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INTERASMA Through the Years, by Albert K. Oehling
1956 - 1996

It was in 1954 that some of the pioneers of European allergology, including Hansen, Quarles Van Ufford, Sangiorgi and Duchaine, decided to create the International Association of Asthmology after discussing the problems than bronchial asthma was raising in internal medicine, pediatrics, allergology and respiratory medicine. Prof. Sangiorgi in particular devoted himself with considerable energy to this project. The Association was registered in Milan in 1954, and a year later, on May 25, 1955, the first official founding meeting took place in Utrecht, organized by Dr. Quarles van Ufford. Also present at this meeting were Professors Hansen, Sangiorgi, Duchaine and Wolfer-Bianchi, among others. Later, at the first Congress (held in Lubeck) and at subsequent meetings, the following were admitted as founding members: Sánchez-Cuenca (Spain), Varela Fuertes (Uruguay), Spoujitch (Yugoslavia), Holler (Austria), Vera Walker (United Kingdom), Capuani (Italy), Gronemeyer (Germany), Fuchs (Germany) and Damas Mora (Portugal). I joined INTERASMA in 1957, when the Association did not have more than 50 members.

From the beginning, as my mentors Hansen and Gronemeyer clearly stated, the idea in founding INTERASMA was not to compete with the International Association of Allergology, or with the then recently created European Academy of Allergology, although many thought this at the time. I still remember critical comments from some very close friend of mine, pointing out that INTERASMA was trying to compete with these societies. But nothing could be further from the truth, since asthma is a "multidisciplinary" illness, and the aim of the Association was (and still is) to unite the efforts of internists, pediatricians, allergologists, and chest physicians, and so provide a better standard of care for asthmatic patients. By the late 1950s, the increase of bronchial asthma in health statistics was already beginning to worry us. It was a question of uniting diagnostic criteria and therapies in a way that would lead to effective means of treating and managing asthma, and of unifying methods of study and research so that the complex etiopathogenesis of this illness could be better understood. At no stage did the Association try to reduce the importance of any other society.

The initially small group of members gradually grew, the Association being joined by exceedingly active members such as Zerbib (France), Erikson- Lihr (Finland), Businco (Italy), Werner (Germany), Sugihara (Japan), Dias da Costa (Brazil), Ado (Russia), Berg (USA), Findeisen and Sylla (GDR), Hochli (Switzerland), Liska (Prague), Farrerons (Spain), and many others. It is truly difficult for me to remember now all the eminent asthma investigators who were involved in the initial phases of INTERASMA.

It was in Helsinki, in 1972, that I was appointed Secretary General, and a more active period in INTERASMA's life began. This period lasted until 1981. During this time our statutes were renewed, and INTERASMA 's Chapters began to be active. Two Chapters were established for Europe, three for Africa, two for Asia, three for America and one for Australia. In this way the various Annual Meetings appeared, in order to increase interest in INTERASMA in the various regions. Surprisingly, these meetings were extremely successful in terms of the participation of pediatricians, internists, chest physicians, and allergologists. The first meeting took place in Havana (Cuba) in 1974. In honor of the occasion, the prestigious Cuban painter Portocarrero, a man of international renown, presented our Association with the logotype that we are still using today. It represents on the one hand the profile of a dyspneic situation on both sides, and on the other hand a bronchoconstriction in front view. I think that this Congress will stay in the minds of all of us who participated as a very pleasant memory.

These meetings have continued taking place subsequently, and the number of participants has increased steadily from one to the next. The INTERASMA World Congresses and Chapter meetings held to date are listed in Tables 1 and 2.

As the Association grew, the conclusion was reached that creating national societies of asthmology was not as important as creating INTERASMA Chapters, that in their different regions could interact and promote joint efforts among all the various specialties interested in asthma. This form of organization has also resulted in the annual regional meetings and Chapter meetings, held independently of the World Congress (which takes place every three years), thus giving strength to the philosophy of INTERASMA in the different regions of the world.

Finally, I would also like to highlight the excellent work that Prof. Godard has done as Secretary General during the past six years. His wonderful efforts have culminated in the creation of Asmanet, the international network based on the modern information superhighway that is helping to develop the asthma knowledge base through person-to-person communication.

1st Congress   1956, Lubeck/Bad Lippspringe
    President: Professor Dr. K. Hansen
2nd Congress   1957, Lisbon
    President: Dr. Mario Damas Mora
3rd Congress   1960, Bordighera-Grasses
    President: Professor P. Sangiorg
4th Congress   1963, Toulouse
    President: Dr. James Duchaine
5th Congress   1966, Utrecht
    President: Dr. W. J. Quarles van Ufford
6th Congress   1970, Lisbon/Luanda-Madeira
    President: Dr. Mario Damas- Mora
7th Congress   1972, Helsinki
    President: Dr. Zaida Eriksson-Lihr
8th Congress   1975, Vlissingen
    President: W.J.Quarles van Ufford
9th Congress   1978, New Orleans
    President: Professor D. Johnstone
10th Congress   1981, Paris
    President: Professor D. Vialatte
11th Congress   1984, Mexico
    President: Professor Dr. J.L. Cortés
12th Congress   1987, Barcelona
    President: Professor Dr. Alberto Oehling
13th Congress   1990, Maebashi
    President: Professor Joseph A. Bellanti
14th Congress   1993, Jerusalem
    President: Dr. Israel Glazer
15th Congress   1996, Montpellier
    President: Professor Philippe Godard
16th Congress   1999, Buenos Aires
    President: Hugo Neffen
17th Congress   2003, St. Petersburg
    President: Dr. Alan P. Kaplan
18th Congress   2006, Guadalajara
    President: Professor Revaz Sepiashvili
19th Congress   2008, Monte Carlo
    President: Professor Theodore Popov
20th Congress   2010, Athens
    President: Professor Ronald Dahl
21th Congress   2012, Quebec City
    President: Professor You-Young Kim
22th Congress   2014, Mexico City
    President: Professor Carlos E. Baena Cagnani
23th Congress   2016, Madrid, Spain
    President: Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica


1985   Warsaw - Poland
    President: K. May
1991   Central America - Acapulco
    President: J. Huerta Lopez
1991   Europe - Funchal
    President: A. G Palma-Carlos
2014   North Asia - Japan
    President: Sigenori Nakajima
2014   Greece - Athens
    President: Carlos E. Baena-Cagnani
2015   North Asia, Japan
    Organization: Interasma Japan
2016   North Asia, Japan
    Organization: Interasma Japan


1991   ACAAI
    Argentina-Buenos Aires
    President: J Fabiani
1992   Italian - Latin - American Association Naples
    Italy - Naples
    President: G. Mellilo
1993   International meeting of Respiratory Allergy Lisbon
    Portugal - Lisbon
    President: A.G. Palma Carlos
1995   Poznan - Poland
    President: J. Fischer
1997   GAILL and Luso-Brasilian Society - AG Palma-Carlos
    Spain - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
    President: A. Palacios
2009 - 2010   Bilbau
    President: I. Ansotegui

Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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