by Miguel Vicente
On June 29,2009, the European Academy of Microbiology (EAM) was established in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The objective of the academy is to provide a voice for European microbiology and to foster its quality and dissemination within Europe. Its goals include the expansion of scientific knowledge regarding key issues of microbiological relevance, fostering meetings and congresses, and establishing advanced courses.
The EAM will include microbiologists with a notable record of publication, patents or inventions, significant achievements in clinical work or teaching, and contributions to the microbiological community.
The founding members, about 100 in number, include professionals from various countries and scientific fields, including seven from Spain. Future fellows will be selected from suggestions by the current members. The objective is to maintain the high scientific standards of the EAM, to represent all branches of microbiology, and to include all of the countries represented in the Federation of European Microbiology Societies (FEMS), which helped launch the Academy.
The current president of FEMS, Milton da Costa, presided over the inaugural ceremonies. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Rino Rappuoli, the director of the Novartis Vaccine Institute for Global Health, a non-profit institute founded in 2007. Rappuoli described advances at their institute. He pointed out that, whereas in the 20th century the goal of vaccines was to prevent childhood infections, the goal in the 21st century is to produce vaccines for both young and old, and which will help alleviate emergent infections. Their efforts are currently directed towards vaccines against diarrhea, the meningococcus (which causes other serious infections besides meningitis among children in underdeveloped countries), and against the Type A H1N1 influenza virus.
At present, important aspects of microbiology and infectious diseases do not receive their proper emphasis. The creation of the new academy combined with the founding of a non-profit institute by a pharmaceutical company give us hope for the future.