Helping to stem another Ebola epidemic in Africa; monitoring tropical mosquitoes on Belgian soil; upscaling the fight against sleeping sickness in Congo from control to elimination; gathering global experts in Cambodia to review worldwide antimicrobial resistance; initiating a clinical trial for leprosy with 140,000 participants; implementing a new vision on education – these are just a few highlights of another busy and exciting year at the Institute that you will find in the coming pages.
At the governance level the historical reform, as outlined in Cathy Berx’ Foreword, started solidly in a critical transition period. This new structure allows me to conclude my tenure at ITM with even more peace of mind. After 24 years at the helm, I will indeed retire on 30 June 2019. I am very happy that the Board has selected an accomplished scientist and seasoned field worker to take over the reins. Marc-Alain Widdowson is the right person to take ITM to ever-higher levels of excellence and impact.
This governance reform completes somehow the structural work started at the beginning of my tenure in 1995. The first and foremost task was to redefine the goals and mission of the Institute, from which our academic and societal mandates arose i.e. higher education, advanced research, medical services and international cooperation. In the years that followed, these tasks were recognised legally and funded structurally by the competent authorities at federal and Flemish region levels. Internally, the structures and strategies were put in place to turn ITM into a science-driven organisation striving towards health and health care for all. Step by step, generation by generation and evolution upon revolution, this continuous adaptation to an ever-changing environment continues until this day – and for any conceivable future. Supervised and encouraged by ITM’s stakeholders in the General Council, the new Board and management are fully equipped to keep ITM ahead in the evolutionary ‘Red Queen race’ of this 21st century.
It is my heartfelt belief that with sustained focus on both scientific excellence and societal impact, as two sides of one coin, ITM will continue to add value to global science and health worldwide. As our partners in the South ‘switch the poles’, we will continue together to research, teach and apply the magnificent science of tropical medicine, and face the new burning issues of our time such as climate change, infectious disease epidemics and antimicrobial resistance.
I take this opportunity to thank all those who have suffered and supported me over these many years of brinkmanship. I leave the Institute in very good hands, and am sure it will continue to thrive and serve for decades to come. This annual report is the final edition for me, but most certainly not for ITM. Enjoy your reading!
Prof Dr Bruno Gryseels