25 Years of EFIS

 Immunology Letters 73 (2000) S9–S10 

Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Allergologie und Immunologie

Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology

The Austrian Society for Allergology and Immunology (ASAI/ÖGAI) was founded in 1971. The motion for its foundation emanated from the recognition that recent achievements in immunological research had opened new horizons in the fields of basic science as well as of clinical medicine and, in particular, allergology. These research topics had long-standing historical roots in Austria: around the turn of the 19th century Austrian scientists had significantly contributed to our knowledge in these fields. To mention just two prominent figures: Karl Landsteiner uncovered the nature of major blood groups during his research at the Institute of Pathology of the University of Vienna, and Clemens von Pirquet, studying the immune response to diptheria toxin and other antigens at the Department of Pediatrics of the same University, has coined the term 'allergy'.
Therefore, Austrian immunologists tended to integrate basic and clinical immunology research into one society. The first president of the ASAI/ÖGAI was Carl Steffen, head of the newly endowed chair of

Table 1

Immunology at the University of Vienna. He held this office until 1984. Since then, alternating presidents were responsible for the development of the society. Their names, as well as the names of the secretaries and the honorary presidents, are shown in Table 1.
It was clear from the very beginning that successful research can only be done in cooperation with colleagues from other countries. Therefore, international contacts were established bilaterally with many other immunological societies, particularly in neighboring countries, and also with the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) whose member the ASAI/ÖGAI became in 1973. Consequently, the ASAI/ÖGAI has been a member of the European Union of Immunological Societies (EFIS) since its foundation in 1975. Since the ASAI/ÖGAI also represents immunologists with mainly clinical orientation it joined the International (IAACI) and the European Association for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) in 1994 and 1974, respectively. Moreover, the ASAI/ÖGAI has been a member of the European Confederation of Laboratory Medicine (ECLM) since 1996.
The international orientation of the ASAI/ÖGAI is also documented by the bestowal of honorary membership to outstanding immunologists who have special links to Austria and the Austrian immunological community. Up to date honorary membership has been conferred to:

Ira M. Green, Bethesda, MD, USA (1981)
Gustav J.V. Nossal, Melbourne, Australia (1987)
Noel R. Rose, Baltimore, MD, USA (1994)
Fred S. Rosen, Boston, MA, USA (1996)

In order to honor allergologists who greatly contributed to the advancement in this field, the ASAI: ÖGAI established in 1986 an award named after the 'founder' of allergology Clemens von Pirquet-Medal. The following scientists are holders of this medal:

Robin R. A. Coombs, Cambridge, UK (1988)
Alain deWeck, Fribourg, Switzerland (1990)
Alec Sehon, Winnipeg, Canada (1994)

The major goal of the ASAI/ÖGAI to promote research in allergology and immunology has mainly been pursued by the organization of scientific meetings.
The annual meeting, usually held in autumn, is the platform where all the achievements of Austrian immunologists and allergologists are discussed. These meetings consist of topic-oriented symposia mostly held by international experts as well as of oral and poster presentations selected from submitted abstracts. The annual meeting was held jointly with the annual meeting of the Austrian Biochemical Society three times, twice with the Hungarian, and once with the German Society for Immunology. Major research efforts undertaken by Austrian immunologists and allergologists include the analysis of the molecular events of antigen presentation, in particular, by dendritic cells (Institute of Immunology and Department of Dermatology, University of Vienna Medical School; Department of Dermatology, University of Innsbruck Medical School), the ontogeny of specific members of the myeloid and lymphoid cell lineages Institute of Immunology and Department of Dermatology, University of Vienna Medical School), the role of autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of degenerative vascular and allergic diseases (Institute of Experimental Pathology, University of Innsbruck Medical
School, Department of Dermatology and Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Vienna Medical

Secretary General Honorary President
1971 C. Steffen A. Ferstl 
1974 C. Steffen A. Ferstl  
1976 C. Steffen W. Knapp 
1977 C. Steffen W. Knapp  
1978 C. Steffen W. Knapp  
1980 C. Steffen W. Knapp
1982 C. Steffen D. Kraft  
1984 O. Förster
J. Smolen C. Steffen
1986 O. Förster J. Smolen C. Steffen
1988 W. Knapp T. Luger 
C. Steffen
1990 W. Knapp E. Tschachler  
1992 G. Wick N. Neu O. Förster
1994 M. Eibl H. Stockinger O. Förster
1996 K. Schauenstein K. Zatloukal O. Förster
1998 G. Stingl D. Maurer O. Förster
President elect:
D. Kraft
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School), the structural and functional characterization of allergens (Institute of Pathophysiology, University of Vienna Medical School); the search for as well as the characterization of immune cell-associated signaling molecules and their ligands (Institute of Immunology, University of Vienna Medical School), the elucidation of the role of complement components and other factors of the innate immune systems in viral infections (Institute of Hygiene:Medical Microbiology, University of Innsbruck Medical School), and the definition of molecular and cellular defects underlying mmunodeficiency syndromes (Institute of Immunology, University of Vienna Medical School) and autoimmune diseases (Institute of Experimental Pathology, University of Innsbruck Medical School, Department of Rheumatology, University of Vienna Medical School).
Since its foundation the ASAI/ÖGAI has developed very successfully and increased in size now has almost 500 members. It is a society that includes scientists from university as well as industry working in immunology, allergology, and related research areas. Today the ASAI/ÖGAI is a vivid organization that is driven by the enthusiasm and scientific curiosity of its members. The constantly increasing number of young members shows that, from a solid basis, the ASAI/ÖGAI will continue to be the unifying organization of Austrian scientists aiming at shaping the future of allergology and immunology.



Wir thank the supporting members: