SHORT HISTORY OF THE MULTINATIONAL CONGRESS ON MICROSCOPY

Extracted from the “Opening lecture” given at the 10th Multinational Congress on Microscopy
(Urbino, 4-7 September 2011)

by Giuseppe Arancia
Department of Technology and Health, Italian National Institute of Health Past President and Honorary Member of the Italian Society of Microscopical Sciences.

In 1990, some representatives of the Italian, Hungarian, Austrian, Yugoslavian and Czechoslovak Societies for Electron Microscopy began to have contacts in order to evaluate the possibility of organizing jointly a multinational congress on electron microscopy. The inspirer reasons of this idea were, mainly, the substitution of a number of small congresses in neighboring countries with a single multinational meeting with the aim of increasing the scientific level and reducing the organizing costs, and to favor interactions and exchange of information and experiences among researchers operating in different countries.

In the two following years (1991 and 1992), there were a series of meetings (at Balaton Lake during the 3rd Hungarian-Austrian Joint Conference, in Vienna, in Padua during the 18th Congress of the Italian Society and in Parma). During these meetings, the various delegates of the promoter societies expressed the conviction on the validity of the initiative and numerous organizing aspects were taken into consideration and discussed.

At last, it was decided to hold the first Multinational Congress on Electron Microscopy in Parma, in the North of Italy, in September 1993. The logo of the Congress represented a regular, single structure formed by four subunits indicating the participating Societies: Italian, Hungarian, Czechoslovak and Slovenian (Fig. 1). At this first “Multinational” did not participate formally the Austrian Society that, even if favorable to the initiative, was already engaged with other European societies.

Really, at the beginning the Multinational Congress did not have an easy life. In fact, some societies had already scheduled their future national conferences. Moreover, it was necessary to avoid overlapping and frictions with other meetings on electron microscopy, particularly with those organized by CESEM (Committee of the European Societies of Electron Microscopy). In addition, many members of the national societies were afraid of losing the national meetings since they were convinced of a scarce participation to the “Multinational” and that the obliged use of the “English” could be an obstacle, above all for the young researchers. So, they would have preferred to maintain the national congress and to organize, occasionally (from time to time) , a “Multinational”. For this last reason the Italian Society did not participate formally in the 2nd MCEM, held in Stara Lesna (Slovak Republic) in 1995, even if some Italian delegates were present at the Congress.

However, the numerous participation, the excellent scientific level, the perfect organization of the first two Multinationals eliminated every doubt and perplexity on the validity of this formula, with great satisfaction of its promoters, and all the six involved societies, representative of seven countries, participated at the 3rd Multinational Congress on Electron Microscopy held in Slovenia (Portoroz) in 1997 (Fig. 2).

Since 2003, the “Multinational” conformed to the international trend by assuming the name “Multinational Congress on Microscopy” (MCM) and, importantly, since the 6th MCM, held in Pula, Croatia, in 2003, the Multinational Congresses have been sponsored by the European Microscopy Society (EMS) and have been selected as “EMS Extension” (Fig. 3).

The previous Multinational Congress on Microscopy has been held in Graz in 2009 (Fig. 4), jointly with the federation of the Austrian, German and Swiss Societies (Fig. 5). Also this event had a great success. With the adhesion of the Serbian Society for Microscopy, seven societies of eight countries have participated at the 9th MCM.

Finally, the 10th anniversary of the Multinational Congress on Microscopy has been celebrated in Urbino (Fig. 6). It is general opinion that all the numerous participants will remember for long time this memorable event. In Figure 7 the list of all the ten MCM, held regularly every 2 years, is reported.

Figure 8 shows the eight countries, highlighted with color, that, at present, join the Multinational agreement and that represent a wide area of the European Continent.

Figure 9 shows the logo of the last Multinational Congresses depicting the flapping of the flags of the eight MCM Countries.