Published 01 August 2022
Minutes of the Annual Assembly of Members, held in Milan on Tuesday 5 July 2022 at 18.00 CEST
1. Minutes of the last meeting
- The minutes of the 2021 Annual Assembly of Members (AAM), having been published in Focus on Reproduction (14 July 2021), were unanimously approved by the members present.(1)
2. There were no matters arising.
3. Membership of the Society
- Membership of the Society (as of 30 June 2022) stood at 9379, described by the Chair as ‘very good numbers’. This was an increase of more than 1000 on last year's figure and only slightly below the ‘inflated’ membership of 2020 (when ESHRE membership was a requirement for online access to the annual meeting, Campus events and webinars).
- European members account for more than half (63%) the total. The top European membership countries are UK (786 members), Italy (486) Spain (439), Netherlands (408), Belgium (391), Germany (383), Greece (301), and Denmark (256). India (525 members) now occupies the leading non-European place, with the USA represented by 334 members.
4. Society activities
- Attendance at this year's annual meeting, organised as a ’hybrid’ event of live and online attendance, exceeded all expectations. By the time of this AAM, there had been 1517 registrations for the precongress courses and 10,066 for the main programme, of whom 82% attended in person. These were similar overall numbers to ESHRE’s last ‘live’ annual meeting, when 9473 registered for the main programme in Vienna in 2019. In 2022 Italy unsurprisingly provided the greatest number of participants (712), followed by UK (515), Spain (466) and France (358). Despite travel difficulties, there was still a good attendance from non-European countries, with India represented by 357 registrations.
- There were 1623 abstracts submitted this year, an increase over last year’s 1312 and heading back to the peak years of 2019 (1854 abstracts) and 2018 (1898). ‘I think we are recovering,’ said the Chair.
- ESHRE’s 2023 annual meeting, the Society’s 39th will take place in Copenhagen from 25-28 June.
- The Chair reported that more than 2000 participants had attended 11 virtual Campus courses in 2021, a high attendance rate – though three events were postponed to 2022.
– For 2022 two early Campus workshops were held only online, while 11 were planned as hybrid events. Registrations were high, with attendance at workshops on genetic counselling and on the luteal phase with over 200 and 300 registrations respectively. Of 41 webinars so far planned for 2022, 28 already staged have attracted more than 4000 registered participants.
- Most of the programmes from ESHRE Campus workshops and webinars are available for members on demand via the Society’s eCampus platform.
- The Chair praised the work of the European IVF Monitoring Consortium (EIM) and PGT Consortium. The EIM group has been collecting data retrospectively since 1997 presently from 40 European countries and in its data collection for 2018 had for the first time monitored more than 1 million European ART cycles – ‘a great achievement’, said the Chair.
- Preliminary data for 2019 were presented at this year’s annual meeting. Deadline for data collection for 2020 is April/May 2023.
- Future EIM projects include consideration of new software which is compliant with cumulative outcomes and with EU data collection.
- PGT Consortium Data XIX-XX (for 2016-17) have been submitted and accepted for publication in HROpen. Data for 2018 (XXI) were presented online at last year’s annual meeting and will be submitted for publication later in HROpen. Preliminary data for 2020 were presented at this year’s annual meeting.
- Future projects for the PGT Consortium include adapting the database to aggregated data to decrease workload and encourage increased participation from centres. Data XXIV (for 2021) will be the last prospective data collection.
Guidelines and recommendations
- ESHRE is involved in the development of full guidelines, with high-quality evidence to support 'everyday clinical decision-making', and recommendations for good practice where scientific evidence is 'limited'.
- There are now 21 ESHRE guidelines and recommendations in the portfolio, the most recently published or updated on Endometriosis (2022), Information provision in gamete donation (2022), Classification for endometriosis (2021), MAR and viral disease (2021) and Performance indicators for the ART clinic (2021). New subjects for 2022/23 include publications on Chromosomal mosaicism in PGT, Recurrent implantation failure, guidance on the number on embryos to transfer, and Add-ons.
- The Chair, describing this portfolio as very impressive, thanked ESHRE’s Central Office, the SIGs and the Committee of National Representatives for their work in this development.
ESHRE accreditation and certification
- The Chair explained that ESHRE’s certification schemes enable individual members to demonstrate their expertise and competence; the accreditation scheme is for centres as a mark of their quality of service and training.
