BSTH in retrospect

Foundation

The Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH) was founded as a non-profit organization in 1992 by deposition of the Act of Foundation with a Brussels notary. On April 29, 1993 the BSTH statutes were published in Het Staatsblad/Moniteur Belge. The logo adopted by the society closely resembled that of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH).

The founding fathers of the new society were:

  • Gaston Baele (Universiteit Gent-UGent, first President of the BSTH 1992-2000)
  • Paul Capel (Université Libre de Bruxelles-ULB, first Secretary of the BSTH)
  • Jean Louis David (Université de Liège-ULg)
  • Marc De Waele (Vrije Universiteit Brussel-VUB)
  • Pierre Fondu (Université Libre de Bruxelles-ULB)
  • Marcel Moriau (Université Catholique de Louvain-UCL)
  • Marc Van der Planken (Universiteit Antwerpen-UA)
  • Jos Vermylen (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven-KUL)
  • Marc Verstraete (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven-KUL)

Precursors

Before the founding of the Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH) in 1992 there already existed another scientific grouping in the field of coagulation, namely the national and bilingual “ FGWO contactgroep bloedstolling – FRSM groupe de contact coagulation”, a contact group within the Fund for Scientific Research in Medicine (FGWO-FRSM), a part of the National Fund for Scientific Research (NFWO-FNRS). Chairmen of this grouping were prof Gaston Baele (Universiteit Gent-UGent) and prof Pierre Fondu (Université Libre de Bruxelles-ULB). In 1992 this grouping was split into a Flemish group “FGWO contactgroep bloedstolling” (chairman Gaston Baele) and a French speaking group “nouveau groupe de contact FRSM-coagulation” (chairman Pierre Fondu) when the organization and structure of the National Fund for Scientific Research (NFWO-FNRS) were changed along regional lines.

The Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH) became the new national forum in the field of coagulation and organized annual scientific meetings from the beginning. At first these annual meetings were held together with the Flemish “FGWO contactgroep bloedstolling” and the French speaking “nouveau groupe de contact FRSM-coagulation”. The focus of the meetings was to give young researchers working in the field of thrombosis and hemostasis the opportunity to present their work, together with expert lectures. Also, irregularly educational events were organized.

Paul Capel Prize

Paul Capel, co-founder and first Secretary of the Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH), was the head of the coagulation laboratory at the ULB-Erasme Hospital and a expert in the field of Lupus Anticoagulant. He died unexpectly in a car accident caused by a phantom driver. In his memory the BSTH instituted in 2000 the Paul Capel Prize for a young investigator for work presented as an oral communication at the BSTH annual meeting. In 2009 the BSTH board decided to give out two Paul Capel Prizes each year, one in the category “Fundamental Research “ and one in the category “Clinical/Laboratory”.

The way forward

During the Presidency of prof Kristin Jochmans (Vrije Universiteit Brussel-VUB , 2000-2008) the BSTH statutes were changed in 2002 (published in Het Staatsblad/Moniteur Belge on June 6, 2003) and a rejuvenation of the BSTH board took place, introducing new members. The BSTH website was introduced to improve the visibility of the society. In collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis the biennial Sanofi-Aventis Prize for research in thrombosis, hemostasis, vascular biology and experimental cardiology was introduced under the auspices of the BSTH, and awarded for the first time in 2003.

Setup of two working parties

The BSTH board also set up two working parties: The Belgian Working Group on Oral Anticoagulation (BWGOAC) and the Thrombosis Guidelines Group (TGG). The BWGOAC resulted in a patient guide for oral anticoagulation which was printed with industry support and which proved a great success. The Thrombosis Guidelines Group (TGG), which brings together members from the BSTH and from the Belgian Working Group on Angiology, was set up with the objective to improve dissemination and implementation of the evidence concerning the prevention and treatment of thrombo-embolic diseases and to promote further research on the optimal use of antithrombotic strategies. The TGG continues to put forward guidelines in the field of thrombosis treatment and prevention (www.thrombosisguidelinesgroup.be).

Scaling up the meetings

In 2005 the concept of the BSTH Annual Meeting was changed. The Annual Meeting became bigger, more ambitious and containing state-of-the-art lectures by acknowledged experts in their field, many coming from outside of Belgium. This concept was first introduced at the 2005 Antwerp meeting which focused on von Willebrand Disease and proved a great success, rekindling interest from the pharmaceutical industry. Gradually the concept was improved upon in successive Annual Meetings with extension of the programme from 1.5 days to two full days, the mixing of industry-sponsored satellite sessions with the main state-of-the-art sessions (previously industry symposia were held on Thursday afternoon with the main programme on Friday) and the introduction of more clinical content, both in the state-of-the-art sessions and in the oral presentations by young researchers.

Building the network

The Presidency of prof Serge Motte (Université Libre de Bruxelles-ULB, 2008-2012) saw the first clinician at the head of the Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH), and a further growth in the number of participants for the BSTH Annual Meeting. Preliminary talks were held with the Dutch (NVTH) and German (GEHT) societies on hemostasis and thrombosis for a combined meeting but this was not realized at the time. The Paul Capel Prize was duplicated in 2009, one in the category “Fundamental Research “ and one in the category “Clinical/Laboratory”, to acknowledge the growing number of abstract submissions from clinicians and hospital laboratories. In 2010 a “Social Event” on the Thursday evening was introduced at the Annual Meeting in Gent to give participants more opportunity to talk to each other and network with industry representatives in a more relaxed setting.

Belgian Journal of Hematology

The Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH) in 2010 (and formally in 2011) adopted the new Belgian Journal of Hematology as the official journal of the society, making it possible for the abstract of the Annual Meeting to be published in that journal. It was also the first formal cooperation with the Belgian Society of Hematology (BHS) who also adopted the new Belgian Journal of Hematology as their official journal at the same time.

Programme of modernization

In 2012 prof Alain Gadisseur (Universiteit Antwerpen-UA) was elected as BSTH President and the BSTH embarked on an ambitious programme of modernization. The BSTH mission statement was drafted, and changes were made to the statutes and logo in an attempt to make the Belgian Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSTH) more democratic, relevant and professional.

Under the new statutes the BSTH Board was opened up to persons outside of the universities and without the title of MD or MSc. The BSTH Board could also coopt members for the period of one year without voting rights and this helped to bring in young blood. At the end of the first 4 years of the presidential mandate the BSTH Board contained 5 new young members. Contrary to the so-called “glass ceiling” in government and business the majority of the board were women.

Membership of the BSTH was put central in the new statutes meaning only members could profit from advantages and grants offered by the BSTH and only members could stand for elected posts. It also became possible for companies to become corporate members of the BSTH thereby ensuring the necessary financial support for a more professional organization of the BSTH. This transition was completed at the 2015 BSTH Annual Meeting where for the first time the president was elected by the members. Alain Gadisseur was elected for a second term. 2015 also saw the death of Gaston Baele (1939-2015), one of the founding fathers of the BSTH and its first president.

The new BSTH Board, installed in 2016, is moving forward with modernizing the society. Priority will be given to increasing the visibility of the BSTH in relation to the members, the haemostasis community, other professional organizations and the authorities. The BSTH website was redeveloped to make it into an important tool for the society and its members.

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