Previous Messages


Fall 2011 President’s Message

Submitted by
Stefano Bonassi, IAEMS President

Bonassi

Dear EMS members,

It is now one year since we launched the proposal to change the name of the International Association of Environmental Mutagens Societies, searching a definition more properly reflecting the current activity of EMS societies. I will not report here the reasons for the change, which have been the object of my last President's letter, and that have been extensively discussed in a commentary published by David DeMarini and SIlvio deFlora in the journal Mutation Research (705:201–204, 2010). The position of all IAEMS societies about the proposal to change the name in Environmental Genomics Society has been extensively discussed this year within most EMS societies, and a blog has been open in the IAEMS Web site. Unfortunately the blog did not work well, on the contrary the discussion within societies was intense, and in most cases I personally met national or regional councils to collect the orientation of the society.

The position of the societies that have formally replied to the proposal was very homogeneous. In brief, the large majority of members agreed and encouraged the whole idea of changing the name. The definition of Environmental mutagenesis was perceived as obsolete especially by young scientists, and many members emphasized as their work cannot be classified under this definition. The new name of Environmental Genomics Society was appreciated by a proportion of members varying from 30 to 50%, but a strong opposition emerged as well, based on the limited extent of the concept of Genomics and to the strict link to a specific technique. Clearly the whole concept of environmental genomics was not familiar to those who expressed this position. However, it became evident that if the concept was not understood within the society how can we expect that is understood outside the society? Therefore, we decided to abandon this proposal and—painfully—re-open the search for new name proposals. One important piece of information we collected from this round was the key words which according to EMS members characterize our interests and activities. There was a very good agreement on three words, i.e., Environment, Genes, and Health. It was interesting to discover that these words are in the name of the Chinese EMS, the largest within IAEMS.

I think these three words represent a good base for identifying the new candidate name, and I hope all local societies can start considering these key words. Great expectation comes from the work of a specific group of the US-EMS coordinate by Jeffrey Schartz committed to discuss the new EMS name. I hope that for the coming meeting of Montreal next October a position will be reached, and will provide a precious contribution for all EMS societies.

Besides the new name issue, which has occupied most of the IAEMS executive board activities this year, some formal changes should be reported. This year the Brazilian society (SBCTMA) has independently joined IAEMS, still participating as an active member of ALAMCTA. This is an important recognition for a large and active society which will be in charge of organizing the next XI ICEM. Similarly, last December there has been in Thailand the 2nd meeting of the Asian Association of EMS (AEMS), an exciting initiative which aims at creating a real network of Asian EMS. So far this is a scientific collaboration, but there is the real perspective of creating a regional body within IAEMS, linking all Asian societies.

There is another initiative that I would like to advertise. Under the coordination of the IAEMS secretary, Hester Vismer, and with the help of some key persons in the history of the society we started collecting all documents concerning major events organized by IAEMS, among them ICEMS, ICEMHP, ICMAA, and Hollaender courses. If you have in your archives old brochures of early meetings please contact Hester Vismer. We have collected material about most meetings, but some from 80s and 90s is still missing.

I hope this effort of preserving our history while we try to modernize the structure of our societies will be appreciated.

I take the opportunity of this message to remind you of the next ICEMHP meeting that will be held in March 26–29, 2012, in Doha, Qatar (ask William Au for information), and please contact you travel agents for the next ICEM in Brazil in 2013, and the next ICMAA that will be held in Wien, Austria, in 2014.

Best regards,

Stefano Bonassi, Ph.D.
President, IAEMS

Fall 2010 President’s Message

Submitted by
Stefano Bonassi, IAEMS President

Bonassi

Fate is Written in the Name

Time runs very quickly, and it is surprising that one year has already passed since the ICEM in Florence, when the new president and executive board have been appointed by the general assembly of IAEMS. Many things have happened during the last twelve months, and many efforts have been done to accomplish the priority tasks identified by the executive board. Despite other priorities, such as the creation of stable financial conditions ensuring the existence and the functionality of IAEMS are on the top of the list, we decided to concentrate our resources on the launch of the process which, through the choice of a new name, will bring our societies to re-define themselves and the role of our research.

The IAEMS and some of its initial member societies have reached or are approaching 40 years of age, and this observation provides an opportunity to reflect on both the past successes and future opportunities of IAEMS. In particular, we should use this occasion to consider the developments in the field of environmental mutagenesis and to assess the membership of the societies, the scientific trends in our field, and possible changes that might revitalize our societies and welcome new members from new areas of science.

The idea of renovating our societies by choosing a new name has been around for several years. In these years I had endless and frustrating discussions with many members of EMSs, all of us divided between the need to choose a new name reflecting the extraordinary developments of science in the last decades, and the lack (or the excess) of suitable alternatives. The heterogeneity of the proposal was huge and apparently without solutions.

After the general assembly held August 2009 in Florence, the newly elected IAEMS Executive Board decided to appoint two highly reputed persons to ask them to get in touch with the national societies, opinion leaders in environmental sciences, and young and old EMS members, and to explore possible ideas regarding changing the name of the IAEMS-affiliated societies. We asked them at the end of this explorative phase to formulate a proposal for a new name, to be discussed within our societies. The two persons were David DeMarini and Silvio De Flora, and the result of their thorough work is published as a Commentary in the journal Mutation Research—Reviews.

