educational events and for promoting training visits of EFI members to other laboratories. The deadlines for submission of bursary applications were somewhat confusing and EFI has decided to harmonize these deadlines. This process is now completed and we hope that applying for bursaries will be easier in the future. EFI is committed to continuously support its members towards training and education and will do so as long as the finances allow.
This year’s EFI autumn business meeting will be carried out in Leiden, 12th - 14th of October. During this meeting EFI will discuss the long planned topic of a corporate Professional Congress Organiser (cPCO). It is planned that for EFI meetings from 2022 onwards the organisation of the meeting should be carried out jointly by a cPCO -mid-term contracted by EFI- and a local PCO who along with the local organisers will be taking care of the local issues, whereas the cPCO will be mainly managing the industrial exhibition and sponsoring. This model was very successful at the EFI conference in Kos and EFI has decided that this would be the right way to go. Several PCOs have responded to a bid that EFI published earlier this year and the EFI board intends to decide on our future cPCO at the autumn meeting. We will be having our annual EFI meetings in Lisbon 2019, in Glasgow 2020 (joint meeting with BSHI), and in Amsterdam 2021 (joined meeting with the IHIWS). The bids for 2022 and 2023 will also be discussed in Leiden. In this context it should also be mentioned that EFI is working on an annual meeting manual which will help future applicants for the EFI conference to prepare their applications accordingly.
Before closing, I would like to remind everyone to the fact that this year we will have again elections. Several positions will become vacant and I would like to encourage everyone who feels that he/she would like to contribute to EFI’s work to consider submitting his/her application. EFI would not exist if its members where not active. We are a society with capable and highly motivated members. We look forward to receiving your applications! Watch out for the announcements in this issue of the EFI newsletters and please make sure to give your votes in the elections later this year!!!
EFI has always been standing for exchange, interaction, collaboration and solidarity among its members. This is particularly important in these days, where countries unfortunately start again to raise borders and block the spirit of cooperation and solidarity that has been predominant in Europe in the last decades. I am proud to lead a society like ours and I am proud that we as EFI reach out our hands to our sister societies within and outside Europe in order to promote knowledge, training, education, and science in the fields of Histocompatibility and Transplantation Immunology for the good of our members, and the patients we serve!