In 1990, a Nordic group known as “Projektstyregruppen for Fiskeimmunologi” was established under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Their primary mission was to foster collaboration among the Nordic countries in fish immunology. The impetus for this initiative and the necessary funding originated from the Nordisk Programkomité for Bioteknologi, or NPB. Torger Börresen assumed the role of coordinating the inception of the immunology group, with the overarching goal of uniting researchers from across the Nordic region in a concerted effort to combat diseases in aquaculture.
The inaugural meeting of the immunology group took place in Copenhagen in 1990, with the following representatives in attendance: Torger Börresen and Claus Koch from Denmark, Sinikka Pelkonen from Finland, Sigridur Gudmundsdottir from Iceland, Trond Jörgensen from Norway, and Lars Pilström from Sweden. Over the subsequent three years, coinciding with the period for which the Nordic Council of Ministers granted funding, the group primarily engaged in three key activities:
- Providing mobilization grants to scientists working in the field.
- Initiating a project focused on producing monoclonal antibodies targeting antigens found on cells from the immune system of rainbow trout.
- Organizing two international conferences. The first conference occurred in Tromsö, Norway, in 1991, followed by the second in Lysekil, Sweden 1993.
Subsequently, meetings were convened in various locations, including Reykjavik (1995), Hirtshals (1998), Oslo (2001), Finland (2004), and Scotland (2007).
During the 5th meeting of the immunology group in November 1992, the collaborative efforts among the Nordic laboratories had proven to be remarkably successful, and the international acclaim garnered by their conferences was notable. Recognizing this success and the impending depletion of funds allocated by NPB, the group decided to explore avenues for sustaining their cooperation. Their proposal involved establishing an independent society, and this idea was formally realized during the symposium held in Lysekil. At this symposium, the official inaugural assembly of representatives took place, leading to the election of a board. The board members chosen were the same individuals mentioned earlier, with Lars Pilström assuming the role of the first chairman. Additionally, during this occasion, the society’s bylaws were adopted.
The organization retained its Nordic character because board members continued to be elected from Nordic countries. However, membership was open to individuals from any location. Furthermore, the society actively sought and secured grants from the Nordic Council of Ministers and various local Nordic funds, which were then allocated to NOFFI for specific purposes and projects.
The general assembly in 2001 decided to utilize the time leading up to the general assembly in 2004 for deliberations regarding potential changes to the board election process and organizational structure. The primary activities of “Projektstyregruppen for Fiskeimmunologi,” later known as NOFFI, had historically encompassed organizing symposia, launching collaborative projects, and awarding mobilization grants to young researchers.
In 2007, the society transformed, changing its name to the “European Organisation of Fish Immunology (EOFFI).” This change reflected the society’s evolving scope, which had expanded beyond the Nordic region over the years. Consequently, meetings began to be hosted outside the Nordic countries, starting with Scotland in 2007, and the inaugural EOFFI meeting was held in 2010 in Viterbo, Italy.
The following bullet points provide a clear timeline of the establishment of the ISFSI and the subsequent conferences held over the years.
- Viterbo Meeting in 2010:
- Decision to establish a new International Society for Fish and Shellfish Immunology.
- 1st Conference in 2013:
- Vigo, Spain
- 2nd Conference in 2016:
- Maine, USA
- 3rdConference in 2019:
- Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
- 4thConference in 2022:
- Bodø, Norway