I remember sitting at my desk three years ago, as I planned my first BPS meeting as VP Meetings, and wondering what had possessed me to agree to take on this job (those of you who read my first pA2 report will remember my reference to Scottish taxidermy in case I needed to repay my predecessor for persuading me to take on the job!). I’m sure that Mandy Maclean is also thinking much the same thing now (but with a Bristolian flavour) as I write this. Well, looking back now I can honestly say that it has been a real pleasure and a privilege and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
My approach was very simple in the end. I tried to put on meetings to which I wanted to go - and thankfully many of you agreed to turn up too! The BPS has got to be one of the best societies to run meetings for. I have always been amazed at how most people are willing to take on refereeing duties and other jobs without a word of complaint (and usually at very short notice!).
I’ll give you two examples: Steve Alexander, at short notice, agreed to chair a session on ion channels at the Oxford meeting (I persuaded him that it would look good on his CV!) and Dave Kendall agreed to referee some endothelium posters at even shorter notice (his mistake was to walk into the poster session looking for a coffee!).
Thanks to many of you for your help, but especially those from my own department/university in Nottingham, who have been used as referees etc. for more times than the statistical average says they should have.
The Oxford meeting was probably my most ambitious project, but also in keeping with the final activity of our 75th anniversary year. Luisa Hambley excelled herself in organising the venue and turning the rabbit warren of rooms within the Examination Schools into a highly professional meeting environment. In her spare time she also put together the 75th Anniversary Dinner at Keble (which was absolutely stunning) and a black tie dinner at Wadham College (the venue for the very first ever BPS meeting).
At this latter event I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the sentiments conveyed by Graeme Henderson in his after-dinner speech of the impact that the BPS and its senior members have had on the development of his career. Many of us owe a huge debt to the previous generation of pharmacologists as a result of the interest, support, advice and constructive criticism that previous senior members of the society paid to our own BPS presentations in the formative years of our careers. It will take time to repay but I hope that members of the society will see that active participation in the poster and oral communication sessions is where you can begin to reduce your tab. For my own part, I have some way to go yet to clear the outstanding balance.
At Oxford we produced a wide-ranging programme with thirteen symposia, some exceptional prize lectures and the usual diet of oral and poster communications. The new poster approval system appeared to work well (although I have still not worked out how I ended up with a green spot on my name badge!) and we managed to run four parallel oral communication sessions on some of the days.
The symposia included the inaugural Young Pharmacologist of the Year competition sponsored by TiPS, and I am delighted to report that this is to become an annual event (with continuing support from TiPS). The first competition was won by Alyson Miller, who had travelled all the way from Melbourne in Australia to take part.
The standard was absolutely stunning and we enjoyed six exceptional presentations. It confirmed to me that British pharmacology is in good shape, even if our universities and pharmaceutical companies are removing the word from their departmental titles.
I would like to thank all of you who have supported me over the last three years. It has been great fun and I will see you all in Glasgow for Life Sciences 2007.
I’m now off to the lab to work on my abstract for Brighton.
S J Hill
PS: Mandy - Good luck, and enjoy! The poster referee database and an algorithm for automatically assigning those who repeatedly avoid poster refereeing to the last Friday afternoon oral communication slot are in the post!