Brent Schacter, ISBER President 2016-2017
By now many of you will know that I took on the role of President of ISBER at our annual meeting in Berlin in April of this year. I am pleased for this opportunity to bring you up to date on ISBER activities at the Board and Secretariat level.
Let’s start with the Annual Meeting in Berlin which was a great success! The theme of this year’s meeting was “Breaking Down Walls: Unifying Biobanking Communities to Ensure Our Sustainability”. The range of plenary sessions, special topics, contributed papers, poster sessions, workshops, working group discussions and networking all reinforced that theme. Biobanking is a growing field with a host of research, ethical, innovative and managerial issues that are being addressed through ISBER. Our aim is to promote consistent high quality standards, ethical principles and innovation in biospecimen banking by uniting the global biobanking community in what is the largest international biobanking forum. Overall attendance was 571 delegates. Of these, 45% were from Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), 39% from the Americas, 9% from the Indo-Pacific Rim and 8% from China, reflecting the global reach of ISBER. This was the first meeting that ISBER has held in Europe since 2010, when it was in Rotterdam, and meeting attendance has continued to increase year over year since that time. In July of 2016, ISBER membership stood at 1,168, with members in 44 countries worldwide, reflecting the wide international interest in our society.
And there is more in store! Planning is well underway for ISBER’s first Regional Meeting to be held in Bethesda, MD on Monday November 7 and Tuesday November 8 later this year. This meeting will provide another opportunity for ISBER members to be updated in the fast moving field of Biobanking, and may be particularly attractive for ISBER members who were not able to attend the Berlin meeting. Those interested should check the ISBER website for details about registration and the program.
ISBER intends to have Regional Meetings covering the Americas, EMEA, the Asia-Pacific Region and China in the coming years to ensure that ISBER members in those regions can fully participate in ISBER activities and to encourage new membership worldwide.
And there’s even more under development. The next Annual General Meeting of ISBER will be held in Toronto from May 9-12, 2017, again with a wide range of activities to stimulate your mind and provide an appreciation of new developments in biobanking. And looking even further ahead, ISBER is in active discussion with ESBB and BBMRI-ERIC to co-sponsor a Global Biobank Week in the fall of 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. Stay tuned for more information about these two events as further preparations are made for them.
Apart from the planning for ISBER meetings, we are also very busy with initiatives that we believe will enhance quality and improve standards in biobanking, and I will have more to say about these developments as they mature. For example, preparations are well underway to begin work on the fourth edition of ISBER’s Best Practices. And finally, ISBER continues to reach out to allied societies which we think have many goals in common with ISBER.
I wish to thank all the members who completed the member survey. We had over 275 responses! As well, thank you to all who are participating in the environmental scan, which is currently underway. The information provided will be considered and reviewed during the board’s strategic planning exercise this fall. The board’s goal is to have a strategic plan that is based on member needs while positioning ISBER to lead and expand the biobanking field in the years to come. We expect to have a new strategic plan early in the New Year.
Altogether, a very busy year ahead, and I invite all of you to stay tuned to the ISBER website and to volunteer to participate in activities which are of interest to you and in which you have expertise.