Dear EFI Member,
Summer brings about - besides some minor thoughts of holidays and little hope for a more relaxed state of affairs - schools that bear its name: ‘Summer Schools’ which according to Wikipedia is ‘a type of conference, [where] typically, established academics will give presentations on advanced topics in a field to postgraduate students’ bring me to attentions that I would like to share with you.
Summer Schools have a longstanding history in H&I and I think, with some nostalgia, of the one I attended in Greece at the beginning of the nineties, and then organised by the Council of Europe. The experience made me convinced that the H&I field is highly interesting and worthy to stay in. In the realm of EFI, Frans Claas accomplished a joint international annual Summer School, together with ASHI and APHIA (then ASEATA) and was the organizer of the first one which was held in Sevilla. The school is coordinated in turn by one of the three societies; this year it will take place in Stintino, Sardinia, and EFI’s Education Committee has the lead. I have been informed that the programme has attracted more participants than there are places which confirms the attractiveness of these meetings.
Recently, several meetings took place that could also fall under the term Immunogenetics Summer School. They have been organised, however, on a national (or bi-national) level. One was arranged by the Italian Association of Immunogenetics and Transplant Biology (AIBT) in Monopoly, Italy, another by the German Society for Immunogenetics (DGI) jointly with the Turkish Society for Transplantation Immunology and Genetics in Cesme, Turkey; and a third in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, the local Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion being the organiser. All events were very well attended and received. The main conference language was the national one.
The fact that in Europe we have such a diversity of regions, languages, nations, all with different needs stresses the importance of the national societies (or individual initiatives). And luckily, as observed in the example of the summer schools, the various societies take initiatives and are perfectly able to cover the needs of their membership or colleagues. EFI has always been supportive as can be seen on the various bursaries that are offered. But I would also argue that we should aim to put the (very amicable) relationships with the national societies on a more formal level. This could be achieved by agreements that would express the supportive attitude of EFI as well as the autonomy of the national societies; the principle of subsidiarity should be implemented; and above all the willingness to cooperate should be formally expressed.
Just a little afterthought to the last members General Assembly held at the Maastricht conference. The Accreditation Committee report traditionally includes the number of accredited laboratories, a number that seemed to have reached a plateau ~ 250 over the last years. It was explained, however, by Andrea Harmer that this number rather reflects a dynamic status, where newly accredited laboratories are counteracted by others who are lost from the accreditation statistics because they become merged with other units. Being myself in a department where the organisational chart is currently under review and the future of the H&I laboratory is all of a sudden open for discussion, I know rather precisely that the perspective of becoming restructured is on the one hand a rather strange perspective and can lead to awkward feelings. On the other hand, I realise that the H&I part of a clinical laboratory will probably always (or let us say it a bit more cautiously even some time after the foreseeable future) stay a highly specialised unit – however it is pictured in an organogram. Whatever the H&I lab is called, the competency of the staff and the availability of specialised resources will always require dedicated standards and specialised continuing education to meet the requirements for up to date H&I diagnostics. Will the centralisation and restructuring of currently existing laboratories impact on our standards and the way accreditation is performed? The answer to this will be dealt with by the relevant EFI committees. So we continue to be busy.