Bruce Robinson remembers the very earliest mention of an iMig:
“Marie-Claude and I were having a morning coffee in a cafe in Montparnasse. [I had been visiting Paris to give a talk or something] and we discussed the lack of mesothelioma reagents [cell lines etc], the lack of international cooperation and the absence of a forum to share ideas. Hence IMIG was born. We both agreed that we didn’t want an 'organisation', but a loose interactive group without much formality, which is why the term 'interest group' was used.”
Marie-Claude Jaurand chronicles the early history of iMig:
In September of 1991, an International Conference on mesothelioma was held in Paris (1). This was the first conference devoted to the biology and pathology of mesothelial cells. Studies of mesothelioma in the past having mainly addressed the relationship with asbestos exposure, this meeting intended to bring together specialists interested in the clinical, biological and epidemiological aspects of malignant mesothelioma, independently of the context of asbestos-related problems. During that conference, a group of medical scientists from different countries met and suggested the formation of an “International Mesothelioma Interest Group” to improve communication and collaboration among workers interested in this disease. The proposal was made by Bruce Robinson at the end of the meeting and the decision was unanimous. IMIG was founded. The aims of the group were (2):
- To hold an international mesothelioma conference on alternate years, alternating between Europe and USA, generally as a satellite to either the respiratory or cancer research meetings on either continent.
- To improve collaboration by generating a list of available resources such as cell lines, monoclonal antibodies, probes etc. as well as making available a list of current research projects and other laboratory techniques that might facilitate collaboration.
- To produce a newsletter for members on a regular basis.
- To foster international interest groups to address specific issues of importance, e.g. early diagnosis, thoracoscopy, comparison of national mesothelioma registers etc.
At that time, there was a registration fee (FF 100) to cover secretarial costs and to provide some funds to organize meetings. It was later omitted because of the difficulties of collecting funds with different currencies. Brenda Gerwin was our efficient Treasurer from 1991 to 1997.
The second IMIG conference was held in May 1993, on the weekend prior to the American Thoracic Society meeting in San Francisco USA (3). Members of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group met in June 1994 during the fourth International Association for the study of Lung Cancer Conference to develop a new TNM staging system. The proposed new International Mesothelioma Interest Group system was published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (4).
The third IMIG Conference was held in Créteil, France, in September 1995 (5) and the fourth IMIG meeting at the Cancer Center, hosted by University of Pennsylvania, USA, in May 1997 (6). While these four meetings mainly focused on pleural mesothelial cells, the fifth meeting was organized as a joint meeting with the International Congress on Peritoneal Repair and Adhesions (PAX). It was held at Grantham Lincolnshire, U.K. in October 1999 (7).