As this year’s meeting in Tucson approaches, I want to place particular emphasis on the quality program that John Harbell, Program Chair, Michael Dame, IVACS Program Chair, Sukhpreet Sandhu, PBS Program Chair, Vivian Dayeh, Education Chair, Shaimar Gonzalez, IVACS Student Co-Chair, and Ningning Zhang, PBS Student Co-Chair have coordinated. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to look over the program on the redesigned website. Also, I remind you that it is not too late to register as advanced registration closes on April 28th. As in past years, the program quality comes from the grass roots planners who plan and organize each session. This year, they have done an exceptional job. Again, we have the challenge of trying to attend our sessions of interest and to find time to cross-over between the excellent animal and plant sessions. I look forward to meeting each of you at this important meeting.
During my better than 25 years as a society member, I have seen the Society evolve from mostly animal based to become mostly plant based. In my first years as a member, our Society’s members were in the forefront of tissue culture and pioneered the methods, media, and applications that established our society as the premier society for in vitro biology. Our Society is continuing its key role in all areas of science. As an educational organization, many of our members have received their training and moved to specialty fields for their careers. This means that many of them have moved to other specialty societies and only occasionally attend our meetings. They have applied their expertise to become leaders in their respective specialties. I for one have missed their interactions.
I have been fortunate to know many of our Society’s earlier members from our discussions at Society sessions and functions. A number of these no longer attend due to advancing age and on sad occasions, death. A few of these immediately come to mind, including Joseph Leighton, Richard Ham, Katherine Sanford, and Warren Schaeffer (who at last report was still teaching). These and many others have contributed greatly to the science that makes our Society special. As our society matured, it became more diverse and included all areas of in vitro biology. Today our journals and membership are truly international.
As I suffer through another California winter with exceptionally warm, dry days that continue to add to the drought we are currently experiencing, I have become more acutely aware of the impact of the scientific research conducted by our Plant Biotechnology Section. After all, when the mega droughts resulting from global warming finally are a reality, our society’s research on engineering drought resistant crops and innovative ways to provide higher quality foods may provide the lifeline we need to survive. The continued recognition afforded our society by biotechnology companies, which is due in large part to the success of our members in this effort, exemplifies the importance of our role.
Today we have moved into the 21st Century where using stem cells to treat an increasing number of diseases is becoming a reality. Human stem cells have also found applications in screening for toxicity and efficacy and will provide valid replacements and more scientifically relevant answers than the previous animal tests. The skills, tools, and culture media required for advancing stem cell technologies were developed by our current and former members. Over the next few years, we will see dramatic cures that have resulted from using stem cells and/or modified stem cells to address the basis of disease and to provide therapy.
Our Society continues to provide educational opportunities that will rapidly advance scientific knowledge and facilitate a future we cannot yet comprehend. I firmly believe that our Society’s emphasis on quality science provides the basis that is needed to support this future.
As President, I call upon each of you to meet this challenge by providing mentorship, training, education, and to support the Society’s efforts with both personal and financial support.
Eugene Elmore, Ph.D.
President, Society for In Vitro Biology