The Belgian Immunological Society (BIS)
Board of Directors (anno 2021)
The Belgian Immunological Society (BIS) was created in February 1978 by researchers interested in both the clinical and the fundamental aspects of Immunology. The Society includes today about 100 members from all major Belgian Universities and from Research Institutes such as the WIV-ISP (Former Pasteur Institute of Brussels), the De Duve Institute in Brussels and the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp.
The role of a national society in a small country like ours is a matter of debate. Belgium has a privileged central location in Europe, and its multilingual status (there are three official languages in Belgium, Dutch, French and German) has naturally led Belgian scientists to develop numerous collaborations within Europe.
We believe however that a national scientific society has a major role to play in Belgium, as an invaluable tool to promote interactions among scientists working in the same or closely related fields. Scientists or students interested in Immunology (working in Belgium or abroad) are invited to join the society. Membership offers free access to annual meetings. The main activity of the Society is to organize an annual meeting, generally hosted by one of the participating Universities or Institutes. Although one or two foreign speakers are generally invited to these one-day meetings the main purpose of our annual reunion is to provide an opportunity for young scientists to present their work (through posters and oral presentations) to a large panel of Belgian Immunologists. The Society has been able to offer limited travel grants to selected young members, enabling them to attend major International meetings. We hope, with the help of our sponsors (mostly private industries) to be able to continue to support our young members. Recently, several scientists working in private companies have joined the Society, which has therefore become a means by which researchers from industrial and academic backgrounds could come together and discuss. The Society is also interested in holding joint meetings with other societies as done in the past with French and Dutch Immunological Societies. Finally, the Society represents Belgian Immunologists to external organizations within Belgium, Europe (EFIS) and the world (IUIS) and has been able, through e-mailings to its members, to disseminate information concerning international meetings or to provide reduced subscriptions to scientific journals.
In 2022, Kris Huygen (BIS secretary 1998-2017) wrote "A brief history of the BIS (1978-2017)":