Advancing excellence in laboratory medicine for better healthcare worldwide

History of the IFCC

Introduction

In 1952, Professor E J King of the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London suggested that the then emerging national societies of clinical chemistry should organise into an international body under the auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). This was accomplished on July 24, 1952, at the Second International Congress of Biochemistry in Paris, by the formation of the International Association of Clinical Biochemists. A year later, in Stockholm, it was resolved to change the name to the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry, and this was formally adopted at the next meeting which took place in 1955 in Brussels.

The initial objectives of the Federation were to "advance knowledge and promote the interests of biochemistry in its clinical (medical) aspects". In the early years, IFCC was closely associated with the IUPAC Commission (later Section) of Clinical Chemistry, and initially, the Committee of IFCC comprised the members of the IUPAC Commission. It was recognised, however that the IFCC should become independent, but would retain its contacts with IUPAC through affiliation as an Associate Member.
This was accomplished in 1967, when the two organisations were formally separated.
With time, the organisational structure of IFCC developed so that its efforts in science, education, and publishing, as well as its financial affairs, and congress activities were dealt with by Divisions or Committees and, where appropriate, supported by other Committees and groups responsible for specific tasks. IFCC is now a Federation of 90 Full Member Societies of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine and 12 Affiliate Members, representing about 45.000 individual clinical chemists, laboratory scientists, and laboratory physicians and 46 Corporate Members covering the major areas of clinical laboratory developments.

IFCC Presidents

The history of IFCC must include reference to the eminent clinical chemists who have served as President and guided its development. Professor E J King conceived the idea of the Federation, brought it into being, and guided it through its early years to become the group to which all national societies of Clinical Chemistry could look for guidance. His untimely death created a vacuum which Professor Monroe Freeman ably filled for three years.

He was followed by Professor J E Courtois until 1967, during which time the statutes and bylaws, upon which the whole working of IFCC is based, were created.

During the seven to eight years of the presidency of Professor Martin Rubin, IFCC became accepted as a major international organisation and was recognised as a non-governmental organisation in official relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO). It became a member of the Council of the International Organisations of Medical Sciences and established its own regular Newsletter, developed education programs in South America; formed Expert Panels became authoritative groups in their own fields, and established constructive relationships with industry.

In 1976, Dr Jörg Frei was elected President after an eight year period as Secretary.

Dr Rene Dybkaer followed him in 1979 after six years as Vice-President. During these years the collaboration with industry was formalised by creation of Corporate Membership, IFCC Archives were established, Congress Guidelines were formulated, an IFCC Travelling Lectureship implemented, a major educational program conducted in Thailand, and the IFCC Distinguished International Services Award established in addition to the earlier Distinguished Clinical Chemist Award. As a new concept, a General Conference of IFCC Officers, Divisions and Committees, together with Associate Members, was launched in Denmark in 1982. Finally, a Task Force prepared new Articles for the Federation which were approved by Council in 1984.
Dr Donald Young became President in 1985, after a three year term as Vice-President. During his six years as President, Dr Young reorganised the committee structure of the IFCC. The previous Expert Panels were redefined as Committees and an integrated structure was formed to allow better communications and delegation of responsibility and activity. Dr Young initiated a further review and modification of the IFCC Statutes which was completed in 1993. During Dr Young's tenure IFCC initiated the publication of its own journal - Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry. A broader interpretation of clinical chemistry to include other areas of laboratory medicine was developed. Formal associations were initiated with clinical chemistry organisations in Latin America and the Asian and Pacific region.

Professor G. Siest, who was President from 1991 to 1996, worked with the Board and Members to develop a Strategic Plan which would guide the organisation into the 21st Century. This involved the identification of six key Strategic issues, relating to : Scientific Credibility, Linkage of Clinical Chemistry to Improved Patient Care, Communication, Promotion of IFCC Products and Services, People and Succession, and Finance. New agreements with the European region (FESCC) and the Latin American Region (COLABIOCLI) were signed. The strategic plan was endorsed by the IFCC Council in 1996.

