President’s Message: Goodbye, and thank you

Published: 08 Dec 2023

As I approach the end of my term as President of the Society, I am reflecting on what a unique, challenging, and rewarding two years it has been.

I started my term in January 2022 with a simple but bold objective – to ‘shout from the rooftops about pharmacology’. Throughout my term, I have worked with members, staff, and the wider pharmacology community to develop projects that demonstrate the impact our work has on wider science, and the benefit it can have for the public.

One of the things I am most proud of is the return to in-person meetings, something which we all missed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The success of Pharmacology 2022 in Liverpool and the World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology 2023 (WCP2023) in Glasgow reminded us of what we had missed out on whilst not being able to discuss our science face to face with friends and colleagues. The feedback on the quality of the scientific programme for WCP was almost universally positive and many delegates commented on the fantastic social programme and the smooth running of the event thanks to the hard work of the BPS team and the many volunteers who helped during the week of the meeting. I would like to personally thank Professor David Webb and Professor Amrita Ahluwhalia for their hard work in winning the bid for BPS to host WCP and to thank the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) once again for having the confidence in the BPS in allowing us to run such a prestigious event and for all their support of the meeting. Thanks also to all the members of the BPS team who worked hard over a number of years to ensure we delivered a successful meeting in Glasgow. 

Professor Clive Page (right) pictured with Professor Sir Mark Caulfield (left) at the World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology 2023.
Working with other societies was a key way I wanted us to get the word out about our work. Over the last two years we have collaborated with our friends and colleagues at The Physiological Society, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the European Association for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (EACPT), Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT), British Toxicology Society, the Federation of European Pharmacological Societies (EPHAR), and the European Laboratory Research & Innovation Group (ELRIG), to name but a few. These partnerships have allowed us to expand our reach and bring new scientific perspectives to our members and the wider scientific community. I am sure collaboration with other Societies will continue to be a priority for the BPS long after my Presidency has ended, and if you are a member of another society or organisation, I encourage you to reach out about working with the BPS.

To reflect the need to adapt to new ways of living and working post-pandemic, we entered 2022 with a new three-year strategy. From supporting clinical pharmacology and growing the reach of our journals to engaging Early Career Researchers and providing training, the strategy highlights a commitment to delivering work that benefits our members and the wider community of pharmacology, as well as providing opportunities to grow, network, learn and get involved.

We have worked on numerous projects to deliver these aims. One project, that was completed this year, is the independent review of the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) exam, chaired by Prof Dame Jane Dacre, which recommends the PSA is taken by all final year medical students. I would like to personally thank Dame Professor Dacre and her review committee for all their hard work. Additionally, we published new principles for inclusive pharmacology education in 2022, and worked with the Royal College of Physicians on the Personalised prescribing: using pharmacogenomics to improve patient outcomes report. These projects help us meet our core strategic objectives and showcase the diversity and impact of our work.

As well as steering our priorities and focus as a Society, it has also been my responsibility, as Chair of the Board, to ensure that we sustain the Society financially so that we can continue to deliver activities that benefit pharmacologists wherever they are for many years to come. As is the case for many learned societies in the UK, the increased impact of open access publishing is having a major impact on a key source of revenue that supports all that we do. This is a challenge that Council and I have needed to address during my Presidency and has meant that we have had to make challenging decisions around organisational structure of the BPS, and streamlining of our priorities to ensure that we have a long-term future that is financially sustainable.

Involvement in membership organisations and learned societies can be career-changing for some, providing life-long friends and colleagues, access to funding and prizes, and opportunities to share your work. Some of the best ways you can support the BPS are to spread the word about our work, join us at events and training workshops, consider our journals to publish your science in, and get involved in a subcommittee or Trustee role.

As we move into 2024, we do so ready to bring you more events, continue platforming the best scientific research in our journals, and support member projects. I am pleased to pass the baton to Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, who I am sure will tell you more about his aims as President in the new year. With Mark at the helm, your Society is in safe hands and I wish him and the BPS every success for the future. I would also like to welcome and congratulate the new President-elect, Cherry Wainwright, and Trustees, Professors James Ritter and Michael Spedding, who I am sure will support Mark in delivering his vision for the BPS and ensure we remain at the forefront of pharmacology research and education in the UK and further afield.  I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Amrita Ahluwalia for making the Clarivate 2023 list of the most highly cited researchers – a very significant achievement.

Finally, I would like to thank the BPS staff team, Trustees and members for their hard work and impressive contributions to the many achievements as a Society over the last two years. It has been my privilege to serve as BPS President, and I will continue to support the Society and its aims for many years to come.


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