The Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research: The Journey Begins…
Asia is the home for billions of people with pigmented skin among whom millions have at least some pigmentary problems.
The need to have an organized forum to discuss pigmentary problems of the Asian population and to promote pigment cell research was a long felt need.
Founding of the Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research (ASPCR)
An historic meeting, held in Beijing, China on 21 May 2004 during the International Congress of Dermatology, was organized by a group of like-minded Asian dermatologists and researchers to establish the Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research (ASPCR).Many members representing several countries, including China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh actively participated and the interest shown by the participants in establishing an Asian pigment cell society was very encouraging. As a consequence, the Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research (ASPCR) was founded, with Dr Prasad Kumarasinghe elected as President and Dr Davinder Parsad as Secretary General, to promote and encourage the exchange of information and collaboration between scientists and clinicians from Asia who are involved in basic or clinical research on pigmentary disorders. The secretariat of the ASPCR was established in Chandigarh, India.
The First ASPCR Conference
The first major activity of the ASPCR was to organize the First Conference of Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research on ‘Pigmentary Disorders in the Asian Skin’ in February 2005 in New Delhi, India. It was a great success with over 200 Asian delegates attending and faculty from the USA, France, UK, Japan, Singapore, India, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka making valuable contributions. The scientific program covered a wide array of topics on pigmentary disorders and updates on the latest advances in the field of pigment cell research. The International Federation for Pigment Cell Societies, IFPCS (represented by the then President, Prof. Dorothy Bennett) and the PASPCR, represented by Dr John Pawelek (President PASPCR) were very supportive of this fledgling society and its scientific endeavours from the very beginning.
Membership of the IFPCS
In less than a year, the ASPCR has attracted over 50 members, and is now a family of over 60 members from across Asia. During the 19th IPCC in 2005, the ASPCR was officially admitted to the International Federation of Pigment Cell Societies (IFPCS) and joins the three other established societies: European(ESPCR), Pan-American (PASPCR) and Japanese (JSPCR).
Other ASPCR activities
The ASPCR plans to focus on pigmentary disorders more unique, prevalent or problematic to Asian patients, both at the laboratory and clinical levels and the meetings organized by the ASPCR will reflect this aim. The second ASPCR Conference on ‘New horizons in Pigment Cell Research and Pigmentary Disorders in Asia’ will be held in Singapore, from 6 to 8 July 2007, with many world leaders in pigment cell research expected to address this meeting. A meeting focusing on Vitiligo will be held in Chandigarh, India in November 2006, under the auspices of the ASPCR. In addition, the ASPCR circulates an electronic ASPCR bulletin (Asian Pigment Bulletin) to its members quarterly and plans to provide a limited number of travel awards to encourage deserving members to participate in the IPCC and ASPCR conferences. The ASPCR also facilitates learning/training opportunities at centres of excellence for its members. We are grateful to the Editor of Pigment Cell Research and to Blackwell Publishers for offering a very attractive subscription rate of $65 per year for the journal Pigment Cell Research, for the ASPCR members for a period of 2 years.
The ASPCR journey to excellence in pigment cell research and relevant translational research has begun. This young society would welcome academic and research exchanges and collaborations from the members of the established pigment cell societies to raise the standard of pigment cell research and clinical research on pigmentary disorders across Asia. Going by the interest shown by the clinicians and scientists across Asia, it appears that we are heading towards that goal.
S. Prasad W. Kumarasinghe and Davinder Parsad