Dear members of the European Society of Pathology, dear colleagues, and friends,
it is my great honor and pleasure to address you for the first time as the President of our Society.
I take the presidency with very humble feelings and with huge respect to previous presidents, who made our Society really great. The French philosopher Bernard de Chartres used to compare us to dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we can see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature. Thus, I only hope that I will fulfil your expectations and move ESP a couple of steps further in the right direction.
Firstly, I want to express my sincere and deep thanks to all Officers and members of the Council, who served the Society during their periods. My thanks belong to our immediate past President, Prof. Holger Moch, his predecessor, Prof. Dina Tiniakos, and to our Secretary, Prof. Aurelio Ariza. I can hardly express how much I have learned from them during the last years. It is good to know that despite the fact, that they are now leaving their posts, they will be still active in the ESP agenda, and we can exploit their experience for the benefit of our Society.
If you participated in the ESP General Assembly you already know that another key ESP Expert who leaves his office is Prof. Peter Schirmacher, who served as Chair of the Education Subcommittee. It is not only because his 2-year period is over now, but most importantly because he was unanimously elected as our new President-Elect. The vacant post of Chair of the Education Subcommittee has been filled by another great candidate, Prof. Xavier Matias-Guiu from Spain. ESP also has a new Secretary, as Prof. Janina Kulka from Hungary was elected to this position. Last, but certainly not least - two members of the ESP Council are also leaving – Profs. Glen McCluggage and Anastasia Konstantinidou.
The newly elected members of the Council are Profs. Jean-Christophe Sabourin (France) and Marta Cohen (United Kingdom). I wish them all a lot of energy in their new positions. I am absolutely sure that all together we will make a great and productive team.
So, how was ESP doing during the last two years and what should we expect from the future? I took over the office from Prof. Holger Moch after two extremely difficult years. Nobody would ever imagine that during Holger's presidency, we will be forced to transform our major activities as last two congresses to virtual meetings, that we will cease all face-to-face meetings and switch to Zoom, MS Teams or Webex conferences (honestly - how many of you even HEARD these terms before the Covid-19 era?). Thus, the world pandemics made Prof. Holger's presidency extremely challenging. Yet, with his patience, wisdom and energy, he successfully navigated ESP ship through the troubled waters of these two turbulent years and he leaves the Society stronger than ever before. We have learned a lot - not all issues have to be solved personally and digital technologies can save a lot of time and traveling. Still, everybody is now looking forward to the release of strict regulations and to our personal meetings again.
What are the challenges today and what will we face in the near future? Besides developing and strengthening our digital educational resources with new webinars, virtual preceptorships, and online courses, we will need to invest a lot of time and energy to upcoming changes in the European legislation, namely in the in-vitro diagnostics regulation (known as IVDR). This can completely change the life of every pathologist, at least those working in the EU. The probably well-meant intention of EU representation to improve safety of our patients by strict quality control of individual diagnostic methods (instruments, tests, kits) may - and probably will - change into a nightmare of excessive bureaucratic obstacles, complications, and additional costs with very little (if any) real improvement of quality of our work. ESP representation (in particular our former Secretary, Prof. Aurelio Ariza) invested a lot of time and energy to mitigate the impact of this legislation on our daily life. We can only hope that the efforts of ESP, who acts not alone but together with our partners within the Biomedical Alliance (a unique initiative of 36 leading European medical societies), will be successful.
After the forced break, we will renew our activities - organisation of EScoP courses, ESP Academy, our young members start visiting European Advanced Training Centers with the financial support of ESP under the Giordano Fellowship programme. This means that we sincerely hope that the life of our Society will return to normal.
I am writing this text only couple of days after the end of our 33rd European Congress of Pathology (ECP), which had to be still almost exclusively virtual. I say "almost exclusively", because this year we managed to bring at least a small group of pathologists to Gothenburg, where the congress was supposed to be. We could experience at least a glimpse of the atmosphere which we so well know from our past "traditional" congresses. This light at the end of the tunnel was a promise that if nothing really bad happens, our next congress in Basel should have the usual form again. Thanks to our presence in situ, we were able to organise a brand-new type of sessions, which we called "Highlights of the day". The panel of experts could discuss the most stimulating, interesting, and challenging sessions of the day and - based on the feedback from the participants - this was a real success. We plan to keep this event for the future.
The Congress, despite its virtual format, was a success. We had 2718 registrations, represented by 94 countries, with UK, Germany and Spain leading the way. 1343 abstracts were submitted, and 146 bursaries awarded. There were 20 Industry Symposia and 17 Virtual Exhibitors.
I wish to express here my sincere thanks and acknowledgement to all members of the Scientific Committee, to the representation of the Swedish Society of Pathology, and to our congress organising company, CPO Hanser. They all did a great job and I believe you agree with me that this congress was great.
I am looking very much to meeting you all in person next year at the 34th ECP in Basel, Switzerland (3-7 September 2022).