Published on: 21-06-2023

Dear TIAFT Members,

The celebration of our 60th Jubilee Anniversary meeting in London held on 19th of April 2023 was a great success. I am pleased to report that approximately 105 TIAFT members were able to attend our very special meeting at the House of Commons in London, UK.

It was so pleasing to see so many familiar faces who had gathered in this very special place from across the world. It was the only time that I remember where we had nine past presidents present in the one venue - that was a truly special moment.

Above: Bryan S. Finkle and Joanne Elizabeth Martin.

All TIAFT members were warmly welcomed by Professor Joanne Elizabeth Martin, who is the Deputy Vice Principal of Health at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at the Queen Mary University (London). We would like to express our gratitude and thanks for the support provided by Queen Mary University; it would not have been possible without their commitment.

The programme commenced with a brief history of TIAFT presented by Bryan Finkle and Alain Verstraete. Bryan was able to give us an appreciation of how difficult it was to set up TIAFT as a breakaway group from the forensic pathologists and other forensic sciences. He spoke of the drive of George Clark and Alan Curry, and with efforts from other toxicologists in the USA and UK – the ‘breakaway’ group was formed in 1963. Alain then gave us an even more detailed history that shaped TIAFT over the last 60 years with milestone events – such as the first meetings in different continents around the world. Alain spoke fondly of the developments in South America and all the committees that have assisted members throughout the world. One thing that was key in both these excellent presentations was the importance of our main communication tool throughout our 60 years’ existence - the TIAFT Bulletin. It was and remains our connection with the past, present and the future.

We then progressed to an overview of analytical advancements over time and were given another fine presentation from Simon Elliott (President-elect). The highlight of the day was the panel discussion with past presidents (nine of them) – Bryan Finkle, Rokus De Zeeuw, Robert Wennig, Marilyn Huestis, Pascal Kintz, Olaf Drummer, Alain Verstraete, Heesun Chung and Marc LeBeau. The questions posed to our past presidents and their subsequent responses gave us all an insight into their challenges as key figures in our association’s history. They spoke of the difficulties of expanding and improving TIAFT, but also of the lifelong memories of unforgettable experiences in different corners of the world. They also provided us with their collective wisdom on issues for TIAFT for the future.

Above: TIAFT Past Presidents – in order (left to right): Bryan Finkle, Pascal Kintz, Marilyn Huestis, Olaf Drummer, Rokus De Zeeuw, Robert Wennig, Heesun Chung, Marc LeBeau and Alain Verstraete.

After lunch we had a pathologist’s perspective on the importance of toxicology in medico-legal investigations by Australian forensic pathologist Noel Woodford. A glimpse of toxicology issues for the future were provided by three outstanding “younger” toxicologists – Andrea Steuer, Luca Morini and Sarah Wille – we are in good hands everyone!

Alberto Salomone gave an insight of the important training he has undertaken with colleagues in Algeria - proudly supported by the Bryan S. Finkle Visiting Scientist Grant. This practical initiative will enable capacity building across the world, provided by TIAFT members for TIAFT members, generously funded by Bryan himself. And in closing the effervescent Wayne Jones gave us a curated summary of celebrities who had dabbled with drugs and failed. The ageless Tony Moffat then completed proceedings with a historical account of Sherlock Holmes - not many of us knew that Holmes used brandy 28 times in published stories – on 20 occasions as a restorative drink but 8 times for social occasions! An afternoon “restorative” drinks session was then had on the River Terrace in the House of Commons, followed by dinner in the Members Dining Room.

On behalf of the current TIAFT Board we sincerely thank all who attended. I am extremely proud of our association and am so fortunate to have been its president at this time. No doubt the 75th anniversary may be somewhat different - but TIAFT will still be around and in good shape. After all, it’s our members who run this association with many exciting developments on the cards for the future.

We are working on establishing a wider representation of the Board that better reflects our membership from around the world. We will present a plan at the business meeting in Rome and members will be able to vote on a proposal in the coming months.

We also are considering changes to some aspects of the constitution as is required to ensure our association remains current and in step with changing times. One thing that remains is that TIAFT is a volunteer-run association – we don’t have anyone that is paid to do any of the work (unlike other associations). So, there are some initiatives we are considering, to make all our lives easier. One thing that you do as a TIAFT member is log in to your member profile to ensure it is current (here is the direct link). The most basic of requirements is that you pay your dues, and keep your email and mailing addresses up to date. This ensures less work for our amazing secretary Carmen Jurado – who does an enormous amount of work. From our last Board meeting in London, Carmen reported that 580 members had not renewed their membership! This creates an extra email or two that Carmen needs to send out to remind standard members to pay or DCF members to log in to the website to ensure their membership is current. If you are a DCF member - TIAFT is free for you! But PLEASE log into the website to ensure your membership is current - that’s all you need to do! Below is a breakdown of lapsed membership – I am asking all of you to look at your membership status if you haven’t done so by the time you read this.

Member Category Lapsed Membership as of April 11, 2023
Standard 195
DCF 364
Honorary 6
Retired Members 15
Total 580

Our colleagues in Rome have now completed the scientific program and we are very much looking forward to the conference in August. If you have not registered, please do so asap, especially as we move into the European summer months which means hotel accommodation may be challenging if not booked early. Francesco, Simona and their team have been working very hard to ensure a great TIAFT experience.

Once again, a Regional Latin-American TIAFT meeting will be held in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our colleague and long-time TIAFT member Eleuterio Umpierrez is the meeting host and will welcome colleagues from November 13-16, 2023. We will have a link to this regional meeting on our website very soon.

Future TIAFT Meetings are also on the agenda for the business meeting in Rome. Please submit your proposals to host the 64th Annual TIAFT meeting in 2027 by August 11, 2023. The Board needs time to consider these applications before voting, such that any feedback can be provided back to any prospective host prior to the business meeting in August.

In London we unveiled our new TIAFT Flag and replaced the old one – the new flag is with this year’s Annual meeting hosts and the old flag including the old president’s medallion will be permanently stored in the Royal Chemistry Society in London. We have made arrangements for these priceless TIAFT artefacts to be kept in an appropriate location for all of our members in perpetuity.

On a sadder note, our colleague and friend Professor Leda Giannuzzi (ARG) passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. On a personal note, I met Leda many times at various TIAFT meetings and always remember her smiling face and friendly nature. She was instrumental with Professor Luis Ferrari in ensuring the 2014 Buenos Aires meeting in South America was a great success. We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

And finally, the latest episodes of the TIAFT ToxPod can be found here.

Until next time, safe travels and see you in Rome,

Dimitri Gerostamoulos

TIAFT President