From 1997-99 the President was Professor Matthew McQueen who was previously a member of the Scientific Committee from 1982-87, Treasurer from 1989-90 and Vice President 1991-96. During his Term the Executive Board translated the Strategic Plan into specific actions. These included increasing scientific activity in the areas of standardisation and reference materials and improved scientific co-operation with other international laboratory professional organisations. The Education and Management Division expanded its role in the pre-analytical and post-analytical phases, while the Communication and Publications Division restructured to meet the challenges of electronic publication. One highlight was the very important name change to the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, highlighting the clinical relevance and importance of our profession. The Statutes of the Federation were modified to implement "term limits" for members of the Executive Board. Representatives from the Corporate members were formally included in the structure of each Division. This Executive Board successfully concluded discussions with the World Association of Societies of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine producing a joint policy statement on "Principles of Clinical Laboratory Accreditation". This clearly stated that the Laboratory could be directed by Scientists or Physicians, with the appropriate initial qualifications and specialized post-graduate professional education and training in clinical laboratory work.

Prof. Mathias M. Müller served as President for the period 2000 - 2005, having previously served the Federation as Secretary, Vice-President, and Vice-Chair and Chair of the Scientific Division. Under his guidance the Federation continued to stress high quality scientific endeavour as the backbone of the Federation. Since 2000, the Executive Board emphasized the interdisciplinary character of our discipline and has focused on clinically relevant topics. In this context, the establishment of reference systems for glycated haemoglobin and enzyme activity measurements as well as a global campaign for monitoring diabetes mellitus were initiated. With the growing complexity of IFCC projects, the requirement for an intellectual property policy became evident. This has been developed. A working relationship with the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards/NCCLS (now known as the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute/CLSI) was formalised and joint NCCLSIFCC projects started. Standardisation on high metrological levels has always been a major undertaking and has contributed to the credibility of IFCC. As a consequence of this policy, collaboration with the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM), European, American and Japanese IVD Associations, and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) is being established for the implementation of traceability in Laboratory Medicine. New awards for significant contributions in molecular diagnostics, in education and in patient care were created. With the opening of the IFCC Office in Milan the IFCC Web site was restructured becoming the main communication vehicle between the Federation and the membership.

Professor Jocelyn Hicks served as President from 2005 to 2008. She also served the Federation as Chair of the Publications Division and as Treasurer .She continued to encourage the scientific excellence for which IFCC is justifiably proud. She assembled a group of clinicians from the key diabetes bodies to develop a consensus statement regarding the use of the new standard for glycated haemoglobin. As President she worked to enhance the quality of laboratory testing worldwide with the able assistance of the Education and Management Division. Under her direction the Communications and Publications Division took public relations and communications to a new level. They, for example, published a PR brochure in many languages. She considered assistance to the lesser developed country Members to be paramount, as it is the patient who benefits. Under her leadership the Visiting Lecturer Program was greatly expanded with the substantial grant from Abbott Laboratories. Travel scholarships to attend major IFCC Congresses were introduced with a generous grant from Roche Diagnostics Gmbh. These were awarded on a competitive basis to young scientists from developing countries. Siemens Healthcare Solutions assisted us greatly with starting a distance e-learning program for all members, but with emphasis on topics to assist those in developing countries. A new conference that links the clinician with the clinical laboratory was stared with the substantial grant from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. The first of these was held in Birmingham in the UK in 2008. The topic was on Cardiac Biomarkers. Two new awards were introduced, one in Laboratory Medicine and Patient Care sponsored by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics and one on outstanding contributions to Standardization sponsored by The National Institute on Standards and Technology and the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute.
Professor Hicks developed a new program for National and Corporate Representatives to be involved actively in the General Conference in 2008. This Conference was organized with the assistance of The Congress and Conference Committee, the Turkish Association and the IFCC Office. A successful International Congress of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine was held in Brazil in 2008 with the able assistance of the Brazilian Association. The number of full Members grew from 72 to 83 during this period. Professor Hicks visited many of our Member countries. The number of Corporate Members also increased despite many mergers. All of these activities were made possible with the assistance of the Executive Board, the Divisions, the Committees, working Groups and the IFCC office.

Dr Graham Beastall was elected as President for 2009-2011. He is based in Glasgow (UK) and is the former Clinical Lead for a large multi-site network Department of Clinical Biochemistry. He has been Chairman and President of the Association of Clinical Biochemistry and Vice President of the Royal College of Pathologists. With the recognition that ~70% of clinical decisions are influenced by Laboratory Medicine Dr Beastall believes that the time is right for IFCC to be more visible and more active in the clinical area. 'Adding Value to Laboratory Medicine' will be the strap line during his Presidency. Dr Beastall will also seek to engender greater connectivity with and involvement of IFCC members in promoting the contribution of Laboratory Medicine to healthcare at local, national and international level.
The number of Full members increased to 86 during Dr. Beastall's term. The number of Corporate Members grew to 47 during this period. Dr. Beastall organized a General Conference in Corfu, Greece on April 2010 with the Executive Board. The program included interactive sessions with the Divisions, Committees,  Working Groups and Special Task Forces. Unfortunately the Corfu General Conference was greatly affected by the Icelandic ash cloud which prevented many participants from reaching Corfu.

The IFCC Office

As the scope of the Federation's activities has expanded, so has the requirement for the exchange of information and the documentation of the various activities which were taking place. As with most other professional groups, the initial secretarial functions were provided by the individual officers and scientists within the Federation.
A considerable debt is owed to these individuals and their employing organisations.
However, it was obvious to the Executive Board that for the Federation to continue its development, a Secretariat was required. The Federation was fortunate originally to be supported by Radiometer A/S of Copenhagen, which agreed to provide office space and secretarial support. This facility was generously placed at the disposal of the Executive Board and became known in 1983 as the IFCC Technical Secretariat. During this period, the Federation was fortunate in obtaining the services of Mrs Maj-Britt Petersen, who provided invaluable support, in particular for the Scientific Division. In order to facilitate the appropriate distribution of documents, the Technical Secretariat also kept a master file of names and addresses of all those who play a part in the Federation's affairs. During 1988-1990 the Executive Board devoted considerable effort to determining the role and structure of a central office. In 1990 a new Technical Secretariat was established in Nancy, France with the assistance of Prof Gerard Siest. The opening of this office was a major event for the IFCC as for the first time the IFCC employed its own staff. The Technical Secretariat was transferred into the hands of Mrs Chantal Thirion and remained in Nancy until 2001. In 2001 when additional professional administrative services were needed, the Office was transferred to Milan, Italy where it shares resources with a major Professional Conference Organiser.

External Links

The IFCC has maintained its relations with WHO and transferred its International Medical Laboratory Information System to WHO. In addition, it has expanded its support of regional organisations and regular regional congresses that are held in Europe, in the Arab Region, in the Asian and Pacific Region,  in the Latin American Region and in Africa. IFCC has signed Memorandum of Understanding with EFCC and APFCB.
The IFCC has accepted the ICSU Principles of free circulation of scientists and has assured the attendance of visiting scientist at all meetings. The interests of IFCC continue to expand. lt has addressed the policy of patenting key products for analytical methods, and continues to work collaboratively with many international organisations to sponsor major educational programs in Mexico and Argentina. The IFCC is also working with a number of other International Organisations such as IRMM, NIST, CLSI and BIPM in developing new standards and in the area of standardisation of methods. The IFCC continues to be very influential in defining and reviewing appropriate terminology in Laboratory Medicine and other fields of chemistry. In addition, the management structure of the Federation has been reorganized continuously to enable it to respond effectively to contemporary issues.

IFCC has signed Memorandum of Understanding agreements with ILAC and WaSPALM to formalize and improve collaboration.

Membership of IFCC Executive Boards

President

Secretary

EJ King (UK) 1952 - 1960 IDP Wootton (UK) 1952 - 1958
ME Freeman (US) 1960 - 1963 ME Freeman (US) 1959 - 1960
JE Courtois (FR) 1963 - 1967 B Josephson (SE) 1960 - 1963
M Rubin (US) 1967 - 1975 MC Sanz (CH) 1963 - 1967
J Frei (CH) 1976 - 1978 J Frei (CH) 1967 - 1975
R Dybkaer (DK) 1979 - 1984 PMG Broughton (UK) 1976 - 1978
DS Young (US) 1985 - 1990 A Kallner (SE) 1979 - 1981
G Siest (FR) 1991 - 1996 JG Hill (CA) 1982 - 1984
MJ Mc Queen (CA) 1997 - 1999 MM Müller (AT) 1985 - 1987
MM Müller (AT) 2000 - 2005 R Vihko (FI) 1988 - 1990
JMB Hicks (US) 2006 - 2008 P Garcia Webb (AU) 1991 - 1993
GH Beastall (UK) 2009 - 2014 O Zinder (IL) 1993 - 1996
    J Whitfield (AU) 1997 - 1999
    R Bais (AU) 2000 - 2005
    PH Laitinen (FI) 2006 - 2011
  S Bernardini (IT) 2012  -2014
   

