Dear EFI member,
First I want to congratulate and thank Mats Bengtsson, Marie Schaffer and Ann-Charlotte Wikström. They organised a wonderful meeting putting neatly together local and international flair and providing a relaxed atmosphere. And what could better reflect the attractiveness of the meeting as the affected face of Mats - well known to me as somebody who puts a lot of effort not to be taken by any surprises - when he realised that in spite of all those precautions he ran out of conference bags and had to disappoint the late comers.
As a prelude to the EFI conference in Stockholm, Tissue Antigens (TA) organised a strategic meeting. TA has a longstanding tradition of being EFI’s ‘house journal’, which meant in practice, that the meeting abstracts have been published for many years free of charge. Besides this generous courtesy we also had the honour and privilege to have with TA’s editor-in-chief, James McCluskey a loyal and supportive friend of EFI.
During the meeting it turned out clearly that a scientific journal and a scientific society come roughly to the same conclusions regarding the issues of what attracts the readership or membership, or what the journal/the society should offer. EFI has managed over the years to keep both branches of immunogeneticists, ‘pure’ researchers and ‘applied’ clinical service providers happy and to foster the exchange between them. This was partly made easy because many were indeed doing both, research and routine work “side by side”. But surely this is becoming more difficult. The increasing workload of routine work, the growing hurdles for obtaining grants and the high tech needs of research (e.g. resolution of crystal structures) will lead in the foreseeable future to the complete separation between those branches. In addition, the term ‘immunogenetics’ is definitely becoming more complex, I refer to a recent paper in Science (Ye et al. Science, DOI:10.1126/science.1254665). Therefore, alleviating the dialogue between the people in research and clinical practice will stay as a major challenge for both, TA and EFI.
But to focus on the society: as you know, most of the work for EFI is done in the committees by volunteer members. The chair of each committee has the sometimes demanding but anyways extensive task of guiding and coordinating the members, distilling a consensus view and delivering this as a report to the general assembly. Kay Poulton has served for many years as chair of the Standards Committee and won the sympathies of the membership by her prudent way of taking care of EFI’s standards. She has been stepping down and we want to thank her most cordially and are happy to have her as a councillor in the board. Her successor is Juha Perasaari and we wish him all the best.
I would also like to draw your attention to the EPT committee chaired by Falko Heinemann. The issue of the external proficiency testing is central to all accreditation activities. Due to the heterogeneity of Europe in terms of economy and wealth the supply with EPT schemes is still a challenge. After having obtained a successful inventory of EPT providers the focus will now shift to regions in need of EPT schemes. The current project comprises the development of “strategies … together with other EFI Committees and Regional EFI Commissioners to adequately serve these areas”. A solution for this problem is extremely important but definitely not easy. I am grateful that the EPT committee took up this task and I am sure that the enthusiasm and passion of the committee will make this a success story eventually.
Lastly, the current developments and incidences in the world outside of EFI are frightening, at least for me. Territorial conflicts are rather escalating than being de-escalated; principles of human dignity are spurned. A first step for a solution is always to respect other opinions and people. EFI as a society stands – beside for scientific exchange - for regardful association of people of different origin and opinions. It is somehow reassuring that mutual appreciation can work at this level.