Published on: 29-12-2023

Dear TIAFT members,

As 2023 fades we can reflect on what has been a challenging but productive year for our association. Highlights include our 60th Year Jubilee celebration in London, our wonderful Annual Meeting in Rome, our award winners, many TIAFT regional meetings and improved functionalities and membership benefits for all.

From a personal point of view, I would also like to thank our committees who volunteer their time to make TIAFT a unique professional association.  I would like to thank my fellow board members for their commitment and contribution to TIAFT and look forward to going around for one more year before my term as president ends.  In fact, from January 1st 2025 TIAFT will have a very different and expanded board.  I would also like to pay tribute to members who are no longer with us and recognise their contribution to our membership.

We have some constitutional changes which I summarised in an email recently, but to those who missed that, the details are reproduced in my message below. We have made the changes required for our members website – but if anything arises that is an issue, please contact us at info@tiaft.org.

Voting has ended on the three proposals improving the functionality of our association that required constitutional change. The reasons for these proposed changes were included in my last message to all members.

Specifically, the changes relate to:

  1. Expansion of the TIAFT Board for Regional Representation
    • Article 3 , Section 1 – Board Members and Terms of Office: The Executive Board of the Association shall consist of a President, a President-Elect, the immediate Past-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and six other elected Board Members (one each from the following continents/regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean (includes South America). They shall serve for three-year terms.
  2. Application Fee for New Members
    • Article 2, Section 1 - General: Application for membership requires the support of two TIAFT members in good standing, as well as endorsement of the Regional Representative or at least one member of the Executive Board. A non-refundable fee equal to the current year’s annual dues will be charged at application. The application fee will be applied to that year’s annual dues if the applicant is accepted into the organization.
  3. Change to DCF Membership Fee and Benefits
    • Article 2, Section 2 – Membership Categories: DCF Members: Members living in developing countries are granted a reduction in their annual TIAFT membership dues if payment will have a significant financial impact. The annual membership dues charged to DCF Members will not exceed 50% of the amount charged to Standard Members. DCF Members will receive online access to the TIAFT Bulletin and online access to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. DCF status will be reviewed and determined by the newly elected incoming Board at the beginning of its term;
    • Article 4, Section 1 - Amount: The Treasurer shall set the amount of the annual dues for each category of membership with the agreement of the Executive Board and with the approval of the voting members present at the annual Business meeting. This amount shall be reviewed in relation to the Association's financial position each year. The dues are reduced for qualifying DCF members. The list of countries that qualify for DCF status is determined by the Board.

Outcomes of the voting

Each proposal required a two-thirds majority of the voting members casting an electronic ballot for the proposed amendments to be approved. As shown in the table below these changes have overwhelmingly been passed by the members who voted.

 Proposal # 

   For   

   Against     Abstained 

1

 454 

26

11

2

394

57

40

3

379

85

27

Summary of voting for the three constitutional changes.

These changes will be incorporated in our Constitution and will take effect on January 1, 2024. From an operational and administrative function, these changes will improve our association.  

What does this mean for our members? Well as per our strategic objectives for 2022-24, we felt it was necessary to expand the TIAFT Board to ensure better representation of members from around the world. TIAFT has now almost 2100 members and a greater worldwide representation for the Board is warranted and in keeping with our expanding association.

The 5 Executive positions (President, President-elect, Secretary, Treasurer and Past President) will remain open to candidates from any part of the world; the ordinary Board positions will now be expanded to 6 positions – these will be from continents/geographical regions as defined by the United Nations:

  • Africa
  • Asia (includes Central, Eastern Southern and Western Asia)
  • Europe
  • Oceania
  • North America
  • Latin America and the Caribbean (includes South America).

One candidate from each of these continent/geographical regions will be selected by eligible voting members to serve in the ordinary Board positions.  All voting will be conducted electronically via the members website. A call for nominations for positions will be detailed early in the new year (2024). The benefit of this proposal is that the TIAFT Board will now have guaranteed representation from all regions of the world. A reminder that at the end of the Annual TIAFT Meeting in St Gallen in September 2024 – there will be a new TIAFT Board. Any member can nominate candidates for office by writing to the President at least 30 days before the annual Business meeting held at the triennial meeting in which elections will occur (as such, August 6th 2024 will be the last day that nominations will be accepted).

Regarding the Application fee for new members, the TIAFT Board had recognised a challenge with timely payment of dues by new members. TIAFT traditionally receives a surge of new applicants in the months prior to our annual or regional meetings. Newly admitted members are afforded reduced registration fees to attend these meetings.  Currently, new Standard Members are asked to pay these dues within 2 weeks of their acceptance into TIAFT; however, a significant number fail to make this payment by the deadline and are then sent multiple reminders to do so. This change to the process will require all new candidates seeking TIAFT membership to submit an application fee equal to the current year’s dues payment with their application. This will then serve as that year’s dues. The benefit of this change is that it is a more useful and efficient use of the Secretary’s time and ensures that individuals wishing to join TIAFT are committed to being a member of our association. There are some updates to the back-end of our membership database which we will need to make for January 1st 2024 (currently in progress).

The last constitutional change related to the DCF membership fee and benefits. The DCF Membership category of TIAFT was developed to expand the membership of the organization and enable less developed countries to become members. For more than 25 years, DCF members have enjoyed a complimentary membership, significantly reduced registration fees to all meetings, access to travel grants, online access to the TIAFT Bulletin, free education webinars, access to free scientific texts, free analytical program developments, and more recently the annual Bryan S. Finkle Visiting Scientist Grants. TIAFT membership also allows its DCF members easy access to the world’s forensic toxicologist network. All of these benefits will continue to part of a DCF membership. However, the costs of maintaining our membership database, our website, our meetings, and other associated expenditures of a 2000+ membership association (all run by volunteers) has now necessitated a change in DCF membership. From January 1, 2024, the DCF annual dues fee will be set at $20 USD (a rate that is no more than 50% of the dues charged to Standard Members). The benefit of this proposal is that it will require DCF members to annually log in to their account to pay annual dues, help the organization ensure that contact information is current for all members, provide an added DCF member benefit of online access to the TIAFT official journal, and reduce some of the administrative burden on the TIAFT Secretary and Regional Representatives from DCF countries.

These changes will also result in updates to many of our documents - we are working on revising those important organisational policies and guidelines.

I also recently went to Vienna to attend a meeting of invited forensic experts at the United Nations.  Other TIAFT colleagues including Past-President Heesun Chung (Korea) and Hooi Yan Mooy (Singapore) were also present, and along with other notable invitees, we reviewed initiatives to improve the functionality of UNODC NPS portal and the free UNODC proficiency programmes for laboratories. I will have more to say on this in my next message.

Kind regards,

Dimitri Gerostamoulos, 

President
The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists
www.tiaft.org