- Individual certification has been available to ESHRE members in embryology since 2008, and remains ESHRE’s largest certification programme. This year there were 302 applications for clinical qualification and 159 for senior; exams were held on 11 June and results are expected by mid-July.
- ESHRE programmes in reproductive endoscopic surgery (since 2013), fertility nursing/midwifery (since 2015), and for subspecialist trainees as part of a European Fellowship in Reproductive Medicine (since 2018 and approved by UEMS) continue to be well supported.
- ESHRE’s Training Centre Accreditation scheme for subspecialist training began in 2004 and in 2021 completed two new accreditations and one re-accreditation. It was announced in 2021 that centre applications will now require payment of a fee to cover administrative costs – 500 euro on submission of the application + 1000 euro prior to the on-site assessment visit. There are presently four centres awaiting accreditation, including three for re-accreditation.
- ESHRE’s most recent accreditation scheme, for good clinical practice in ART centres, was introduced in 2019 and presently includes seven certified centres, with an additional 19 in the pipeline.
- A new accreditation scheme was announced last year for centres with training in embryology. Applications from training centres will open in Q4 of 2022.
ESHRE research grants
- Two research grants will be awarded for 2022, one of 75,000 euro and one of 200,000 euro. The former invited research projects on ‘the development and evaluation of e-health support and educational programmes’ for ART, and the latter on ‘the long-term clinical consequences of infertility and fertility treatment’.
- A total of 59 expressions of interest have been received, 28 for the 75,000 euro grant and 31 for the 200,000 euro grant.
- ESHRE’s mentorship programme, introduced as part of a larger ‘strategic exercise’ in March 2022, aims to support the roles of younger members and has already proved of great interest. The first deadline for applications was 1 May 2022, attracting 88 for mentors and 100 for mentees. By June, 26 applicants had been matched.
- Plans for the scheme include application forms aiming to make matching mentors and mentees easier and a larger selection committee.
Exchanges with other societies
- The Chair described ESHRE’s exchange programmes as ‘very active’, with the latest Best of ASRM and ESHRE (in 2021) staged online with a total of 1742 registrations. The next Best Of meeting will take place live in Orlando, USA, on 2-4 March 2023.
- ESHRE’s collaboration with ASRM continues with its usual cordiality and energy, with an ASRM exchange session and precongress course held in Milan. ESHRE will reciprocate at ASRM 2022 (in Anaheim) with an exchange session (on fertility reservation in women with BRCA gene mutations) and a postgraduate course (on embryo selection).
- A combined meeting with the Indian Fertility Society and Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction, titled FUSION 2022, was held online from 4-6 February 2022 in which ESHRE participation included 16 presentations. Both Indian societies were present in Milan with an exchange session on ‘fibroids and fertility’. Other societies also staged exchange sessions and precongress courses at ESHRE 2022 - the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE), Associacion Latinoamericana de Medicina Reproductiva (ALMER), Chinese Medical Doctor Association of Reproductive Medicine (CARM), the Mediterranean Society for Reproductive Medicine (MSRM) and the Middle East Fertility Society (MEFS).
- The Chair reported that ESHRE’s international collaborations will be ‘maintained and further developed’ with the Chinese Society of Reproductive Medicine (CSRM), the Cochrane group, the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA), the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) and the
International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
- EU affairs have become a very busy and important ESHRE activity, and the Chair thanked the committee’s Chair Cristina Magli and Past-Chair Kersti Lundin for their tireless work in developing strategy plans. Now added to the staff in Central Office (since September 2021) is a permanent policy officer.
- The work of the committee is concentrated on the European Commission’s revision of the Tissue and Cells Directives, advocacy for increased funding for research in infertility and its treatment, and submission of a grant proposal to establish a comprehensive cycle-by-cycle registry for assisted reproduction treatments. A decision on this grant proposal is expected soon.
- In line with its long-established ‘mission and vision’ ESHRE has five strategic objectives, outlined by the Chair as disseminating knowledge, stimulating research and innovation, raising awareness and shaping policies, increasing visibility, and strengthening membership. Against this background, the Chair reported that ESHRE is now aiming to set clear strategic goals for the next five years.
- This began with an online survey of ESHRE members involved in Society governance and business asking about current activities and areas for improvement. Results of the survey and SWOT analyses submitted by committee members will be reviewed by the Executive Committee to set strategic objectives as a reference point for progress proposals. The target for defining strategic objectives is end of 2022, with implementation beginning 2023
5. ESHRE journals
- Speaking on behalf of the ESHRE journals, Nils Lambalk, editor-in-chief of Human Reproduction, paid tribute to the journals’ editorial teams and noted some changes:
- Michele Boiani, from the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine Cell and Developmental Biology in Germany, is now editor-in-chief of MHR, supported as deputy editor by Francesca Duncan, from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago.
