Published on: 25-04-2021

Photo by Meg Boulden on Unsplash

26 Apr 2021

If you have ever ridden on a roller coaster, you know the emotions that go along with it.  First, you patiently (or impatiently) wait your turn in the queue.  Then you nervously ensure that the harnesses are correctly buckled and tight.  You are thrilled as the ride starts up that first big incline.  You glance out at the breathtaking view at the top, but then you feel terror as you realize that what goes up, must come down.  Then that weightless feeling hits you as your heart seems to drop into your stomach during the first drop! But relief quickly sets in when that first drop is over, and you experience the thrill of the rest of the ride.  At the end, you are proud that you made it through unharmed, yet disappointed that the ride ended so soon. Should you get right back into the queue and do it again?

It has sure seemed like we have been on a roller coaster ride when it comes to having our next TIAFT Conference.  By now you should have received the message that a decision has been made to postpone the annual meeting until early 2022.  As with all the decisions we have had to make around the pandemic, this too did not come easily.  But in evaluating the current situation throughout the world, as well as looking into our “crystal ball”, the Board and the meeting organizers believe we CAN have a successful in-person conference that starts in late January in Cape Town.  We hope that by then vaccinations have become much more widely available, the virus and its many variants have become better controlled, and that travel restrictions have been lifted.  And if we are wrong, we have a back-up plan – a fully virtual TIAFT Conference will occur, but only if we are unable to safely meet face-to-face in South Africa.  So, one way or another, we are going to get to the end of this roller coaster ride!

For the past few months, I have been promising a new Member’s Area to the TIAFT website that is more user-friendly.  By this, I mean it has easier access to the member directory, the upcoming TIAFT events, our important announcements, and the TIAFT document library containing the Bulletin (and back-issues), as well as previous TIAFT conference abstracts and proceedings.  I am happy to announce the waiting is over and that by the first full week in May, you should receive a personal email (to your registered TIAFT membership email address) that invites you to set up your new account profile.  I hope you will take some time to explore the new system and give us feedback as to additional features you would like to see in the part of the website accessible only to TIAFT members.

In my last message, I announced the formation of a new Continuing Education Committee.  I am happy to report that the committee has been working diligently over the last few months and will soon announce their first event. Stay tuned!

And last, I am pleased to announce a new educational opportunity for TIAFT Members.  TIAFT Honorary Member Brian Finkle – a founding member of TIAFT – has provided a generous donation to the association that allows for the initiation of grants for members to visit other laboratories for education and information exchange. The new program is called the Bryan S. Finkle Visiting Scientist Grant and will cover the expenses for a TIAFT member’s travel, lodging, and meals related to the education of DCF members or their laboratories. There will be two possible scenarios in which the award will be used: 1) a DCF Member may apply to visit another TIAFT Member’s laboratory to receive training or 2) a Standard Member may apply to visit a DCF Member’s laboratory to provide training to the laboratory’s toxicology staff. In both instances, the training will focus on analytical methods, instrument operation, quality assurance, and other relevant topics in the fields of forensic and clinical toxicology. While the Board is working to finalize details of how to apply for the grant and the logistics of matching appropriate candidates, I wanted to share this exciting information with the membership as we come to the end of our roller coaster ride.  Hopefully, the thrill of it all will make you want to jump back into the queue for another go at it!

Marc A. LeBeau, PhD F-ABFT

TIAFT President