The idea of making the Society more interactive for members began back in 1992 and at that year’s September Committee meeting potential volunteers to set up Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were discussed:
Christine Eckers, Glaxo
- Quality Issues
Chris Curry, Metropolitan Forensic Science Laboratories
- Networking & Computer Systems
Walter Blackstock, Glaxo
- New Users
Dave Portwood, DowElanco
- Re-branding of the existing MS/MS Users Group
Bill Morden, ICI
Later, in 1993, a Proteins Group was discussed but it was thought there was no need to do more in this area but it should be kept under review. A similar discussion occurred re a Biomedical Group in 1999.
At the 1993 3 Day Annual Meeting at the University of Kent the very first SIG meeting was run by the Fundamentals Group (John Parker, Heriott-Watt University). In addition several workshops were arranged, including ones on Networking & Computers, and Protein MS. As the workshops attracted around 30 people each they proved there was enough interest to formalise the idea of SIGs, and a sum of £250 per annum was offered to help run each.
In November 1993 the New Users Group became the first SIG to arrange a separate meeting when they met at DowElanco under the direction of Dave Portwood and Andy Penman (Quintiles). The following month saw the first Robinson College LC-MS Symposium and Course arranged by Christine Eckers, the start of the most successful SIG and a format that would run biennially until 2009. These three initial SIGS were advertised to new members when they joined.
The Quality Issues SIG held its first meeting in January 1994 at Hoechst, led by Chris Curry and Bob Ardrey (University of Huddersfield). Later in the year the Networking & Computers SIG was formed by Alan Payne (Kodak) and Don Daley (RhonePoulencRorer). Meanwhile the Fundamentals SIG went on to arrange a 1 day meeting at the University of Warwick in the September and met again in December 1995 at the University of Wales, Swansea.
A sixth SIG was formed by Paul Dennis at the University of East Anglia and met there in January 1995 to discuss Stable Isotope MS. Co-founding this SIG was Hillary Kennedy of the University of Wales, Bangor and they requested £500 from BMSS to set up the meeting. This is the longest standing SIG we have and it is still running meetings.
It took some time to re-brand the existing MS/MS Users Group led by Bill Morden (ICI Runcorn) into a BMSS Special Interest Group but in 1994 it joined the rest giving members the many opportunities to get involved in topics specific to their own work but run under the umbrella of the BMSS.
Another existing group which joined the SIG process was Interface 2000 (chaired by Robin Brownsill, Servier), a group of industrial users based around the Thames Valley area, which ran a forum for discussions with the manufacturers. Following discussions with the Committee in November 1994, and an invitation for comments from the BMSS membership, they were asked to run a Sunday night forum with the manufacturers at the 3 Day Annual Meeting in Swansea in 1996. A Sunday forum ran the following year as a debate based on “Are mass spectrometrists a dying breed?” Although this group faded after a few years the idea of local user groups was re-introduced later by the London Biological MS Discussion Group.
In 2004 formal guidelines for SIGs were produced along with a financial proforma for requesting support for meetings.
Chronology and evolution of SIGS (from BMSS minutes):