Their conclusion was “Although various names are possible, we think that changing the name of these societies to ‘Environmental Genomics Society’ may help to make our societies more attractive to a broader range of scientists, resulting in an increase in membership and an acceleration of the incorporation of genomic methods into environmental research.”

“Environmental genomics seeks to predict how an organism or organisms will respond, at the genetic level, to changes in their external environment. These genome responses are diverse and, as a result, environmental genomics must integrate molecular biology, physiology, toxicology, ecology, systems biology, epidemiology, and population genetics into an interdisciplinary research program. Environmental genomics is a generic term that applies to all studies examining the impact that environmental conditions have on gene transcription, protein levels, the stability of the genome itself, or the diversity of the genomes in a population.”—(C.C. Martin (ed.) Environmental Genomics: Methods in Molecular Biology, Humana Press, New York, 2008.)

The IAEMS Executive Board agreed with the critical evaluation reported in the Commentary and enthusiastically appreciated the proposal. We are now starting to gather as many comments as possible, not only from local and regional EMSs, but also and especially from single EMS members that have the possibility to express their welcome comments. The new name is initially proposed for the International Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies, but I encourage all national and regional EMS to consider this proposal, to contribute to general discussion, and also to start a similar discussion within their membership. We really need to face together this critical choice.

Please download the Commentary and post your comments in the IAEMS blog opened for this purpose. You may also obtain the Commentary through PubMed or the Mutation Research Web site. In the next few months I will attend annual meetings of major regional societies where this proposal will be presented to various councils. This is a valuable opportunity for a direct discussion, and I encourage all of you to contribute.

Such a big change can be managed positively only if there is a large participation from all EMS members. I look forward to your comments.

Stefano Bonassi, Ph.D.
President, IAEMS

Fall 2009 President’s Message

Submitted by
Stefano Bonassi, IAEMS President

Bonassi

When David DeMarini called to inform me that my name emerged from the ballot as the next president of the IAEMS, I was enjoying my vacation in the Italian Alps. After that news, I surely enjoyed the vacation much less!!

IAEMS is a big society, with regional and national associates representing more than five thousand scientists from all over the world. The responsibility of coordinating this organization is simply huge, and there are several challenges for a new president.

We are living a frantic period of transition, with new technologies that challenge everyday the whole idea of science that has accompanied our societies in the last decades. We need to renovate, re-address our priorities, and explore new fields, and we have to do it without losing our tradition. However, if I think about the tremendous science we had in Florence during the X ICEM, I feel reassured. Many brilliant scientists from very heterogeneous fields gave outstanding talks, and most of them were members of EMS.

I would like to spend a few words to celebrate the ICEM meeting held this August in Florence. Despite the bad financial crisis that has brought close to the bankruptcy a number of much bigger meetings, the attendance at our quadriennial meeting was impressive as usual. The whole meeting was a success, and this was possible also because many invited speakers, given the financial difficulties of the moment, voluntarily renounced support from the conference. This is the spirit of our societies, a unique feature that I hope will remain unchanged even in this changing world.

Another big ‘thank you’ is for our past president, David DeMarini. It will be very difficult to survive the comparison with his personality.  His dedication and his results in reshaping the infrastructure of the society were incredibly successful. During the last four years, many changes and improvements occurred. Now IAEMS is a non-profit, tax-exempt society, and it is managed by a very efficient executive director, which will make my work much easier!  Thank you David.

During the business meeting, I presented the priorities for the society in the next few years. The first priority is to develop and consolidate a business strategy that will guarantee a constant flow of money. Keeping the society in good economical conditions is the only way to survive.

Other important priorities are to consolidate the network within EMS member societies, while improving the participation of members to the activity proposed by IAEMS. The launch of collaborative efforts to increase the opportunity for assay/biomarker validation and for society interchange is another major priority. The last issue deals with the most difficult decision, which is the change of the name of the society. We have to work hard to find an agreement among member societies, but our destiny is written in our name, and we have to decide what is going to be our destiny in the next years.

The work for the next four years is a lot, but I trust that there will be many persons with whom I can share this burden. For this purpose, in agreement with the executive board I have proposed a presidential advisory committee involving key persons of the society, each of them with a very special task. A few volunteers offered their help and hopefully others will join.

The best way to help the society is to participate to the IAEMS-promoted activities! The next one is an extraordinary opportunity. The ICMAA will be organized by the Brazilian EMS, and will be held in September 26–30, 2010, at Guarujá, Brazil, in conjunction with the International Nutrigenomics Conference. You should not miss it!!

Thank you in advance for your help!

