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    The History of ASBMR

  • The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) is the premier professional, scientific and medical society established to promote excellence in bone and mineral research and to facilitate the translation of that research into clinical practice. Today the ASBMR has a membership of nearly 4,000 physicians, basic research scientists, and clinical investigators from over fifty countries. In the 1970s, an increasing number of U.S. scientists began to focus their research on the understanding of basic bone biology and the disease osteoporosis. This small cadre of scientists helped bolster a burgeoning new field-bone and mineral research. The field grew rapidly during the decade and it soon became apparent that an organization was needed to bring together clinical and experimental scientists involved in the study of bone and mineral metabolism where scientists could discuss and exchange exciting new developments in bone-related research, and young investigators could be nurtured and encouraged to pursue careers in the field.

    In 1974, while attending the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Illinois, USA, a small number of bone scientists, including Louis Avioli, Claude Arnaud, Norman Bell, William Peck, John Potts, Lawrence Riggs and Lawrence Raisz, along with Shirley Hohl, met at the Drake Hotel to discuss the need for such an organization. At this meeting, the group laid the groundwork for the formation of a broad-based, active and identifiable society that would promote the study of the expanding bone and mineral field. Three years later, in November 1977, their idea was realized with the official incorporation of the ASBMR as a nonprofit organization.

    The first few years the ASBMR was in existence were tenuous, with the Society kept afloat through the determination and charity of its founders and operated from first president Louis Avioli's office at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. In the beginning and for a number of years, Dr. Avioli's secretary Shirley Hohl performed most of the administrative duties for the organization, including the processing of membership dues, and program and logistics planning for the Annual Meeting.

    From its inception, the ASBMR Annual Meeting attracted interest from bone and mineral investigators, quickly becoming the place to present and hear the latest and best science in the field. The first ASBMR Annual Meeting was held June 11-12, 1979, at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California, USA with approximately 150 people in attendance.

    During the 1980s the ASBMR Annual Meeting and the Society grew steadily. Several meritorious award programs to honor excellence in the field were established, including the Fuller Albright, William F. Neuman and Frederic C. Bartter Awards. In 1986, the ASBMR rolled-out its first official publication-the peer-reviewed bi-monthly Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR®) which would later become a monthly publication. In 1984, overwhelming public interest in osteoporosis led several prominent ASBMR researchers to establish The Osteoporosis Foundation-a U.S. nonprofit voluntary health organization solely dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health. One year later the organization was renamed the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). In 1990, the Society published the first edition of the Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism-a publication intended to introduce medical, dental, graduate students, and fellows to the field of bone and mineral research.

    In the 1990s, the field experienced tremendous growth with the rollout of several new treatments and therapies for osteoporosis and other bone diseases, resulting in increased interest and research in bone and mineral metabolism. For the Society, this translated into annual double digit percentage growth in membership and Annual Meeting attendance, as well as an increased diversification and internationalization of the ASBMR membership which just a few years prior had been comprised primarily of U.S.-based researchers. Since its inception, the ASBMR had been dutifully managed by a dedicated cadre of volunteer leaders and Executive Secretary Shirley Hohl, but by the early 1990s, growing by leaps and bounds, the ASBMR was in need of a dedicated full-time staff to service the Society's expanding membership and programs. In 1991, the leadership hired the association management company Smith, Bucklin & Associates to professionally manage ASBMR with the long-term goals of financial stability and continued growth. SmithBucklin Corporation continues in this role today.

    By the mid-1990s the ASBMR was serving a fairly even mix of clinicians and basic scientists, U.S. and international members. With the expansion of its membership, the Society also expanded the scope of its mission-remaining true to its original purpose, and also dedicating itself to fostering integration of clinical and basic science, and facilitating the translation of that science to health care and clinical practice. ASBMR began to play a larger role in professional practice issues, including working with other organizations on clinical guidelines in osteoporosis and approaches to the challenges represented by the proliferation of bone scanning devices with limited databases. The Society also began to play a lead role in advocacy-becoming a founding and primary member of the National Coalition for Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ("Bone Coalition") as well as joining the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to advocate for increased U.S. government research funding for all of science.

    At the dawn of the 21st century, the Society continued to satisfy its mission while reaching out to diverse audiences and maintaining a variety of ever-growing programs. ASBMR made new education initiatives a priority, including the development of slide sets, new publications and online offerings geared to improve communication with its membership, career-related sessions at the Annual Meeting and regular topical meetings on timely topics in the field. Staying true to its original mission of nurturing young investigators, the ASBMR also launched several new awards programs for junior investigators.

    With nearly 4,000 members spanning over fifty countries and the success of its publications, the Journal of Bone and Mineral Researchand the Primer on Metabolic Bone Disease and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism, ASBMR continues to grow and remains a pioneering leader in the field of bone and mineral metabolism. ASBMR maintains its dedication toward the innovative and inclusive ideals of its founders - promoting young investigator participation, encouraging a truly open Annual Meeting and remaining active and vigilant in discovering new science and retaining the purity of the scientific research.

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