History of the Society

  1. Why a BSCDB?
  2. History of the Society (1972-2012)
  3. Board of Officers (2013-2014)
  4. Bylaws of the BSCDB
HISTORY of the BELGIAN SOCIETY  for CELL and DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY (Formerly Belgian Society for Cell Biology)

by Jacques Mulnard, Emeritus Professor of Human Anatomy and Embryology and Fernand Harrisson, Emeritus Professor of Human Anatomy and Embryology

It is on the occasion of the 12th International Congress for Cell Biology, which took place in Brussels in the year 1968 (right in the middle of the contest movement of the students), that the idea of creating a Belgian Society for Cell Biology was launched and it was the great merit of the late Professor Maurice Chèvremont, who had been the President of the congress, to ensure the follow up by organising a meeting in Brussels on the 16th January 1971. Were present: R. Bassleer, P. Baudhuin, G. Bernier, A. Collete-Jacqmard, P. Drochmans, P.-Y. Duchesne, Y. Eeckhout, H. Firket, W. Gepts, M. Gerebtzoff, R. Goutier, A. Hagemeijer-Hausman, Heuts, P. Jacques, J. Mulnard, J.-J. Pasteels, J. Quatacker, G. Steinert, L. Thienpont, L. Thiry, L. Vakaet, G. Vandebroek and A. Van Gool. Several other biologists were excused but wished to express their interest for the project: E. Betz, J. Brachet, A. Dalcq, C. de Duve, J. Delcour, M. Errera, Go­deaux, Gosselin-Rey, G. Hamoir, J. Lecomte, Cl. Liebecq, H. Roels, E. Schoffeniels and M. Welsch. Prof. W.Th. Daems, Secretary of the European Cell Biology Organisation (ECBO) was also present. There was a unanimous agreement on the utility and even necessity of a Belgian Society for Cell Biology, for European as well as national reasons. The new society would gather all persons working in the fields of cell biology in the widest sense and should encourage the encounter of people often separated by the specificity of their personal research. The society would be largely open to young people. No competition should exist with the national or European existing societies with whom co-operation should be encouraged and undertaken.

The activities of the future society were defined as follows:

  • organisation, once or twice a year, of a one-day meeting centred on one or two topics of general interest and on the progresses made in the field, and eventually co-organised with other biological societies. The meetings (which were to be called "ordinary meetings") would successively take place in the university cities or centres, and be prepared by local committees.
  • establishment of a directory of all persons working in the field of cell biology.
  • organisation of workshops with more restricted (e.g., technical) objectives.

The society would have an informal character and remain an association de  facto agreed by the ECBO, and ruled by an internal regulation act. The first annual fee was proposed to be of 100,-BEF. A temporary executive committee was appointed with the charge of preparing the first general assembly and the first ordinary meeting of the new society. It was composed of Pierre Baudhuin as Secretary, Lucien Vakaet as Assistant Secretary and Jacques Mulnard as Treasurer. The President and Vice-President were to be elected by the first general assembly of the members. A delegate of the society to the ECBO was immediately proposed and Henri Firket accepted that task for a renewable three-year period. In order to face up to the first administrative expenses, and with the agreement of the executive board of the 12th International Congress for Cell Biology, the credit balance of that congress was put at the disposal of the society.

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE SOCIETY

The inaugural General Assembly took place in Rhode-St-Genèse on 12 February 1972, together with the first ordinary meeting on Intercellular Communication. The society was officially created by unanimous adoption of the regulation act, which was proposed as follows:

I. Object and composition of the society

Art.1.
The BSCB is an association de facto whose aim is to promote contacts between persons dealing with cell biology in the widest sense, and to play a role of interdis­ciplinary information.

Art.2.
The society is composed of titular and adherent members. Are entitled to become titular members, all persons whose research pertains to cell biology. With the agreement of the Board, the society may receive the adhesion of moral persons as adherent members. The adhesion to the society as titular or adherent member is acquired by payment of the annual fee.

II. Administration of the society

Art.3.
The society is administered by a Board composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Treasurer, two Secretaries and two to four Members. The titular members elect the board for a two-year period.

Art.4. The General Assembly is composed of the titular members. They meet at least once every two years and at each request of at least one fourth of the titular members. The general assembly

  • determines the objects of the society.
  • elects the Board. This election may be organised by correspondence.
  • approves the accounts of the Treasurer.
  • fixes the amount of the annual fee.

III. Activities of the society

Art.5.
The society

  • organises once or twice a year a meeting centred on a problem of cell biology of general interest.
  • keeps a directory of persons working in the field of cell biology. The directory is communicated to the members.
  • encourages the information of working groups gathering the persons interested in a specialised domain.
  • ensures the connections with the international groups of cell biology.

Only minor changes were later brought to this text, in particular as concerns the number of members of the Board, which was enlarged, and the name of the Society, which in 2002 evolved to a Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (see "Why a Society for Cell and Developmental Biology?" on this website). Presently, the Board of the Society meets three times a year. The bylaws of the Society, as modified on 7 September 1996 and on 1 September 2001, are available on this website.

THE MANAGEMENT OF THE SOCIETY

The elections gave the following composition of the first Executive Committee:

  • Honorary President: Maurice CHEVREMONT
  • President: Jean BRACHET
  • Vice-President: Julien FAUTREZ
  • Secretary: Yves EECKHOUT
  • Assistant Secretary: Lucien VAKAET
  • Treasurer: Jacques MULNARD
  • Members: Pamela MALPOIX-HIGGINS, Roger BASSLEER and Jan DE GREEF.
  • Henri FIRKET was confirmed as Delegate to the ECBO.

The first elected committee took in charge the scientific activities of the society until 1976 with a minor change occurring in 1974, L. Vakaet and Y. Eeckhout exchanging their positions and Alain MILLER being appointed as 4th mem­ber. In 1976, homage was paid to our two Nobel Prices, Albert CLAUDE and Christian DE DUVE, who accep­ted to become Honorary Presidents together with Maurice CHEVREMONT. Later, Past-Presidents Jean BRACHET, Herman VAN DEN BERGHE, Jacques MULNARD and Lucien VAKAET also accepted an honorary presidency. The following Members of the Board were successively appointed:

As President of the Society : Jean BRACHET (1972-1976); Julien FAUTREZ (1976-1978); Pierre BAUDHUIN (1978-1980); Herman VAN DEN BERGHE (1980-1984); Roger BASSLEER (1984-1988); Lucien VAKAET (1988-1990); Jacques MULNARD (1990-1993); Jean-Jacques CASSIMAN (1993-1997); Jean-Michel FOIDART (1997-1999); Frank ROELS (1999-2001); André GOFFINET (2001-2003); Fernand HARRISSON (2003-2004); Agnès NOËL (2004-2008); Guido DAVID (2009-2010); Eric BELLEFROID (2011-2012).

As Vice-President : Julien FAUTREZ (1972-1976); Jean BRACHET and Pierre BAUDHUIN (1976-1978); Lucien VAKAET (1978-1980); Roger BASSLEER (1980-1984); Marc MAREEL (1984-1988); Paulette VAN GANSEN (1988-1990); Marcel JONIAU (1990-1993); Jeanine STIENNON-HEUSON (1993-1995); Jean-Michel FOIDART (1995-1997); Frans VAN ROY (1997-1999); Henri ALEXANDRE (1999-2001); Guido DAVID (2001-2003); Roland POCHET (2003-2004); Guido DAVID (2004-2008); Eric BELLEFROID (2009-2010); Jolanda VAN HENGEL (2011-2012).

As Secretary : Yves EECKHOUT (1972-1974); Lucien VAKAET (1974-1988); Fernand HARRISSON (1988-2003); Frans VAN ROY (2003-2004); Danny HUYLEBROECK (2004-2012 ); Peter PONSAERTS (2012-  ).

As Assistant Secretary : Lucien VAKAET (1972-1974); Yves EECKHOUT (1974-1984); Fernand HARRISSON (1984-1988).

As Treasurer : Jacques MULNARD (1972-1990); Marie-France VAN DEN HOVE (1990-2003); André GOFFINET (2003-2008); Agnès NOËL (2009-2012); Alain CHARIOT (2013- ).

In addition, the following colleagues, listed in alphabetical order, were at a given time elected for one or more terms as Member of the Board:  Alain CHARIOT, Marc DE BRABANDER, Jan DE GREEF, Pierre DE MEYTS, Leo DE RIDDER, Patrick DUMONT, Pierre DUSTIN, Danny GEELEN, Albert GEERTS, Hugo GEERTS, Johan GEYSEN, Dirk INZE, Michel JADOT, Robert KISS, Bernard KNOOPS, Ivo LAMBRICHTS, Guy LAURENT, Luc LEYNS, Pamela MALPOIX-HIGGINS, Alain MILLER, Peter PONSAERTS, Yves POUMAY, Jef RAUS, Claude REMACLE, José REMACLE, Anne RESIBOIS, Sven SAUSSEZ, Elke SMITS, Piet STINISSEN, Jean-Pierre TIMMERMANS, André TROUET, Frank VANDENABEELE, Eric VAN MARC.

Professors Jean BRACHET, Albert CLAUDE, Maurice CHEVREMONT, Christian DE DUVE, Jacques MULNARD, Lucien VAKAET and Herman VAN DEN BERGHE accepted to support the society in quality of Honorary President.

It is to be underlined that the BSC(D)B has remained of national character. As far as the compositi­on of the Executive Committee is concerned, the best equilibrium has always been sought between the members of our two main communities, as well as between the representatives of the various universities and research centres of the country.

THE SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES OF THE SOCIETY

Up to now, a large number of ordinary meetings have been organised. If gratitude is due to the members of the Executive Committee for having fully accomplished and developed the missions which they were entrusted with, an equal gratitude must be paid to the colleagues who have accepted to ensure the local organisation and the success of the meetings. In the beginning, the programmes of the ordinary meetings were restricted to four conferences delivered by Belgian or foreign invited speakers of recognised competence in the theme of the meeting, followed by general discussions. From 1982 on, poster exhibitions were concurrently organised. Nowadays and since 1996, poster prices are awarded to the best selected posters. Since 1994, in order to encou­rage young researchers to expose their work, the meetings are open to short oral communications. On several occasions, the ordinary meetings were organised in co-operation with Belgian biological sister-societies. Besides of the ordinary meetings, the Society has been implicated in the organisation of a number of symposia or conferences, most of them in association with Belgian or foreign societies. Finally, the society has patronised several workshops organised by various laboratories particularly active in the management and development of modern techniques used by cell biologists.

THE INFORMATION MISSION

In conformity with that point of the regulation act, the members of the society have been regularly informed about the various national and international scientific events pertaining not only to cell biology, but also to all related biological and biomedical disciplines. This information activity was accomplished in the form of a periodical "newsletter" and has been considerably developed thanks to the work of Lucien Vakaet and Fernand Harrisson. The European Archives of Biology have published the proceedings of the society from 1972 to 1992. From 1993 to 2000, the proceedings appeared in Cell Biology International, the official journal of the International Federation for Cell Biology. Since 2003, all relevant information, including the proceedings, is available on the website of the Society.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO YOUNG RESEARCHERS

Since 1982, a number of grants has been awarded each year to provide financial assistance to young, paid-up members wishing to attend a meeting in the field of cell and developmental biology.

In 2006, a BSCDB PhD excellence award was created. The objectives of the PhD Excellence Award are to reward outstanding young scientists working in the field of cell and/or developmental biology, and to promote the mobility of these researchers and further their post-doctoral training. The first Award was given to Dr. Christa Maes (Leuven) at the Autumn meeting of 2006. The laureate in 2009 was Cathérine Creppe (Liège).

IN CONCLUSION

At the beginning of the 21st century, one may ascertain that the initiative of the late professor Maurice CHEVREMONT has proved to be a great success. The society has realised and developed the objectives that were foreseen by its founders. By the organisation of meetings of high scientific standard, it has encouraged the encounter and contacts between Belgian biologists and promoted the interdisciplinary information, which was the major aim of the founders. It has ensured fruitful relations with Belgian and foreign sister societies as well as with international associations such as ECBO, EMBO, EDBO, ELSO, ISDB and IFSHC. It has encouraged the vocations for biological research by opening its meetings to the students, and has helped many young researchers by offering them grants for their active participation in scientific meetings. It has given its members the opportunity to hear renowned Belgian and foreign cell biologists, to know more about their work, and to discuss with them. Finally, in 2002, the society evolved to a Society for Cell and Developmental Biology.

Assay written by Prof. Dr. F. Harrisson. UA.

(updated in 2003-2012 by the BSCDB webmaster Rik Verschueren, VIB Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, UGent)

(Updated in 2013- by Jolanda van Hengel VIB Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, UGent. - E-mail : Jolanda.VanHengel@UGent.be)

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