Well, that’s it, the BPS 75th Anniversary is over and after a year of celebrations, as they say in Scotland, it’s back tae auld claes and purridge’. I have in my more wistful moments allowed myself to believe that my second year as BPS President might be less taxing if perhaps also slightly less exciting than my first. However, life is never as one plans and as you will gather from what is outlined at the end of this article, this year already looks like being a busy one.

It will be spring by the time this issue of pA2 is distributed but at the time of writing it is still darkest January, and for some like myself the only relief from the seemingly eternal winter gloom has been the annual celebration of Burns Night. Apparently there are now more Burns Suppers held in England than in Scotland which to some Scots may seem like another example of the pillaging of our national treasures by southern neighbours. But then, celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday in late April would be much less attractive as by then the nights will be lighter, the daffodils will have bloomed and summer will be just around the corner. Also, exporting haggis as some sort of national delicacy to the unsuspecting English is sure to raise a smile up north.

In his memoirs J K Galbraith relates how his alma mater, the University of Guelph, awarded him its first honorary degree. On the morning of the ceremony he rose early and walked around the beautiful campus recalling by the newspapers that they are awarding you one of those honorary degrees. Well, if I had my way they’d be taking away the degree you already have’. I think this is what Burns had in mind when he wrote the line ‘To see oorsels as ithers see us’.

Those of us who are academics can probably think of a number of ex-students to whom we should like to make a similar rejoinder but before we do so, we might be advised to pause and consider what our own professors would say of us!

Does your BPS make a difference?

In the near future, a number of initiatives with which the BPS has been involved will be developed further or actually come to fruition.

First, following on from meetings early in 2007, the Clinical Section, in combination with the GMC and other stakeholders, will be developing plans to ensure that in future young doctors receive suitable training in drug prescribing. It has now been accepted that current levels of training can be improved as was highlighted by the BPS at one of its media briefings last summer. So you see, we can have influence.

Second, the first students have been enrolled for the BPS Diploma in Advanced Pharmacology and three workshops scheduled during the year. One of my own postdocs, whose training was in molecular neuro-science and not pharmacology, will be studying for this diploma. I am looking forward to our lab meetings after he has done the Receptor Theory workshop, when I will no longer have to explain to him concepts that are fundamental to pharmacological research.

Finally, those universities that received grants under the Capacity Building Awards in Integrative Mammalian Biology scheme in which the BPS played a significant role are moving forward, hiring new staff as well as research students and developing new courses. This is just one of a number of ways in which the BPS has sought to re-invigorate in vivo research and teaching in the UK.

Sad news

Finally, most members will have already heard that Sarah-Jane Stagg, our Executive Officer, has decided after nearly 14 years with the BPS and after steering the Society through its 75th Anniversary celebrations, that she feels it is time for her to move on to seek new challenges elsewhere.

The news of Sarah-Jane’s resignation broke just as this issue of pA2 was going to press and so there was not sufficient time to put together a full article that truly did justice to all of her contributions to the Society over the years. There will be an ‘appreciation’ of Sarah-Jane in the next edition of pA2 as well as hopefully some reminiscences from Sarah-Jane herself on her time with us.

So, there goes my dream of a nice restful final year as BPS President! But we must move on and begin to see this unexpected development as an opportunity. Council and the Executive Committee will be meeting shortly to discuss the way forward. Sarah-Jane largely created and grew into her current role and her departure provides us with an opportunity to consider what type of Executive Officer the Society will need to take our administration forward to meet the changes and challenges that lie ahead. Members will be kept informed of what is happening on this front.

Graeme Henderson