International contacts developed very early in the history of MRI. As early as April 1976, an international NMR imaging meeting was organized in Nottingham (UK), followed by a second conference in Winston-Salem in North Carolina (USA) in 1981. The Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (SMRM) was founded in Boston (USA) in 1982. A second society (Society of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, SMRI), aimed towards radiologists in the USA, was founded at the same time. In 1994, SMRM and SMRI merged to form SMR, the Society for Magnetic Resonance (now named ISMRM, the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine).
The first European effort aimed at teaching users started in 1982: the European Workshop on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, known today as the European Magnetic Resonance Forum (EMRF) Foundation. The first annual meeting of the European Workshop was held in Mons (Belgium) in 1983.
On 14 and 15 October 1983, some 300 participants gathered for the "First Symposium on NMR" in Geneva. At this meeting, it was decided to found a European NMR society. The moving forces were Max-André ˆopf, a radiologist from Geneva, and Margaret Foster, a scientist working at the Department of Biomedical Physics and Bioengineering of the University of Aberdeen.
In 1984, radiologists and physicists combined to organize an informal group to discuss the common interest in establishing a society structure to gather professionals working in the field of MR in medicine and biology. Statues for the new society were prepared and ratified during its first congress in Geneva in autumn 1984 and were continuously adapted and amended during the following years.
Later on a society was founded which had its seat in Geneva, Switzerland. John Mallard of Aberdeen became founding president and Peter A. Rinck followed him in this position in the years 1985 - 1987. The European Workshop agreed to an association with the ESMRMB. The second congress of the ESMRMB was held in Montreux, Switzerland, from 1-3 October 1985, the third in Aberdeen, from 22-24 September 1986. In 1986, Erik Boijsen, president of the European Association of Radiology (EAR), wrote to his fellow-members on the board of the EAR, that it was important to support ESMRMB, and thereby gave significant help in the development of the newly formed organization.
The meeting planned in Italy in 1987 was, unfortunately, cancelled at short notice. However, the EMRF integrated the Society meeting into its annual meeting in London. Common meetings were then continued until 1991, when scientific and educational meetings were separated once again.
In 1989, the European Workshop and ESMRMB joined SMRM in a tripartite conference, led by SMRM, in Amsterdam. Since then, there have been two more joint meetings (SMR/ESMRMB in Nice 1995 and ISMRM/ESMRMB in Glasgow 2001).
The annual meeting in 1990 was arranged in Strasbourg and the one in 1991 in Zurich. The size and quality of the meetings grew slowly, but surely. After the Zurich meeting, the EMRF Foundation and ESMRMB discontinued their cooperation. It was agreed that the society would now be able to run on its own and would continue to organize scientific meetings. It was recognized that a growing society and an ever-increasing annual congress required a permanent logistic organization. Thus, negotiations were started with the business office of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), and in late 1994 a permanent office of the ESMRMB was installed in Vienna. At the same time, the society was incorporated in Austria as a non-profit organisation and new statutes were set up in 1995 . The application was signed by Gustav von Schulthess. A contract for administrative assistance was signed between the European Congress of Radiology and the ESMRMB by Axel Haase (ESMRMB), and Albert L. Baert (ECR). Since then, the ESMRMB Office has been located in Vienna.
In 1994, MAGMA became the official journal of the society. Also, since the late 1990s, ESMRMB has organized basic and advanced clinical MR courses on its own under the name "School of MRI".
The 9th annual meeting of the society was arranged together with the SMRM in Berlin, and the following meetings were conducted in Rome, Vienna, Nice (joint meeting with ISMRM), Prague, Brussels, Geneva, Sevilla, Paris, and Glasgow (joint meeting with ISMRM). At the Annual Business Meeting in Glasgow, a Strategic Planning Committee was formed in the response to the need of further modernizing the structure of the Society. As a direct result of the work in this committee, a new structure and new statutes of our Society were approved at the Rotterdam meeting in 2003. For a detailed list of past meetings please click here!
Professor Peter Rinck is gratefully acknowledged for help with preparing the text.