First of all, thank you for being a part of the ECTS family. This is hugely appreciated and a great way to help advance science in the bone and calcified tissue area and the Board of the ECTS would like to reciprocate by providing you with new opportunities to build your research network and career. One visible change to the organisation is that the Board will propose an update to the ECTS Statutes so that the President will be elected directly by the members in the future. We will work hard to keep the ECTS delivering all the things the ECTS always has done and we will do everything to remove barriers and keep the ECTS inclusive, diverse, welcoming and professional.
I owe Anna Teti huge thanks for led the ECTS over the past years as President. It has not been an easy task with the challenges involved in keeping the society afloat financially and thriving scientifically. Certainly, 2020 has posed new challenges to the ECTS with the need to postpone the annual conference and move it to an online format so that everyone can take part, in spite of any local travel restrictions or concerns about making international journeys.
In May of 2021 we will have the ECTS Conference in Brussels and 2021 will also have an ECTS PhD Course and our new ECTS Clinical Course, with locations to be announced soon. The preparations for the ECTS 2022 conference in Helsinki are also very well on track as is the 2023 conference. I am hugely grateful to all those members who are working tirelessly on the Scientific Programme Committees and Local Organising Committees to make those meetings exciting, varied and informative.
Behind the scenes there has been a lot of work involved in setting up the ECTS as a European Charity to make sure that all activities can continue irrespective of the future status of the United Kingdom in relationship to the EU. We continue to be a scientific society for all of Europe and a society that welcomes researchers from the whole world. There will continue to be ECTS activities all over Europe irrespective of walls or borders coming and going, as befits a society that is more than fifty years old and, and we will continue to have meetings and courses in the UK.
The ECTS Board develops a strategic plan every four years and the plan for 2020-2023 came into being through a process of a January membership survey to members – corporate and individual – to make sure we could be responsive to any changing needs and ideas. With this, the ECTS can remain very much the organisation that many of us grew up in as bone researchers, yet continue to provide new value to science and to the membership in changing circumstances.
Needless to say, the ECTS mission is the same as always: To promote excellence in the field and benefit to patients. At the same time we must also work hard to continue to build careers and networks for all our members. The ECTS deeply embraces excellence, inclusion and want to foster collaboration and transparency.
You could say that with a third of the ECTS membership already being involved in ECTS committee work, action group work etc, inclusion is going well and transparency should not be a problem. However, many things about how decisions are made and how you can get involved was not immediately clear to me for many years as an ECTS member and the Board is strongly committed to making our governance – which is really very solid – also visibly transparent.
I am confident that our procedures prevent favouritism but of course we have to make sure these written procedures are available so that members and conference can see for themselves how our organisation works and how to get involved. This needs to be very nuts and bolts. If I would like to be a session chair then what is the first step? How do I get involved in ECTS action groups? How do I get to teach on ECTS courses or take part in writing guideline papers? All this need to be visibly transparent and straightforward. There will be people who would like to be more involved in the day-to-day activities of the ECTS. This is fantastic and we must find ways of making the most of this. At the same time many volunteers, committee and board members struggle with too high a work load and this too could be a barrier at times to communicating clearly with the members.
All this highlights the need for good and responsive communications. As you can imagine, the ECTS does not have a huge permanent staff like some larger societies and the success of our activities depend very much on members giving their time to the society. Volunteers and staff are working on tidying up and improving accessibility for our website and on strengthening our social media outreach. Feedback would be most welcome.
The ECTS must be of real value to the members and it is of course a challenge to meet needs that are quite different for senior vs younger members. We will set up new initiatives to attract and help earlier stage researchers with initiatives aimed at those only just starting out in the bone field.
We will continue our collaborations and joint sessions with other societies and seek to expand these for even more opportunities for our members and for further highlighting the importance of calcified tissue research to researchers in neighbouring fields. It is also really important for the field that we try to
help put the national societies in a stronger positiion and help organize joint PhD training in countries with developing economies. The ECTS should have members in all countries in Europe and I and the Board will work hard to achieve this.
I am looking forward to working with you all on the future activities of the ECTS and hope that you will continue to be an active member of our Society and that we can support each other in advancing science and scientific careers.