Presidential Farewell Address

EuGMS Presidential Farewell – January 2020

Happy New Year to all colleagues and friends in EuGMS. My time is up! The privilege of being your president now passes to my successor Athanase Benetos, who has already served on the Executive as academic director from 2014-2017 and as president elect these last 2 years, so he is well placed to take us forward, and I wish him well with great optimism.

We live in turbulent and uncertain times! BUT, for the EuGMS, I think optimism is well justified. Our work in recent years has expanded our perspective. Geographically, we have spread across Europe. Strategically, we have broadened our mission to the general issue of age attuning healthcare. Scientifically, we have strengthened our role as a partner in several European funded projects.

The support and advice of the full board members has been important to guide our work. The yearly Springtime interactive workshop style meetings of the Board have thrown up numerous insights and suggestions which have found their way into practical actions by the Executive Board, all of whom have played important and distinctive parts in putting the vision into practice.

As we approach the 20-year anniversary of our official launch with nine countries at the Paris Congress in 2001, we now represent 33 countries with several planning to progress from observer status to full membership. This means we have a much larger board but thanks to efforts particularly of our General Secretary Anne Ekdahl, we have improved engagement with member countries, who continue to “refresh” the full board with new representatives. For the experienced colleagues who served for many years on the full board in the early growth period, thank you very much for hanging in there and supporting the journey. Of course, our presence on social media is vital to extend our reach beyond the head offices of our national societies and this continues to develop (thanks largely to Sofia Duque and her Social Media group) but we struggle a little with the limitations of our website and now plan to overhaul this during 2020.

Building our specialty of geriatric medicine must remain central to our strategy but increasingly we have been working with others to pursue broader agendas. For financial and for ethical reasons, we’ve needed to formalise how we work with others and how we accept financial support from Industry or European projects, and Stefania Maggi, our esteemed outgoing past-president, Cornel Sieber, my special adviser, and Georg Ruppe, our scientific liaison officer based in OEPIA in Vienna have all been instrumental in getting these issues straight. They’ve been ably supported by our two finance directors, the late Jean Petermans who sadly died in September and Leo Boelaarts. Our finances now are healthy and much clearer thanks to their efforts. I am grateful that Leo will stay on the Executive this year to support the incoming new member, Francisco José Tarazona Santabalbina (Paco) from Spain.

We see the growing activity and stronger leadership of our special interest groups (SIGs) as a key mechanism for supporting younger researchers, gaining funding for international collaborations and disseminating emerging knowledge throughout our membership and beyond. We must thank Mirko Petrovic for building on the momentum from Athanase (the previous academic director). Dissemination of clinical geriatric science through our journal, European Geriatric Medicine (EGM),  goes from strength to strength with the leadership of Alfonzo Cruz Jentoft. Please ensure you all register on our website for the Table of Content for each issue. The successes of Congresses in Berlin and Krakow have been another achievement of Mirko and his academic board and of course our PCO, Aristea. This a massive slice of the overall EuGMS effort and Mirko’s time, skill and patience are momentous.

In handing over the presidency to Athanase, I must congratulate him on his vision and achieving such successful practical collaborations and results in the two years of the Global Europe Initiative, which has proved to be the key component of our expansion policy.

I am profoundly grateful for the practical assistance, advice and friendship of Benedetta Bellotti in our Secretariat. She has cheerfully and expertly taken on all this extra work. Best wishes and thank you all for the support you gave me as president. I look forward to working with our "new" and "old" colleagues in our next phase. See you in Athens.  


Finbarr C Martin, President 2018-19.