Zisis Kozlakidis, PhD, ISBER President 2017-2018
By now many of you will know that I took on the role of ISBER President at our annual meeting in Toronto in May of this year. I am pleased for this opportunity to bring you up to date on ISBER activities.
Let’s start with the Annual Meeting in Toronto, which was a great success! The theme of this year’s meeting was “Due North: Aligning Biobanking Practice with Evolving Evidence and Innovation.” The range of plenary sessions, special topics, contributed papers, posters, workshops, working group discussions, and networking all reinforced that theme. For the first time the plenary session was made available to the entire ISBER membership using the hashtag #ISBERLIVE on Twitter and Facebook, and 172 members were able to follow the session online.
At the same time, the conference workshops attracted record number of attendees demonstrating the intense interest in our educational activities. Biobanking is a growing field with a host of research, ethical, innovation, 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 the largest international biobanking forum. Overall attendance was 693 delegates. Of these, 74% hailed from the Americas, 13% were from Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), 5% 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 Canada since 2012, when it was in Vancouver, and meeting attendance has continued to increase year over year since that time. In May of 2017, ISBER membership stood at 1,160, with members from 46 countries worldwide, reflecting the wide international interest in our society.
And there is more in store! Planning is well underway for ISBER’s first Conference presence in China, to be held in Hefei, Anhui Province as part of the 2017 Society of Cryobiology meeting from the 21st – 23rd of July, and for the first Global Biobank Week to be held in Stockholm from the 13th – 15th of September 2017, as part of an ISBER, ESBB and BBMRI-ERIC partnership. These two meetings constitute major initiatives of the organization and aim to showcase our achievements and collaborative potential, and of course, to inform colleagues of the upcoming updated ISBER Best Practices and existing tools. These meetings 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 Toronto meeting. Those interested should check the ISBER website for details.
ISBER intends to continue partnering with other organizations and to have Regional Meetings covering 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 Dallas, TX from May 8-11, 2017, again with a wide range of activities to stimulate your mind and to provide an appreciation for new developments in biobanking. Looking even further ahead, ISBER is in active discussions with IBBL to co-organize a Regional Meeting in Europe in early 2018 with a particular focus on biospecimen quality. Stay tuned for more information about these two events as further preparations are made.
Apart from planning ISBER meetings, we are also very busy with initiatives that we believe will enhance quality and improve standards in biobanking. For example, preparations are well underway to conclude work on the fourth edition of ISBER’s Best Practices. And ISBER continues to reach out to allied societies, such as the AABB, TMF, PRIM&R and others which we think have many goals in common with ISBER.
I wish to thank all the members who are participating in the new Standards, Communication, Marketing, and Membership Committees as well as all other Committees and the numerous ISBER Working Groups. The organization’s goal is to have an inclusive approach in enacting its plans and fulfilling its mission and vision. This can only be achieved by the active participation of members and the mapping of member needs while positioning ISBER to lead and expand the biobanking field in the years to come.
The ISBER Strategic Plan has been the product of hard work and will support the board’s decisions as we move forward. 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.