The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists

39th Annual International Meeting


August 26 - 30, 2001
Prague, Czech Republic


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S. Svacina | M. Balikova | R. Wennig | H. Stead

Welcome address by Robert Wennig,
TIAFT President

Her Magnificency Prof. Eva Kvasnickova, Vice-Rector of the Charles University in Prague, Spectabilis Ass. Prof. Stepan Svacina, Dean of the 1st Medical Faculty, Prof. Premysl Strejc, Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Ass. Prof. Vaclav Janousek, Representative of the Czech. Med. Ass. J. E. Purkyne, Ass. Prof. Premysl Klir, Chairman of the Czech Association of Forensic Medicine and Forensic Toxicology.
Dear Honourable guests:
Dr Howard Stead, Chief of the Scientific Section, UNDCP, Vienna,
Dr Pavel Samal, Representative of Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court of the CR,
Dr Lumir Crha, Deputy of the Supreme Public Prosecution of the CR,
Dr Alena Steflova, Representative of Ministry of Health,
Ass. Prof. Marie Balikova, Chairperson of this 39th TIAFT-Meeting 2001,
Dear staff of the Department of Forensic Toxicology from the Charles University of Prague.
Dear members of TIAFT Executive Committee. Dear members of the Local Organising Committee.
Dear members of the Scientific Advisory Board,
Dear members of the Scientific Programme Committee,
and Dear Colleagues,

It is certainly for me a great pleasure, a great honour and a privilege as your president to open this 39th Conference of the TIAFT in one of the most interesting key centres of Europe, a city in a country with a long history, a meeting-point between East and West. Prague has a long history of cultural and academic life. As a matter of fact, the Charles University of is over 650 years old and it is the country's most important academic institution. It has been founded, and I am very proud to say it, by Count Charles IV from Luxembourg back in 1348. He was the King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. After his education in Paris and Bologna he decided to found Bohemias first university, the first university in Central Europe. The First Faculty of Medicine in Prague is one of the oldest medical faculties in Europe. The teaching language was Latin until 1773. During the Austrian Rule it was replaced by German and since 1882 the students have been taught in Czech. Some lectures are given in English since 1992. The German University employed a number of outstanding scientists such as Ernst Mach, Albert Einstein and Karl Cori, and educated a whole constellation of famous Prague German writers (Franz Kafka, Max Brod and others). Charles University also educated many who were to play an important role in the cultural and public life of Czechoslovakia.

Bohemia, Czechoslovakia and The Czech Republic are famous for their many outstanding actors in cultural and intellectual life. May I just recall to you the famous composers Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana and Leos Janacek. But also the less known composers like the Benda Brothers, Frantisek Brixi, Jan Zach, Jan Dismas Zelenka, etc. and closer to us now Vitezslava Kapralova to name but a few provided mankind with an important amount of outstanding music. Prague of today has a wide variety of musical events, theatres, museums, and galleries and exhibitions available.

Prague is an enchanting combination of old and new city with an exciting surrounding countryside. It is certainly a very European city - proud of its historical city centre. Visitors are charmed by the monumental complex of the Prague castle called Hradcany on the top of the hill overlooking the river Vltava (Moldau).

Prague is famous as one of the most beautiful towns in the world and has been attributed, the adjectives "golden" "the crown of the world". a.s.o. A great part of the classical architecture of Prague has been created by Mathieu d'Arras followed by Peter Parler and comissioned by the father of Charles IV, John of Luxembourg, who ruled also as the king of Bohemia. Prague is famous for its oldest bridge in the city the so-called "Charles Bridge" commissioned by Charles IV. In the past Prague has been famous for its defenestrations.

The first took place in 1419. The incident was marking the beginning of the Hussite Revolution in Bohemia. (A popular support for Jan Hus).

The second took place in 1618, caused the Bohemian Revolution and escalated to the Thirty Years War all over Europe.

I am wondering if such events would happen today, a lot of interesting forensic case work would result and come up in our institutes. The city of Prague is listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register since 1992. The Czech Republic is a potential member state of the European Union in the near future.

The international scientific community recognizes the very important contribution of Czech scientists to the scientific knowledge in general e.g. in Physiology where Jan Evangelista Purkyne (1787-1869), in Chemistry where the Nobel Prize winner Jaroslav Heyrovsky(1959), the inventor of polarography and father of modern electrochemistry, and in Analytical Chemistry where e.g. Prof. Karel Macek, past-editor of the J. of Chromatography and awardee of the JS Stas-Medal in 1991 from the GTFCh are highly reputated.

The more than 300 active participants here in Prague, appreciate the contributions of our Czech colleagues to Forensic Toxicology. During this week we are going to focus on current topics of Forensic Toxicology and related areas like: New Analytical Technologies, Alcohol, Drugs and Driving, Workplace Drug Testing, Doping, Clinical Toxicology, Forensic and Environmental Toxicology, as well as Necrokinetics, Alternative Specimen Testing and EQAS. These are all topics with tremendous medical, social and legal implications.

I would now like to wish a great success to this conference, which started so well yesterday with a lovely reception in a nice historical place the Collegium Carolinum. The success of this meeting is of course depending on you all, your contributions by presenting posters and oral communications, participation in discussions and last but not least at the late afterhour-sessions or during other social events. This year the A.Curry Award is allocated to Emeritus Prof. G.Machata who deserves a great international recognition for his scientific work. For your information: Dr A. Curry is one of the most famous forensic scientists from the UK and one of the founding members of TIAFT back in 1963.

I would like also to congratulate already now Ass. Prof. Marie Balikova, her staff and all other local contributors for the perfect organization of this conference. My special thanks go to the past and present Deans of the First Medical Faculty for giving the organisation committee the consent and guaranty to organise this TIAFT meeting under the auspices of Charles University in Prague. They also accept that some members of their staff were not able to work so much for the Faculty, but for TIAFT. I am sure that this conference will be in line with the previous meetings in Interlaken, Padova, ABQ, Cracow and Helsinki as well as with the up-coming TIAFT conferences in Paris, Melbourne, Seoul, Washington DC, Lublijana, Budapest, etc. We have now also an application from China to organize a TIAFT-Conference in the near future. These meetings are important for TIAFT-members because they give them a feeling of a reconforting independency within the larger community of legal medicine or forensic sciences. While optimistic by nature, many TIAFT members are also a little bit worried about the evolution of their profession in the future, as teaching of forensic medicine, forensic toxicology and analytical chemistry has been reduced at many University settings, for reasons that are difficult to understand, and by the fact that many toxicological investigations are made nowadays by non-toxicologists. Do not worry; TIAFT keeps an eye on it and does not accept that toxicology is performed in the Supermarket. We should not forget that toxicological analysis is not the same as analytical toxicology.

For the moment I would like to stop here my address by wishing to all of you that you learn a lot, make new colleagues and friends and thanks again in advance to all the charming team from Prague, and after these words of introduction I declare officially "OPEN" this 39th TIAFT-Meeting 2001.

Robert Wennig
TIAFT President

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