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Letter from the President, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

It is with both a sense of honor and some trepidation that I submit my first President’s Letter. I am honored to have this opportunity to communicate with you as President of the International BioIron Society (IBIS), a society whose research focus is on iron, a topic to which I have devoted much of my scientific career. The trepidation comes from attempting to meet the high standard established by Antonello Pietrangelo, the first president of our society. Isaac Newton is reported to have said that “a dwarf can see further than a giant, if he stands on a giant’s shoulders.” Antonello was the founding father of IBIS and the society was started in large part because of his enthusiasm and dedication. IBIS and I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

Along the same vein, many thanks are due to Prem Ponka. Under his guidance, this was the first BIOIRON meeting convened under the authority of IBIS. BIOIRON 2005 was held in Prague this spring and was an enormous success. Both the science and the city were wonderful. Myself, and others, can attest to the extraordinary effort that Prem and his co-chair Kostas Pontopoulos expended to make this a successful meeting. This was the largest BioIron meeting ever held.

The Society also owes a great debt of gratitude to the sponsors of the meeting, which include: Novartis, the National Institute of Health (US), the Center for Disease Control (US), the Diamond-Blackfan Foundation, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, ApoPharma, Iron Disorders Institute, Vifor AG Roche Diagnostics GMBH, Sigma-Aldrichs Co., Xenon Pharmaceuticals, EMBO, Vienna Labordiagnostika GMBH, Biochemical Journal. Thanks are also owed the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) for their support for speakers to attend this meeting. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the Guarant Corporation and, in particular, Kristina Pichanicova, for their efforts in organizing BIOIRON 2005.

Several awards were given at this meeting. The award for the Best Young Scientist, referred to as the President’s Award, went to Dr. Barry Paw for his study that identified a mutation in a mitochondrial transporter as being responsible for microcytic anemia in a mutant zebrafish. This award was graciously provided by Novartis and included an honorarium for $5,000.

An award for the Best Poster in Basic Science was graciously funded by the Biochemical Journal and included an honorarium of $500. This award went to J. H. Cheah, who presented a poster entitled “Dexras 1 regulates transferring-mediated iron trafficking in the brain.”

IBIS also presented an award of $500 for the Best Poster in Clinical Science, which went to Martin Delatycki for a poster entitled “The Healthiron Study: Results from a Pilot Study of Modifiers of HFE.”

The Marcel Simon Award ($1,500) was given to three individuals in recognition of their discovery of hepdicin: Drs. Tomas Ganz, Sophie Vaulont and Olivier Loreal. This award was funded by The Margrit Krikker, M.D. Endowment Fund.

Dr. Margrit Krikker was a strong supporter of the BioIron community as part of her efforts to affect a cure and raise public consciousness about Hemochromatosis. In the past, Dr. Krikker provided financial support for the Marcel Simon Award. Dr. Krikker passed away this year, graciously leaving the majority of her estate to IBIS. Currently, the estate has provided $150,000 and there is an expectation of more support when the estate is finally settled. With the consent of the IBIS Board, the $150,000 has been invested in short-term U.S. Certificates of Deposit (CD’s). These CDs are currently yielding about 3.5% and are completely insured so that they are risk-free. (Thankfully, so I don’t have to have sleepless nights).

Dr. Krikker’s Will has several stipulations. One is that the endowment be used to provide $1,500 to the Marcel Simon Award, which is given every other year. The award will now read “The Marcel Simon Award funded by ‘The Margrit Krikker, M.D. Endowment Fund.’” (Dr. Krikker’s first name on many official documents is Margaret but she was also known as Margrit. In her will she stipulated use of the name Margrit for the endowments).

A second stipulation is that every other year grant(s) of up to $5,000 be expended for research. The exact number of grants will be determined by the IBIS Board based on financial returns from the investment of the endowment. The grants will be known as research grants awarded from the “The Margrit Krikker, M.D. Endowment Fund”. The Board and I would like to solicit suggestions as to how we can meet that obligation in the most effective way.

I would also like to thank the departing members of the IBIS Board for their service. These individuals were responsible for helping to make the Prague meeting a success, but perhaps even more enduring, they were responsible for starting and formalizing the BioIron Society.

New members of the board include:
Pierre Brissot, President-Elect
Robert Fleming
Kathryn Robson
Gra├ža Porto

Dr. Yukata Kogho is an Ex-Officio Board Member. Dr. Kogho is head of the local organizing committee for BIOIRON 2007, which will be held Kyoto, Japan, from April 1 – 6, 2007.

The new members of the IBIS Board continue the tradition of both basic and clinical science, reflecting the international nature of IBIS.


Jerry Kaplan, Ph.D.
President, IBIS

posted: January 1, 2005