27 September - 1 October 2000


Agendas were distributed to all who attended the General Assembly (28 in total).

1. The Assembly was opened by Professor Stan Pavel.

2. Professor Mac Neil read the Secretary’s Report for 1999/2000. Features of this report for 2000 were a meeting of the ESPCR Officers held on 10 January in     London to make amendments to the Constitution. Following this, members were balloted on their support for the Constitution, also their support for the Institution of a Fritz Anders Memorial Lecture.

Also, at this meeting, changes were made to the ESPCR Membership subscription. The decision was taken to pay membership fees in Euros and also to report on the membership database of the ESPCR Website, the year when fees were last paid (recorded after members’ names). Professor Mac Neil reported that there was still a discrepancy between the number of members recorded on the Treasurer’s database (203 in June 2000) and the number of members recorded on Professor Ghanem’s database (176). Professor Mac Neil commented that while this was an improvement on the situation a year ago, there was still room for further improvement.

With respect to election of the new Officers for the Society (President, Secretary and Treasurer), a call for nominees went out to all ESPCR members in July 2000. By the end of July, the Society had two nominees for each of the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer. A postal ballot was conducted and the results of this ballot led to the election of Professor Dorothy Bennett as President, Professor José García-Borrón as Secretary and Dr. Lionel Larue as Treasurer.

Finally, at the suggestion of the Editor of Pigment Cell Research, contributors to the journal who were not members of the ESPCR were contacted by letter bringing the benefits of joining the Society to their attention (110 such contributors). This mailshot took place in August 2000.

3. The Secretary (Professor Sheila Mac Neil) then read the Minutes from the last General Assembly held in Prague 1998. These Minutes were approved by the General Assembly.

4. The Treasurer (Professor Ralf Peter) presented the Treasurer’s Report for 1999/2000. Some pertinent details of that report were as follows:

No. of Members: 203

New Members in 1999: 13

New Members in 2000: 8

Members Cancelled in Total in 1999/2000: 63

Members Paid in 1999: 132

Members Paid in 2000: 107

The financial balance for 2000 is slightly more than for 1998 and 1999. There were no questions related to the Financial Report for 1999/2000 and this was approved by the Membership.

5. Professor Ghanem then gave a brief report on the ESPCR Bulletin Website. He reported that there were no problems with the running of the Website and no increase in costs. He reported that, at Professor Wiete Westerhof’s suggestion, the Website would now publish abstracts from Ph.D. theses from members’ laboratories concerning pigmentation research.

With respect to the running of the Bulletin, he reported that a new section on Developmental Biology had been suggested by Friedrich Beermann who would undertake to write this section. Professor Ghanem also reported that at the first Council Meeting, the suggestion had been put forward by him that contributors to the Bulletin should, in addition to receiving a free subscription to Pigment Cell Research, also be offered free registration at the ESPCR meetings for their work in compiling literature reports for the Bulletin. This was supported by the Council.

Professor Mac Neil then commented that two other matters had been discussed in the Council Meeting concerning the Website and Bulletin: the first was the issue of how much information concerning members’ contact details should be openly available on the Website and the second was whether the contents of the Bulletin should be available for members only (via a password) or be on the open Website.

Professor Mac Neil said that these were matters that could be considered by the new Council Members and did not require an immediate decision.

Professor Dorothy Bennett added a comment, that one good solution would be to have two membership lists: one open access to all which contained very brief contact details and not e-mail addresses and another fuller membership list available via password only which would contain not only full contact details for the members but also a few lines describing their key research interests.

6. Professor Pavel then commented on the venues for the next ESPCR meetings. In 2001, the 10th ESPCR Meeting is to be held in Rome and the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee is Professor Mauro Picardo. In 2002, the next International Federation Pigment Cell Society Meeting will be in Scheveningen (The Hague) and Professor Pavel is the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee.

For 2003 and 2004, we do not have venues at present and Professor Pavel urged those attending the General Assembly to consider possible venues. At this stage, Professor Garcia-Borron is to discuss with his colleagues whether Murcia might be a venue for 2003.

For 2005, the provisonal venue for the next International Federation of Pigment Cell Society Meeting will be in the USA with Professor Vince Hearing as Chairman of the Local Organising Committee.

7. Professor Pavel then reported on the changes to the statues for continuing the ESPCR beyond 2000. He reported that it had been necessary in the original Constitution to make it time limited such that it would cease to exist beyond December 2000. Accordingly, the Constitution was amended with respect to this and a few other minor changes were made at this time at a meeting held in London in January 2000 attended by the Officers of the Society and Professor Patrick Riley whose advice was invaluable in this respect. Following this meeting, the revised Constitution was then posted to all ESPCR members and placed on the Website and a ballot was undertaken requesting support for the continuation of the Society beyond December 2000. Professor Pavel reported that we had more than 50% support for continuing the Society and he had put it to the General Assembly that this be approved by the Assembly. The motion to continue the Society was approved by the Assembly.

8. Under Any Other Business, the Treasurer (Professor Peter) raised a number of related issues concerning what percentage of the ESPCR budget should be committed at any one time to:

(a) supporting the ESPCR conference running

(b) travel awards

(c) the Fritz Anders Memorial Lecture (which was supported by the Society for running on an annual basis from 2000 onwards)

(d) the Society’s contribution to the IFPCS

Professor Pavel pointed out that the latter (the IFPCS contribution) was fixed at 20% of our income but that, in practice, when an International Meeting was held in Europe then a percentage of this income was returned to the European Society.

There was discussion of the fact that part of the budget should support the running of meetings possibly to the extent of 10 - 15% of our budget. Similarly, support for travel awards to enable young scientists or scientists from countries where access to travel funds is difficult to attend the meetings should also be supported - the percentages discussed ranged from 10 - 20% of our budget.

Professor Peter pointed out that, in practice, these matters were generally left to the discretion of the Treasurer but that he would wish the Assembly to support a motion that, at any one time, that no more than 50% in total of the annual budget should be committed to these outgoings. This motion was supported by the General Assembly.

9. The next issue raised was that of registering the Society in London and of moving the bank account. At present, it is not clear whether the Society needs to be formally registered but the feeling of the Council Members and of the Assembly was that it was wise to look into this and, if necessary, register it in London. It was agreed to contact Professor Riley for advice on this issue.

With respect to transferring the Society’s bank account, this currently is in Germany. The incoming Treasurer (Dr. Lionel Larue) is based in Paris but there seemed to be a good argument for also basing the bank account in London as successive Treasurers may be in any European country. Professor Pavel reported that Professor Riley had advised that it was possible to have an account based in London with monies paid in from other countries that this was probably handled more readily if one used a large bank with branches in a number of European countries. Professor Pavel requested that the new Officers of the Society look into this as a matter of some urgency so that the new account could be set up and, once this was set up, then Professor Peter would close the existing account.

Another issue that was raised by Dr. Helene Hill was that of bank transfers from the USA - she suggested that it would be, in many cases, more convenient to pay cash at the time of the meeting when travelling to European meetings. Professor Peter pointed out that it would be necessary to open a cash account for this by the Local Meeting Organiser but that this would, in practice, be easy to manage. There was broad agreement that this was worth exploring. Professor Peter pointed out that with respect to closure of accounts, there would be need for signature transfers at a Consulate Office.


5 October 2000