Historical Perspective

In late 1984, Mariano La Via initiated a series of conversations with Jerry Hudson, Paul Hurtubise and Daniel Stites concerning the possibility of organizing a meeting on clinical applications of cytometry. It was apparent that cytometry was growing as a diagnostic and monitoring technology in the clinical laboratory and that it might be useful to establish a forum to exchange information, to present research data and to explore new clinical applications of the rapidly expanding technologies of image and flow cytometry.

In planning for the first Clinical Applications of Cytometry (CAC) meeting, certain basic principles were established and accepted as important. The meeting would be organized by a Steering Committee and constituted as a Not for Profit Corporation; it would be directed to an audience representing all levels of expertise in clinical cytometry; it would encompass discussion of well established applications but would also include presentation of new promising technologies ready for clinical application; and it would foster close collaboration with industry. At that time Charleston was identified as an ideal location for the meeting.

It was agreed during early conversations that this new meeting was not an attempt to compete with the International Society for Analytical Cytology (ISAC), but represented an effort to address a specialized area of application of cytometric techniques and, therefore, was directed at a special audience. The CAC Steering Committee asked the ISAC Council to appoint a liaison member to serve on the Committee. Scott Cram was appointed and became the fifth member of the Steering Committee.

The first CAC meeting took place in September 1986 and was an immediate success. In time, new members were added to the Steering Committee in order to replace Dan Stites and Jerry Hudson who resigned and to enlarge the committee. These new members were John Parker, Janis Giorgi, John Koepke, Brian Mayall, Sally Self, Thomas Fleisher and Leon Wheeless. In 1993 the CAC Meeting was incorporated in the State of South Carolina. The initial officers of the corporation were Mariano La Via, President, John W. Parker, Vice President, and Paul Hurtubise, Secretary/Treasurer.

As attendance at the annual CAC meeting continued to grow, the Steering Committee decided that it was time to consider establishing a journal to serve the needs of the clinical cytometry community and to publish the abstracts submitted to the annual meeting. In January of 1992 the journal concept was approved by the Steering Committee and Mariano La Via and John Parker were asked to prepare and submit a proposal to several publishers in the summer of that year. Three of the publishers responded positively and negotiations were begun. Following successful negotiations with ISAC and the publisher, Wiley-Liss, Communications in Clinical Cytometry (CCC) was launched. Although a section of Cytometry, CCC was clearly identified as a separate journal with its own volume numbers. Mariano La Via and John W. Parker were confirmed as Editors. The ISAC Council and the ISAC Publications Committee approved the arrangement and co-signed the contract with CCS, with Wiley-Liss. Solicitation of manuscripts began in 1993 and the first issue appeared in March, 1994. In the ensuing two and a half years of publication, CCC has become a leader in its field and has experienced a growth rate well beyond everyone's expectations. Starting as a quarterly journal, the Journal will increase to six issues per year in 1997.

In September 1992 the Steering Committee reviewed the continuing growth in number of meeting registrants, the composition of the audience, and the increasing interest in new developments in clinical cytometry. From these considerations it became apparent that a constituency, clearly different from that of ISAC, had been formed. This suggested that the time had come to consider the establishment of a new society to provide a scientific organization and forum for those engaged in all aspects of clinical cytometry and to represent their interests in the regulatory arena. CAC meeting registrants agreed that it was a worthwhile and timely project. After further consideration, legal documents were prepared in late 1992 to establish the Clinical Cytometry Society (CCS) as a Not for Profit' Corporation in the State of South Carolina. It was also decided that the CAC Steering Committee should serve as a transition body in organizing CCS and in holding the first election for officers and council. Once formed, CCS applied for affiliation with ISAC as an associated society. The journal, Communications in Clinical Cytometry (CCC) then became the official journal of the Society.

Attendance at the CAC meeting has continued to grow. The meeting has maintained its format of four plenary sessions, luncheon workshops, poster sessions and oral abstract presentations. In recent years a pre-meeting conference devoted to discussions of flow cytometry and HIV infection has been co-sponsored by CCS and NIAID. Commercial workshops are also presented during the same day.

All who have attended any of the CAC meetings are aware that the meeting has been very successful in achieving the initial goals established by the funding Steering Committee. The eleven meetings held thus far have provided members of the clinical cytometry community with a scientific forum where they can meet with colleagues, discuss mutual interests, present results of their research, learn about new methods or improvements of old methods, and interact with their commercial colleagues who provide the tools for their work. While numbers never tell the whole story, the increase in the number of meeting participants from the initial 270 to over 500 in 1995 indicates that this meeting has met a need.

The publication, (CCC), and the new Society, (CCS), both outgrowths of the CAC meeting have improved communications among clinical cytometrists. All three are thriving. Thus the goals of the individuals who established the meeting in 1984 have been achieved and then some.