Vice President

Treasurer

E Werle (DE) 1966 - 1972 L Hartmann (FR) 1966 - 1972
R Dybkaer (DK) 1972 - 1978 PMG Broughton (UK) 1972 - 1975
RG Edwards (AU) 1979 - 1981 RG Edwards (AU) 1976 - 1978
DS Young (US) 1982 - 1984 JG Hill (CA) 1979 - 1981
A Kallner (SE) 1985 - 1990 A Kallner (SE) 1982 - 1984
MJ Mc Queen (CA) 1991 - 1996 ML Castillo de Sanchez (MX) 1985 - 1987
MM Müller (AT) 1997 - 1999 MJ McQueen (CA) 1988 - 1990
CA Burtis (US) 2000 - 2005 NC Den Boer (NL) 1991 - 1996
V Palicka (CZ) 2006 - 2008 P Mocarelli (IT) 1997 - 2002
CWK Lam (HK) 2009 - 2011 JMB Hicks (US) 2003 - 2005
H Morris (AU) 2012 - 2014 G Shannan (SY) 2006 - 2011
. . B Gouget (FR) 2012 - 2014
. .

Assistant Secretary

 

G Siest (FR) 1972 - 1975    
A Kallner (SE) 1976- 1978    

 

Members of Executive Board

A Sobel (US) 1952 - 1954 HP Lehmann (US) 1990 - 1994
P Fleury (FR) 1952 - 1960 N Montalbetti (IT) 1990 - 1992
B Josephson (SE) 1952 - 1960 N de Cediel (CO) 1991 - 1993
JCM Verschure (NL) 1954 - 1959 O Zinder (IL) 1991 - 1994
WM Sperry (US) 1955 - 1960 P Mocarelli (IT) 1994 - 1999
JE Courtois (FR) 1958 - 1963 JB Whitfield (AU) 1994 - 1999
K Hinsberg (DE) 1958 - 1963 A Kallner (SE) 1994 - 1999
MC Sanz (CH) 1958 - 1963 H Wetzel (DE) 1994 - 1999
NF Maclagan (UK) 1960 - 1967 L Muszbek (HU) 1997 - 1999
VN Orekhovich (SU) 1960 - 1967 TD Geary (AU) 1994 - 1999
SH Jackson (CA) 1960 - 1967 RI Sierra Amor (MX) 1997 - 2002
R Ruyseen (BE) 1963 - 1967 W Hölzel (DE) 2000 - 2003
M Rubin (US) 1963 - 1967 CWK Lam (HK) 2000 - 2005
J de Wael (NL) 1966 - 1967 G Shannan (SY) 2000 - 2002
I Nagy (HU) 1980 - 1987 V Palicka (CZ) 2003 - 2005
FW Sunderman Jr (US) 1981 - 1985 D Mazziotta (AR) 2003 - 2008
N Montalbetti (IT) 1981 - 1985 M Thomas (UK) 2006 - 2008
H Wishinsky (US) 1985 - 1987 JB Lopez (MY) 2006 - 2011
 SS Brown (GB) 1985 - 1990 B Gouget FR) 2009 - 2011
J Jaervisalo (FI) 1985 - 1990 U Tuma (BR) 2009 - 2014
I-K Tan (SG) 1985 - 1990 T Brinkmann (DE) 2009 - 2014
D Scheuch (DE) 1985 - 1990 L Kricka (US) 2012 - 2014
F Dati (DE) 1988 - 1993 V Steenkamp (ZA) 2012 - 2014

Until 1967 the Titular Members of the Commission on Clinical Chemistry of IUPAC also functioned as the Executive Board of IFCC.

 
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