View Full Version : Open letter to the President of the ESB

11-16-1999, 04:47 AM
Dear All:
This letter here below was sent to President of the European Society of
Biomechanics with a separate message.
Since it was intended to be a public letter I am posting it also on BIOMCH-L.

I would appreciate if eventual follow-up comments are posted to the list.
If you agree with my position please send a message to the President of
ESB. his e-mail address can be found on the following web page:



Marco Viceconti

To the President of the European Society of Biomechanics

Dear President:

I am writing this open letter to bring to your attention, and that of the
other board members, an issue that I feel may compromise the future of the

Since my early days as a student I have always supported the idea of a
community supported by the institution of a scientific society. I am a
longstanding member of the International Society of Biomechanics, and for a
few years I was also a member of the European Society of Biomechanics. I
withdrew my membership from the ESB a few years ago because I disagreed
with the election procedures. The Board nominated candidates and the
election was public. This procedure, in my opinion, prevented any form of
internal democracy and perpetuates the control of the society in the hands
of a few persons.

Since there were so many societies around, I did not perceive this as a big
deal. Nor, at the time, did the few board members to whom I presented my
concerns. However, I changed my mind recently, after serving, this summer,
as a project reviewer for the European Union Fifth Framework Program (FPV).
The situation I witnessed is very bad for biomechanics and biomedical
engineering in general. I spoke with some of the few colleagues who served
in other areas in the same round; they described to me a very similar
situation. Insiders told me that the Commission itself is not very happy
with the quality of the founded proposals. What can be done? Start a
lobbing action; pushing as many as possible to candidate biomechanics
experts as reviewers; promoting initiatives to improve the public
perception of the role of biomechanics and biomedical engineering in
general in healthcare practice. By myself, I could do very little. This
is a role for the European Society of Biomechanics.

So I contacted a few friends still involved with the society. The picture
they painted was not very pretty: very low membership, minimal involvement
of students and young researchers in the management, no www.esb.org, a
troubled newsletter, and so on. In a word, a society inadequate to embrace
the very important task I am seeking.
Dear President, I am sure you will disagree with this very negative
description, but the fact that many of our colleagues are describing it
like this should concern you (and maybe it already does) and the board. We
do not know each other very well, but I would like you to know that I have
a very high opinion of you and all those board members I know. I do not
believe that you should be blamed for this; the problems of the ESB come
from the past.
But I shall blame you if you and the other board members will not take up
the challenge these new times are posing to the Society. There is a huge
amount of work to be done, and very soon. How? Please, open up this
The old times, when being on the board of the ESB was an honour, are gone
forever. Today serving a society really means it. It is a pain. You know
this better than anybody else. To be effective, the burden must be shared.
In my opinion this will only be possible by changing the election rules.

In this consideration, I formally recommend:

- To make the board terms shorter; each one of us may decide to "waste" one
or two years of life, but posing longer terms does scare a lot of people.

- Any member may candidate him or herself as a board member.

- The ballot is secret and formal.

- To create a minimal-fee membership for students younger than a certain
age. The target is to have every European biomechanics student in this
society. Students enrolled as members in a society which functions are more
likely to stay involved with that society.

- To create serving positions for young fellows: namely bulletin board,
e-mailing list, and web site managers, student chapter chief, job database
manager, etc. In a few years time the service or track-record in these
positions may become a pre-requisite to serve on the Board.

Since I am not a member anymore, these are only suggestions. However, I
ask members to back my requests as soon as possible. If the statute is
changed quickly, a call for new boards members may be launched very soon,
and we can have a formal election during the Dublin meeting.

On my part, if the statute is changed in this direction, I shall present my
membership request the very next day and I shall candidate myself to the
board. It is time for big changes and I am ready to play my little role in

Change the election rules; act now, before it is too late. Biomechanics is
not a little club anymore; let European biomechanics grow faster and the
Society with it.

Marco Viceconti
Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli

MARCO VICECONTI, PhD (viceconti@tecno.ior.it)
Laboratorio di Tecnologia Medica tel. 39-51-6366865
Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli fax. 39-51-6366863
via di barbiano 1/10, 40136 - Bologna, Italy

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright in the forest of the night,
what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Opinions expressed here do not necessarly reflect those of my employer

To unsubscribe send SIGNOFF BIOMCH-L to LISTSERV@nic.surfnet.nl
For information and archives: http://isb.ri.ccf.org/biomch-l