By comparison to most other national pharmacological societies in Europe and the rest of the world, the BPS is currently in a strong financial position. In large part this is due to the continued financial success of our scientific journals and to sound financial management of our resources over the years.

The question then arises as to what purposes should these resources be put and for whose benefit. Should we just spend the money on ourselves or should we also use it to promote pharmacology throughout the world? Indeed, in this day and age do we have any right to be isolationist when we have members from over 50 countries and when many of our journal editors are non UK based and manuscript submissions from outside the UK outnumber those from within?

Recently the BPS Council and Executive Committee have put in place a number of initiatives to support and enhance pharmacological research in the UK and worldwide. I thought it might be appropriate to devote my article in this issue of pA2 to outlining these for you. When gathered together I think that these initiatives make an impressive list and I hope, like me, you will take pride in what the BPS is trying to do.

At the international level:

  • The BPS will host and underwrite the EPHAR Congress in Manchester in the summer of 2008. The draft programme of symposia and plenary lectures has already been drawn up and it looks exceedingly good.
  • Financial support has been provided to the governing body of EPHAR for three years to assist this organisation in developing its other activities.
  • The Society now offers BPS membership at reduced subscription rates to pharmacologists in developing countries.
  • The BPS has committed funds over the next three years to maintain the NC-IUPHAR receptor and ion channel database. If you have not already done so you should log on to this site (follow the links to NC-IUPHAR from www.iuphar.org) to see just how comprehensive the information provided on this site has become.
  • At the IUPHAR Congress in Copenhagen in 2010, which will be the first integrated basic science and clinical pharmacology congress, the BPS will sponsor 3 one and a half-day focused meetings. Hopefully other organisations will follow our lead and thus the meeting will be a combined series of highly intensive sub-meetings with truly ‘molecule to bedside content’ all of which will be open to those attending the Congress.
  • In future years the BPS Meetings Committee will organise specialist research workshops for young pharmacologists from countries where the scientific infrastructure is not yet strong. These will allow these young pharmacologists to interact with leading UK scientists in an intensive, small group environment.
  • In June 2007 a delegation of senior members of the Society will visit several major pharmacological research centres in China to explore ways in which we can enhance collaborations between pharmacologists in China and the UK and to facilitate the publication  in our journals of some of the outstanding research currently being done in China .

As part of the 75th Anniversary Strategic Initiatives Fund new activities, that are more directly aimed at members in the UK , are also being developed. We propose to fund:

  • travel grants to help initiate research collaborations between UK and foreign based research groups.
  • grants for up to one year to provide salary support for outstanding young foreign postdoctoral researchers to come and work in UK laboratories while longer term funding is sought.
  • vacation scholarships to encourage school leavers and undergraduate students to specialise in pharmacology by working for a short period in an academic or industrial pharmacology laboratory.
  • Calls for applications for funding through these new schemes will be issued in due course via pA2 and email alerts to members.
  • Calls for applications for funding through these new schemes will be issued in due course via pA2 and email alerts to members.

In addition to the above activities that will continue to be supported by the Society are:

  • the pilot mentoring scheme for young women scientists.
  • the revamping of the BPS web site in order that it serves not only BPS members but also provides accurate information on drugs for the general public. Our charitable status requires us to provide benefit not only to members but also to society in general.
  • the Bain Fund to provide funds for student members to attend BPS meetings.

We and other financially strong biological societies in the UK have agreed to provide funding for the Biosciences Federation as it seeks to develop its role as the umbrella organisation for the biological sciences. We biologists do need a powerful, unified lobbying organisation to ensure that government bodies both in the UK and in the European Union are aware of our views, needs and expectations. Their latest report, an appeal for the strengthening of the teaching of practical skills, appears in the adjacent columns.

From the above it is clear that the BPS in now much more than just a group of pharmacologists organising scientific meetings. I hope you agree that we are using our resources wisely and effectively to promote pharmacology in an international as well as a national context.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the 2007 Life Sciences Meeting in Glasgow.

Graeme Henderson