Ciao,

Stefano Bonassi, Ph.D.
President, IAEMS

Fall 2008 President’s Message

Submitted by
David DeMarini, IAEMS President

Demarini

The IAEMS has undergone some changes, and more are likely to occur in the coming year. For the first time since it was founded, we have incorporated the IAEMS as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization—in this case, in the state of North Carolina in the United States. Also for the first time, IAEMS has hired a management company (AIM in Reston, VA), and for the first time, IAEMS has an Executive Director, Dr. Betty Eidemiller.

AIM manages a number of other scientific societies, including the Society of Toxicology, the Environmental Mutagen Society, and the Teratology Society. We are pleased to have Dr. Eidemiller and the staff of AIM to assist us, and one of the first tasks that they undertook was to work with Dr. George Douglas, the previous Treasurer of IAEMS, to transfer the bank accounts and financial records to AIM. For this effort, we especially thank George for maintaining good records and putting in all of the time and effort necessary to accomplish the complex task of transferring all the documents and closing out the previous accounts.

All of the financial holdings of IAEMS are now contained in 2 accounts in a U.S. bank:  a checking account and a money market account, and they are managed by AIM and the IAEMS Treasurer, Lutz Muller. The current net worth of IAEMS is approximately U.S. $120,000, and a financial report will be sent to the membership in June. In addition to dues, the IAEMS has received foundation support, as well as a portion of the profits from the 9th International Conference on Environmental Mutagens (ICEM) in San Francisco in 2005. IAEMS has engaged the help of a foundation grant-finding company, with the goal of writing grant proposals to foundations later this year to garner more support for IAEMS activities. AIM has also helped to establish and design a new Web site for IAEMS, which I encourage you to see at www.iaems.net

The resources of the IAEMS (U.S. $37,000) have been used to help support a number of conferences and training programs during the past few years, including the Alexander Hollaender Courses in Concepcion, Chile in 2006; Cartegena, Colombia in 2007; and Kolkata (Calcutta), India coming up later in 2008. In addition, IAEMS helped to sponsor the 5th International Conference on Environmental Mutagens in Human Populations (ICEMHP) in Antalya, Turkey in May 2007; first meeting of the Asian Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies (AAEMS) in Kita-kyushu, Japan in 2007; the 9th International Conference on Mechanisms of Antimutagenesis and Anticarcinogenesis (ICMAA) in Jeju Island, South Korea in December 2007; and the upcoming Pan-African EMS meeting in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. IAEMS will also provide support for the 10th ICEM in August 2009 in Firenze, Italy.

The next ICMAA will be organized by Dr. Lucia Ribeiro in September 26–30, 2010, at Guarujá, Brazil, in conjunction with the International Neurtigenomics Conference. I want to thank Lucia and the organizers of all of the IAEMS-sponsored events listed above for their hard work and dedication to help disseminate information and training in the field of environmental mutagenesis worldwide. We ask for any suggestions and ideas regarding how IAEMS may help in this ongoing task.

IAEMS will be busy this year with grant writing to foundations for support and with communications with its membership to discuss changes in the IAEMS constitution, a possible name change for the society, the establishment of a nominating committee for new officers, and the selection of the organizer and location for the 11th ICEM in 2013. We look forward to hearing from the membership on these and any other issue, so please see us at our new Web site at www.iaems.net and let us know what you think. Thank you.

 
David DeMarini
President, IAEMS

Fall 2007 President’s Message

Changes at the IAEMS

Submitted by
David DeMarini, IAEMS President

Demarini

The International Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies (IAEMS) has an exciting future based on some new developments. First, we have incorporated the IAEMS as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization (for the first time) as of March 17, 2006, in the State of North Carolina. This puts IAEMS on a sound structural footing and permits it to receive financial support from foundations as well as a variety of other entities.

Another development is that on January 17, 2007, we signed a contract with Association Innovation & Management, Inc. (AIM) for AIM to be the management company for IAEMS. As you know, AIM manages the EMS, SOT, and other societies. As part of this contract with AIM, IAEMS now has an Executive Director, Dr. Betty Eidemiller. This is the first time in the 35 year history of IAEMS that IAEMS has been incorporated, had a management company, and an Executive Director and all that with a very reasonable use of our resources. We welcome Betty on board and look forward to working with her in the coming years.

As part of hiring AIM, the IAEMS will have a new Web site that will be based in the US and also new bank accounts, which will also be US-based.

We are pleased to note that the 9th International Conference on Environmental Mutagens (9th ICEM) and the International Workshop on Genotoxicity Tests (IWGT) that was held in conjunction with the ICEM made a substantial profit, and a significant portion of those funds will soon be deposited in the IAEMS treasury. The IAEMS also has received several generous donations recently; thus, the IAEMS is positioned to have sufficient resources to help sponsor upcoming IAEMS events, such as the 10th ICEM in Florence, Italy in 2009.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my predecessors, especially Jim Gentile and George Douglas, for their help in the transition, as well as the current officers of IAEMS, Wagida Anwar (Secretary General), Lutz Mueller (Treasurer), and Leona Samson and Angelo Carere (Vice-presidents) for their help and support. We look forward to the coming years and to reaching out to the IAEMS-affiliated societies as we help promote understanding of genetic toxicology and environmental mutagenesis as part of the preservation of public health worldwide.

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