Founded in 1927, the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) strives to promote the study of microbiological sciences internationally: initiate, facilitate and coordinate research and other scientific activities which involve international cooperation; ensure the discussion and dissemination of the results of international conferences, symposia and meetings and assist in the publication of their reports; represent microbiological sciences in ICSU and maintain contact with other international organizations. The union is divided into three fundamental divisions: Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology (BAM), Mycology, and Virology. These divisions and their activities form the heart of the IUMS union. Within each division, specialized Committees, Commissions, and Federations (COMCOFs) serve as the recognized international authorities on issues such as nomenclature, terminology, and standards. COMCOFs also support specific disciplinary scientific meetings and publish journals, books, and newsletters. Information on the COMCOFs and links to their individual websites is available from the central IUMS web home.
The U.S. National Committees (USNCs) represent the United States scientific community in the international structure of the unions, work to promote positive international engagement and collaboration, and serve as bridges between the National Academies, the many disciplinary societies, scientific funding agencies, and individual American scientists.
The U.S. committee to IUMS supports the growth of biology by:
- Serving as a neutral venue where representatives of U.S. professional societies, government agencies, and other important stakeholders can meet to discuss trends in their disciplines
- Acting as a communication bridge between the U.S. and international scientific communities
- Initiating and facilitating activities on important disciplinary and trans-disciplinary issues
- Collaborating with other national and international organizations interested in the advancement of the biological sciences
Representing the U.S. in the International Network of the Union
The U.S. National Committee nominates scientists for leadership positions in the union, votes on union business matters, and sends a delegation of scientists to represent the U.S. in the triennial IUMS Congresses.
The IUMS XII International Congress of Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology (August 5-9), XII International Congress of Mycology (August 5-9) and XIV International Congress of Virology (August 10-15) were held in 2008 in Istabul, Turkey. Joan Bennett (Rutgers University) was elected an IUMS Vice-pesident and Stephen Lerner (Wayne State University) was elected a Member-at-Large of the Executive Board.
The United States hosted the IUMS Congress and General Assembly, “Microbes in a Changing World”, July 23-28, 2005 in San Francisco, CA.
Maintaining Nomenclature and Standards
One of the most fundamental and critical roles played by the IUMS union is to serve as the recognized international authority in areas such as viral, bacterial, and fungal nomenclature, taxonomy, and best practices. These roles are carried out by the many specialists from around the world who serve on the committees, sub-committees, and working groups convened under the 12 union COMCOFs. Examples include the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), which publishes Virus Taxonomy: VIIIth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (2005), and the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), which publishes the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria (Bacteriological Code).
Developing Disciplinary and Multidisciplinary Scientific Programs
IUMS has inaugurated an outreach program of regional courses on key microbiological topics of interest. The first course in this series will be held in Singapore from June 15-17, 2010 on Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses. It is designed to engage students and scientists from surrounding countries in Asia, particularly younger researchers in fields such as in microbiology, epidemiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, and medicinal chemistry. The course will cover topics including: influenza virus replication and virulence, drug resistance mutations of HIV, biochemical, physiological, and genetic mechanisms of antibacterial resistance, mechanism of action of antifungal agents, and epidemiology and strategies of control.
MICROBIAL COMMONS CONFERENCE
June 12 – 13, 2008
An international conference on building an integrated infrastructure in microbial research dealing with issues such as bioinformatics, intellectual property rights, material transfer agreements, text mining, and integration with genomics databases. A second meeting, Designing the Microbial Research Commons: An International Symposium, was organized by the Board on Research Data and Information and held at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, on 8-9 October 2009.
Fostering Responsible Conduct of Biology
The IUMS Code of Ethics against Misuse of Scientific Knowledge, Research and Resources was adopted by the Executive Board in 2006 and by the General Assembly in 2008. The code reaffirms the importance of the open exchange of scientific information for the benefit of humankind and the environment, while expressing opposition to the misuse of microbiological knowledge, research and resources.
The international Workshop on Promoting Education on Dual Use Issues in the Life Scienceswas held November 16-18, 2009 at the Polish Academy of Sciences under the auspices of The InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), and United States Department of State. The meeting convened scientists, educators, and experts in biosecurity to discuss resources, gaps, and effective approaches for including education on dual use issues in the training of life scientists.
The Second International Forum on Biosecurity was held March 30-April 2, 2008 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, under the auspices of the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues, International Union of Microbiological Societies, International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and International Union of Biological Sciences. More than 80 people from 31 countries discussed challenges and opportunities for the scientific community in fostering policies that promote both scientific progress and security. An NRC report of the workshop was released in 2009.
The National Academies currently convenes five U.S. National Committees in the biological sciences, one committee for each union to which it adheres. Members of the committees are scientists from academe, government and industry who represent the U.S. research community and who have a strong interest in international science. Members generally serve for 3-year terms and are eligible for re-appointment to a second 3-year term. Members of the Executive Boards of the biology unions who reside in the U.S. serve as ex-officio members and are also invited to be actively involved with the committees. Nominations for new members are sought from a variety of sources, including the members and other Boards within the National Academies, scientific societies, and the scientific community at large.
Support for the five U.S. National Committees in the biological sciences is provided by the Directorate for Biological Sciences
of the National Science Foundation.
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