President's Letter (October - November 2012)

As I approach the halfway mark in my presidency of BEMS, I am aware that this is a pivotal time for the future of the Society. The many changes initiated by the previous President, Joachim Schuz, are now consolidating and coming into use in the day to day operation of the Society.  The management of the organisation via website has been entirely successful.  We’ve integrated our website very well with the local website for the Brisbane meeting and we are now managing the renewal of memberships for the next year.  The decision was made recently by the Executive Committee of the Board to forego a “winter” Board meeting this year because of the need to conserve funds.  Whilst many of us on the Board, including myself, greatly regret that this was necessary, we are doing our best to make up for this by e-mail and teleconference communication.  This is partially successful, although it can be difficult both in terms of getting everybody together at the same time and also for people whose first language is not that of the meeting, inevitably English.  Further work needs to be done in this area which also comes down to the structure of the Board and perhaps a separation of the roles of policy making and day to day management.  For this term, the winter meeting will probably be replaced by an extended meeting at Thessaloniki in June and further policy will evolve from that.  

The BEMS Brisbane meeting was the last ever BEMS alone Annual Scientific Meeting.  From now on, all meetings will be jointly held with, at  minimum, EBEA and probably (in the future) with other emergent groups in the science.  I say this because the epicentre of much of the traditional activities of EBEA is moving to East Asia although that fact should not disguise the considerable base of industry management and intellectual property which remains in Europe and North America.  There are also other areas of the world which are hardly represented but, as those of us working with the industry know well, are emerging rapidly.  These include South America, which is a considerable force now.  

The origins of BEMS were in the United States, and it will always be my wish that BEMS remains a society with its roots and culture essentially American.  I say that as a non-American President, but I  do recognize the importance of maintaining some cultural tradition in an organisation which has a proud and successful history and one with a lot to offer the whole world in the future.  Over the next few years, the questions will arise as to whether BEMS should merge with other regional organisations in bioelectromagnetics (existing now or developing in the future) and, if this occurs, whether it will change the essential nature and culture of BEMS.  In some ways, we are moving towards this with the joint meeting agreements with EBEA, but it should not be assumed that the Eastern reach of BEMS stops at the edge of Europe.  This is a matter which will need much further work after Thessaloniki and I suspect will be a major priority for the next two Presidents.  

In the meantime, we look forward to the meeting in Greece, preparations for which are well ahead in a city that will provide a stunning backdrop and venue both for participants in the meeting and their partners.  There is much of interest to do and see in the city and the surrounding country at a time when, albeit due to unfortunate circumstances for our host nation, accommodation and hospitality costs are extremely affordable.  As members and friends of BEMS, the best way we can help both our Society, and also our hosts in Greece, is to support this meeting, to enjoy the legendary hospitality of this ancient and fascinating country and region. So I look forward to a meeting which I hope will be even more successful than Brisbane.  

For the future, the combined BEMS/EBEA meeting Selection Committee has considered proposals and decided that the 2014 meeting will be held in Cape Town and the 2015 meeting will be held in California.  The priority of these decisions was based on the completeness and readiness of the proposals and availability of the best dates at preferred venues.  Further details will follow, but we look forward to visiting the continent of Africa for the first time and then returning to the USA the following year.  

Wishing you and your families all the very best for the holiday season and a successful year in 2013.

Yours sincerely,

Dr David Black MD FAFOEM
Occupational & Environmental Medicine Specialist