Scientific societies and associations have played key roles in the development of science and its applications since the seventeenth century. They have stimulated scientific research and disseminated its results. Where a body of scientific principles has had a direct application in, and impact on, daily life, professional associations have codified its practice and provided standards of training and competence for its practitioners, to the public benefit.
The Association of Clinical Biochemists came into being in an age when the application of chemical principles to the study of human disease - a concept with a long scientific pedigree - was beginning to assume the status of a major component of the armamentarium of scientific medicine that it now enjoys. The Association contributed fully to the development of Clinical Biochemistry as an established clinical and scientific discipline, widening the horizons and increasing its impact on healthcare, to the benefit of medical practitioners and their patients. It assisted in this development through its support of the personal contributions of its members, and through its collective contributions to the establishment of high standards of education, training and practice.
Scientific medicine stands today on the threshold of a new age, ushered in by the fundamental discoveries of molecular biology and their applications, and by the striking technical advances in the field of medical imaging. As the Association meets the challenges of the future, it is appropriate to pause to recall those that faced its founders; to record their strongly - often passionately - held views, and to derive what lessons may guide the Association in the future before memories fade.
The Association of Clinical Biochemists (ACB) was formed in 1953. Now, more than 40 years later, many people are unaware of how or why this happened, or of the history of those early years. This history is important because it determined the type of Association which exists today. Although details may have changed, the events and decisions made 40 or more years ago set the pattern for later developments.
During the lifetime of the Association there have been many extraordinarily rapid, fundamental and widespread changes in all areas of laboratory medicine, particularly in clinical biochemistry. The introduction of new technologies has led to profound changes in the way laboratories work. Clinical needs have altered, and new methods of treatment requiring close biochemical monitoring have become commonplace. In most countries throughout the world there have been major changes in methods of delivering health care, and in the United Kingdom multiple reorganisations of the National Health Service (NHS) have affected all who work in it. There have been increasing financial pressures to improve cost effectiveness in all areas of medicine, with clinical biochemistry often being regarded as a soft target for cost-cutting. consequently it is not surprising that the laboratories, staff and equipment of today bear little resemblance to those of 40 years. Inevitably the ACB has been deeply involved in and affected by these changes.
The Association has continued to expand and evolve to meet the needs of the profession and our membership. In 2005 the association name was changed to 'The Association for Clinical Biochemistry' in order to welcome and accommodate medical colleagues into the association. We have also been joined by colleagues from other disciplines in laboratory medicine and in 2007 the 'Association of Clinical Scientists in Immunology' (ACSI) disbanded to merge with the ACB and were followed in 2010 by the 'Association of Clinical Microbiologists' (ACM.) The association celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2013 and at the 2013 AGM it was agreed that, in order to take account of the expanding focus and specialisms of our membership, the organisation would change its name to 'The Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine'