IASL is one of the oldest international organizations fighting against liver and biliary tract diseases. It was established in 1958, aiming to train experts in hepatology; encourage basic and clinical research; facilitate internationally the prevention, recognition and treatment of diseases of the liver and biliary tract.
1958, Washington DC (USA). By-laws approved by General Assembly, September 17, 1986, Caracas (Venezuela).
||Thomas D Boyer
IASL Inaugural Meeting, London, 1960
The IASL at 50: past, present and future perspectives
- Niels Tygstrup (President 1974–1978)
- The most encouraging and memorable event during my period as an officer of IASL was that the global aspects and obligations of IASL were consolidated by the agreement to link it with the African, the American, the Asian‐Pacific, the European and the Latin American liver associations as constitutive associations, from which IASL presidents were elected, and with whom IASL biennial meetings were to be held consecutively. At that period IASL was appointed a nongovernmental organization (NGO) to World Health Organization (WHO) with several projects on global incidence and prevalence of liver diseases in mind. The appointment was later withdrawn when the role of NGOs was redefined.
Lawrie W. Powell (President 1986–1988)
- The prime aim of Popper, Sherlock and Martini in establishing the IASL was to ensure that hepatology flourished internationally and not simply in North America and Europe. After 50 years we can look back and say this has now been achieved spectacularly with active associations in all regions of the world. I will focus my comments on the Asian‐Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) as it is this region that I have been most involved with. The APASL was established in 1978 by Okuda, Powell, Seah Cheng Sian (Singapore) and Vikit Viranuvatti (Thailand). The constitution was based on the IASL
James L. Boyer (President 1988–1990)
- The 1990 IASL Meeting was held on 3–5 September at a beautiful location at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia. The IASL meeting immediately followed the World Congress of Gastroenterology, which was held in Sydney. Thus there were a large number of international participants and very few of the invited speakers were unable to come because of the traveling distance and cost. The IASL Council also made a special effort to support traveling fellowships for junior investigators who submitted abstracts.
- During the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s, the IASL played an important role in increasing the visibility of the specialty of Hepatology, particularly in the Asian‐Pacific and South American constituencies. In addition, these meetings helped to foster friendships and scientific collaborations across international boundaries that enriched the lives of its participants.
Didier Lebrec (President 2002–2004)
- In 1998, the EASL members elected me to be a member of the IASL Executive Committee, in the ‘chain’ of Vice‐President, President‐Elect and President. I was in charge of organizing the IASL meeting in 2004, which was held in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, as a joint meeting with the Latin American Association (ALEH)
- During my period as a member of the IASL Executive Committee in 2003, we were able to create Liver International with Editors from the five continents and special help from Peter Jansen. Finally, I would like to especially thank Jenny Heathcote and Wolfgang Caselmann, Secretary‐Treasurers, for all their help.
Ding‐Shinn Chen (President 2004–2006)
- The Association has worked in concert with the continental associations, and our collaborations have been generally excellent. For example, when I served as the President in 2004–2006, IASL and the African Association for the Study of the Liver Diseases (AASLD) held an extremely successful joint meeting in Cairo. The meeting attracted thousands of physicians, especially from the Middle East. After the meeting, the Executive Committee realized that education should also be a very important mission of IASL. This is especially meaningful for the developing world. As the continental associations are becoming stronger, we should find the best way for our collaboration, so that all over the world, patients with liver disease can receive good care.
Gamal Esmat (President 2006–2008)
- A remarkable moment in the history of medical conferences in Egypt: the late Prof. Fouad Thakeb on behalf of AASLD, in 2004 wins the bid to host the 2006 biennial IASL meeting in Cairo. Why remarkable? IASL 2006 was the biggest international meeting in hepato‐gastroentrology in the Middle East. Three thousand five hundred participants from 72 countries submitted 400 abstracts, representing a record participation.
- The death of Prof. Mohamed Medwar, AASLD President in 2004, followed by the sudden unexpected death of Prof. Thakeb in May 2005 shattered all who knew them. Many thought that the IASL 2006 conference would not take place. However, before his death, Prof. Thakeb, then President – Elect of IASL, had wisely organized a broad coalition of all regional hepatology and GI associations with the goal of making this conference a success.
- To stimulate regional and international attendance, IASL 2006 was promoted at local, regional and international hepatology and liver surgery conferences. Booths were rented wherever possible to advertise and distribute promotional materials for the event. Conferences in Vienna, Milan, Mumbai, Prague, Paris, London, Damascus, Beirut, Sharjah, Moscow, Shanghai and several North American cities were targeted. Never before in the history of medical conferences in Middle East had a significant portion of the budget been allocated for marketing and promotional purposes.
Thomas D. Boyer (President‐Elect)
- IASL was founded 50 years ago with the goal to spread the discipline of hepatology throughout the world. This was to be done by holding the biennial meeting of IASL with one of the continental societies on a rotating basis. Needless to say the goal of the founders has been achieved. Successful Associations are present in Africa, South American, Asia‐Pacific, Europe and North America and each holds multiple meetings that discuss scientific and clinical issues in hepatology. Now that the discipline of hepatology has been spread throughout the world is there any need for an association such as IASL?
- I believe IASL is needed as much today as it was 50 years ago. This belief is based on a lack of educational opportunities for most physicians with an interest in liver disease outside of large international meetings. It is difficult for local societies, especially in emerging countries, to have international experts attend their regional meetings. Experts attending smaller meetings could help spread the most current information to physicians and extenders who are unable to attend large international meetings and help these individuals acquire the needed skills to perform excellent clinical trials in their countries. I feel the latter role is perhaps the most important as with local clinician‐investigators learning how to do clinical research the international community will benefit. Currently the continental societies hold excellent meetings that focus on postgraduate courses and research, but provide limited opportunities to learn how to perform and report good clinical studies.
- In the future IASL will continue to work with the continental societies and participate in their annual meetings. Because of the international nature of our society we bring a different perspective to the postgraduate course and scientific portion of the meeting. For example, in 2006 we had an outstanding meeting with the African Association in which we held a joint post‐graduate course and scientific sessions. In this meeting our role was to bring international experts to a congress they might otherwise not have attended. At this year's AASLD meeting our role is quite different in which our postgraduate course and scientific sessions are separate. Our participation adds a different flavor to this excellent meeting. It is for these reasons that we will continue to work with the continental societies.
- IASL, however, must reach beyond this traditional role if we are to fulfill our mission. We are focused on education and not on growing our society as an organization. The money we receive from our participation in the meetings of the continental societies is modest. In celebration of our 50th anniversary we reached out to the pharmaceutical industry to help financially support new initiatives, but with only modest success. Despite these limitations we plan to partner with local societies to bring expertise to their countries. We are working with physicians in China to provide courses on topics of particular interest to that country. We plan similar endeavors in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia. In addition, we will work with local Associations in emerging countries to develop courses on how to perform clinical trials and write papers. Young physician‐scientists in these countries would be the target audience for these courses.
- Fifty years into its history IASL is at a time of transition. The needs of the international hepatology community have changed and it is up to IASL to adjust. We are excited about our continuing association with the continental societies but also excited about new initiatives and their impact on hepatology in emerging counties. This is a critical time for IASL and we must move in new directions to remain an important part of international education in hepatology. The executive committee is committed to this new vision.