President’s Blog

Posted on June 27, 2014
John Challis

As this issue of ISB Now was in preparation one of our long-time members, Arthur Chapman, passed away. Arthur was active at ISB Congresses through to the 1990’s, including presenting a keynote at one congress. My memories of Arthur go back to a visit he made to his alma mater, Loughborough University, when I was a student there. At the time he was very enthusiastic, and seemed equally keen to talk about his research or to find suitable opponents to challenge at squash. A fixture at ISB Congresses for many years, he will be missed. More details about Arthur can be found elsewhere in this issue of ISB Now.

As I write, the soccer World Cup has just started, and it is an interesting coincidence that this year the World Cup is in Brazil, and we held our 2013 Congress in Natal, Brazil, while in 2009 we held our Congress in Cape Town, South Africa and the 2010 World Cup was in South Africa. It makes me wonder if there is some covert connection between the ISB and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). At the moment FIFA are embroiled in discussions about their selection process for the 2022 World Cup venue. I thought I would use my space to explain the selection process that the ISB uses for our congresses.

The ISB holds its congresses every two years, with the invitation to submit bids circulated approximately four years in advance of a congress year. Bids are often voluminous and cover information on venue, congress format, hotels, projected registration fees, budget, and local attractions. Once the bids are received they are shortlisted after review by the ISB Council. The shortlisted bids are invited to make a presentation of their bid to the Council. These bid presentations occur approximately three years before the planned congress. This year we will be reviewing bids before the World Congress in Boston, in 2012 we reviewed bids after the ISEK Conference in Brisbane. The bid teams make presentations to the ISB Council providing details about their bid, and answer specific questions from Council members. The meeting concludes with a vote to select the future congress host.

What are the criteria used by the council for selecting a host? In any vote we all have certain biases, but there are many issues which are considered. For example, geographical spread of the congresses is an important issue. The ISB is an international society and we want to make sure the congress locations reflect our international mission. The last congress was held in Brazil, and this was our first congress in South America. While the congress was in Brazil various committees of the ISB used this opportunity to promote biomechanics throughout the continent. There has been a lot of recent activity from various countries in South America suggesting that this was successful. I like to pay attention to the cost of the congress, as this is an important issue for many delegates. Cost of course is not just the registration fees, as these are only a portion of the total expense for delegates; so the cost of hotel accommodation, food, and transportation are important considerations. There is a traditional format to an ISB Congress and the hope is that the bids will reflect this tradition while adding some local flavor. I am always impressed by the expertise around the table when the council reviews bids; many council members have organized a conference so understand the logistics of conference preparation. At the end of our meeting the winner is selected and feedback to all of the bidders provided.

roweisb2015logoThe production of a bid is a lot of work, but for future hosts the hard work is only about to begin. It is also often the case that despite the best planning there is some unforeseen circumstance which during the congress has the organizers running around fixing problems. Remember that the hosts organize the conference, including the scientific program, all for the good of the society with little reward other than a pat on the back. It is often claimed that US presidents age more rapidly during their term in office (e.g., Olshansky, S.J. JAMA 306(21), 2328-9), and I suspect the same can be said of our congress organizers. Of course, at the end of the congress there is no lucrative book contract, or lecture tour, that accrue to retiring politicians, our congress organizers simply return to their regular duties (probably with a backlog to clear due to having to neglect their normal work in the run-up and during the conference). Our team for the ISB 2015 Congress in Glasgow has already been very busy working on exhibitors and inviting speakers. To the right is a picture of Phil Rowe who heads the Glasgow team. This is a before picture; hopefully the after picture will not reflect accelerated ageing!

To all who have bid on a congress and to those who have hosted an ISB Congress the ISB and its membership are in your debt, and we continue to offer you our thanks.





John Challis

Penn State University


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