Advancing excellence in laboratory medicine for better healthcare worldwide

Editorial july august 2006

Editorial:  Message from the IFCC President

This year has been an extremely busy one for the IFCC, and for me personally.

First, I want to comment on some of the global issues involving some of the member countries that have arisen this year. There have been major earthquakes in Pakistan and Indonesia that have caused thousands of deaths and injuries to the populace, and have consequently placed great burdens on hospitals in those countries. The threat of avian flu still hovers over many regions in Asia, and avian flu-infected fowl have been reported in European countries. This has challenged medical scientists to devise tests to detect this virus, and to develop a vaccine.

I am very excited about the interesting challenges that the IFCC faces, such as: how to better disseminate information about our achievements, particularly from the Scientific Division; how to better serve our members from developing countries; how to incorporate other disciplines into our activities; and, how to better "market" our federation so that the world of laboratory medicine knows better what we do.  I recently met two laboratory scientists from the U.K. who had very little understanding of what the IFCC is and what it does. We have a lot to do!

As I look at the future of our discipline, I realize that we are rapidly moving in the direction of "personalized" laboratory medicine with the introduction of pharmacogenetics and physiogenetics. It is now appreciated that we are all unique genetically, and, therefore, we metabolize drugs at different rates and to different extents. It is also now clear that different ethnic groups are physiologically different, one from another.

Several of the regional federations associated with the IFCC have been very busy. The COLABIOCLI (Latin American Confederation of Clinical Biochemistry) had a very successful congress in Paraguay in April. Our Executive Board ("EB") also met at this venue, and had a good interactive meeting with the Board of COLABIOCLI.   Our EB also hosted a social occasion for the Presidents of the various associations within COLABIOCLI. Dr. Montserrat Blanes, the Organizing Chair of the meeting, is to be congratulated.

In early May, the ArabMedLab Congress was held in Damascus, Syria by the Arab Federation of Clinical Biochemistry. The Chairs of this very successful Congress were Dr. Ghassan Shannan (our Treasurer) and Dr. Fouad Harb, The IFCC had a very well attended booth at this Congress manned (or perhaps more accurately "womaned") by members of the IFCC Milan headquarters staff.  The present President and former Presidents of the IFCC were guests at this Congress.

Two of our other federations, FESCC (Federation of European Societies of Clinical Biochemistry) and APFCB  (Asian-Pacific Federation of Clinical Biochemistry) are very busy planning their congresses for 2007. The FESCC Congress will be held in Amsterdam from 3-7 June 2007, and the APFCB Congress will be held in Beijing from 14-19 October 2007. For more information, please visit

Our Divisions have also been very busy, and their activities are reported in detail in various issues of the IFCC News. To mention just a few of these activities:

 The Congress and Conference Division, chaired by Dr. Albert Fraser, has been working on deciding the most appropriate venue for the next IFCC General Conference, and is involved in planning for symposia for future major meetings.

The Communications and Publications Division, chaired by Dr Andrew Wootton, is working to develop a new, easier-to-navigate web site to be launched in July. 

The Education and Management Division, headed by Prof. Gerard Sanders, continues to actively support the IFCC Visiting Lecturer Program, This year, Dr. Rosa Sierra Amor from Mexico visited Paraguay. EMD is very active in issues of Evidence Based Laboratory Medicine and external quality assurance, just to name a couple of their many activities. Dr. Janet Smith from the U.K. will take over this Division in July 2006; her plans may be found on the IFCC web site. 

The Scientific Division, chaired by Prof. Mauro Panteghini, continues to be very busy. The recent activities of interest include, but are not limited to, working with WHO expert Committee on Biological Standardization, working with CLSI on several important projects including POCT guidelines for healthcare providers. Several working groups are very active, and these reports will be available soon. There is a very interesting proposal being considered, namely the standardization of serum/plasma insulin assays. The SD should also be proud of its many publications.

I have had a full schedule of visiting Member countries and giving lectures. I attended the Mexican association meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, the COLBIOCLI meeting in Asunci�n, Paraguay, and the Arab Federation meeting in Damascus. I will be lecturing at the Brazilian association meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, in June. It is always rewarding to visit Member countries and to talk to their medical scientists about their progress and problems.

I also went to Geneva with our new Treasurer, Dr. Ghassan Shannan, to organize IFCC's financial records so that they will, for the first time, be available to us on-line.

I also went to Fortaleza, Brazil, with Sn. Mauro Zaniboni, President of Emmezeta Congressi, whose company is responsible for the exhibitions, registrations and social events for IFCC's 2008 international congress to be held in that lovely seaside city. We surveyed many hotels and possible venues for social events. The Brazilians were extremely cooperative and accommodating; we achieved excellent results.

In conclusion, I hope that you are all enjoying the profiles about our Member countries that we are including in each issue of IFCC news.

Professor Jocelyn M. Hicks

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