President's Message: Conversations at home and abroad promise connections, collaboration and change

Published: 29 Apr 2022

British Pharmacological Society staff, including Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, at Experimental Biology 2022

With the clocks changing, and the days lasting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, this often seems to allow us to pack more into our days. And judging by the amount of progress since my last blog, that certainly appears to be the case at the Society. In other words, it’s been a busy few months.

I write to you just a few weeks after returning from the Experimental Biology conference in Philadelphia, USA, which I attended with our CEO, Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, and some of the team from the Society. Following such a long absence from in-person meetings, it was uplifting and hugely encouraging to gather with thousands of other scientific colleagues for face-to-face discussions, poster presentations and quality networking. On that note, I took the opportunity while at the conference to meet with the leadership of ASPET, the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to discuss issues of joint interest such as journals and our interactions with The International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR). This was the last meeting of Experimental Biology and in 2023 ASPET will have a standalone meeting in St Louis (18th – 21st May 2023) and we discussed ways of how the British Pharmacological Society can work proactively together at this and future meetings. As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, our discussions with ASPET about meetings, journals, common challenges and how pharmacologists played a critical role in responding to the pandemic, left me very positive about how we can further increase the profile of pharmacology as an important discipline around the world.

And speaking of journals, when it comes to international recognition for the Society there is perhaps no greater vehicle for sharing the fantastic research pharmacologists get up to than publication in one of our highly respected journals. These have been growing year on year in terms of stature and impact, and so I’m incredibly grateful to the Society’s Research Dissemination team for recently securing new agreements with our publisher Wiley, and to the hard work of our Editors-in-Chief and their editorial boards. These new agreements with our partners at Wiley not only allow us to carry on publishing these flagship journals, but also importantly guarantee the Society an income stream that will contribute substantially towards the ensuring of its sustainability.

The Experimental Biology conference visit also provided a fantastic platform for the team and I to talk to other delegates about the World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 2023 (WCP2023) that we are hosting in Glasgow next July. I’ve been pleased to see the considerable effort the team at the British Pharmacological Society is dedicating to the organisation of this important event to bring the international pharmacology community together. I am delighted to be able to share with you the finalised programme, available online or as a downloadable PDF, with a line-up that opens with an intriguing and no-doubt thought-provoking session from Professor Garett Fitzgerald - 'The Grey matter of Sand and Sky - Dimensions of a Discipline for the 21st Century'. WCP2023 will be yet another incredible chance to showcase pharmacology on an international platform, and we are expecting several thousand people to attend. With that in mind, I do encourage you to participate - be that as a congress partner, by presenting your latest research, or as a delegate.  

On the topic of abstracts, I’d also like to add a quick reminder that the abstract deadline for Pharmacology 2022 is fast approaching. You have until 6 May to send your abstract for our annual meeting on the 13 and 14 September in Liverpool. Registration is open too, and we look forward to seeing you all there for our first in-person annual meeting since 2019.

While these meetings are incredibly important, they are just one of many ways in which the British Pharmacological Society engages with the pharmacological community. In my first blog as President, I talked about prioritising our engagement with the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.’ Since then, President-elect Professor Sir Mark Caufield and I have had several positive discussions with a number of organisations, as well as Dr Steve Rees, the Society’s Industry Trustee about improving relations with industry and the broader pharmacology community. As a result, we are developing a number of initiatives, including joint events with other relevant organisations such as the British Society of Toxicology, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and the Physiological Society towards finding further mutually beneficial ways to work together.

I also highlighted, in my previous blog, the importance of our Society doing our utmost to support the next generation of pharmacologists. With that in mind, I’m pleased to let you know that I am working towards ensuring that from 2023, the AJ Clark Studentship, will return to being fully funded by the Society. I strongly believe that this will encourage a more diverse cohort of people to apply - which is crucial for the future of our discipline. In terms of funding for the more immediate future, we still have a number of bursaries available.

Finally, I’d like to close my blog this month, by congratulating and thanking all those involved with the personalised prescribing pharmacogenomics report, which launched at the end of March. The report – ‘Personalised prescribing: using pharmacogenomics to improve patient outcomes’ – explains how a type of testing, known as pharmacogenomic testing, should be deployed across the NHS to ensure all patients have an equal chance of being prescribed a medicine at a dose that is likely to be safe and effective for them. It was jointly researched and written by the Society and the Royal College of Physicians, and has been widely recognised as a very high-quality piece of work, with substantial media coverage across mainstream publications and broadcasters due to the excellent interviews given by my predecessor, Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, and by our President Elect, Professor Sir Mark Caulfield. This report is a fantastic example of how the British Pharmacological Society is actively working to raise the profile of pharmacology and in helping our subject receives the international recognition it deserves.


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