- Siladitya Bhattacharya, editor-in-chief of HROpen since its launch in 2017, will step down at the end of 2022 to be replaced by his present deputy Edgardo Somigliana from the University of Milan.
- Two new deputy editors have been added to the Human Reproduction editorial team, Boston embryologist Denny Sakkas and epidemiologist Rui Wang from Monash, Australia. Former deputy editor Madelon van Wely has now joined Human Reproduction Update as methodology editor.
- Lambalk reported that these four titles are managed by a single editorial team supported by six statistics/methods editors, 140 associate editors, and 8000 peer reviewers.
- Lambalk reported that manuscript submissions continued to be buoyant throughout 2021 in all ESHRE journals (except Human Reproduction Update, which relies largely on commissioned reviews and new meta-analyses). In 2021, for example, HR received 1608 submitted manuscripts, slightly down from 2020, when submissions to all titles were at a peak. Notably, submissions to HROpen, ESHRE’s open access title, rose from 87 in 2019 to 127 in 2020, and were steady at 120 in 2021. The 2020 surge in submissions, Lambalk wondered, may well be explained as a ‘covid effect’.
- Lambalk added that the acceptance rate for HR had fallen from 26% in 2012 to just 15% in 2021.
- Impact factors for all ESHRE titles, including for the first time HROpen, were announced just before the annual meeting, with HR Update at a record 17.179, MHR at 4.518, and HR at 6.353. Remarkably, in its first year of citation assessment, HROpen recorded an impact factor of 7.130.
6. Financial report
- Bruno Van Den Eede, ESHRE's managing director, presented the balance sheet (income and expenditure) for 2021 and the budget for 2022.
- Income in 2021 (5,414,034.89 euro) was well ahead of 2020 income (2,841,141.32 euro), explained by Van Den Eede by the consequences of lockdown and pandemic restrictions. However, expenditure in 2021 (3,338,060.64 euro), when the annual meeting and all other events were organised online, was similar to that of 2020 (3,407,308.96 euro). Van Den Eede pointed out that the balance sheet income of 2021 had been inflated by a capital gain from investments of around 1.6 million euro, but, even without this item, there was still a favourable balance on the 2021 working accounts of 409,212.39 euro – and still ahead of 2020’s budget projections for 2021. ‘A very positive net result,’ said Van Den Eede.
- Although the budget projected for 2021 had been restricted by the coronavirus pandemic, the annual meeting nevertheless remained ESHRE’s greatest source of income. However, with another virtual meeting in 2021, expenditure on central office (including salaries) proved the Society’s greatest outlay. In all financial reports over the past 30+ years, the annual meeting has been ESHRE’s greatest source of income and expenditure.
- Consequently, the budget devised for 2022 looked ahead to a resumption of normal service, projecting an income of 7,159,231,50 euro, an expenditure of 6,221,320.59 euro and a positive balance of 937,910.91 euro.
- Van Den Eede noted continuing strong revenues from the journals (1,011,258.00 euro in 2021), which in 2021 with a limited annual meeting represented around one-quarter of ESHRE’s income. The Chair, Carlos Calhaz-Jorge, paid special tribute to the journals for their achievements during a difficult time.
- Total capital at the close of 2021 stood at 18,966,574.50 euro, allocated to funds which, said Van Den Eede, followed an investment policy which was a little ‘more dynamic’. ‘ESHRE is still in very good financial shape,’ he reassured members.
- The financial report for the year ending 31 December 2021 and the budget for 2022 were approved by the Assembly members.
7. Election of honorary members
- The honorary ESHRE memberships proposed for 2020 (Basil Tarlatzis and Anders Nyboe Andersen) had been postponed during the pandemic and so will be awarded at the next live opening ceremony in Copenhagen in 2023, a fitting opportunity for everyone to celebrate their awards.
Several questions from the floor were raised during the proceedings of the meeting or as any other business. Queries were on the scoring of an abstract submitted for the annual meeting, the composition of abstracts in journal publications, ESHRE’s response to the US Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion, and the nature of equities in ESHRE’s investment portfolio.
The next Annual Assembly will be on 27 June 2023 at the annual meeting in Copenhagen at 18.00.
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