Interasma Global Asthma Association

History of Interasma

INTERASMA Through the Years, by Albert K. Oehling
1956 – 1996

It was in 1954 that some of the pioneers of European allergology, including Hansen, Quarles Van Ufford, Sangiorgi and Duchaine, decided to create the International Association of Asthmology after discussing the problems than bronchial asthma was raising in internal medicine, pediatrics, allergology and respiratory medicine. Prof. Sangiorgi in particular devoted himself with considerable energy to this project. The Association was registered in Milan in 1954, and a year later, on May 25, 1955, the first official founding meeting took place in Utrecht, organized by Dr. Quarles van Ufford. Also present at this meeting were Professors Hansen, Sangiorgi, Duchaine and Wolfer-Bianchi, among others. Later, at the first Congress (held in Lubeck) and at subsequent meetings, the following were admitted as founding members: Sánchez-Cuenca (Spain), Varela Fuertes (Uruguay), Spoujitch (Yugoslavia), Holler (Austria), Vera Walker (United Kingdom), Capuani (Italy), Gronemeyer (Germany), Fuchs (Germany) and Damas Mora (Portugal). I joined INTERASMA in 1957, when the Association did not have more than 50 members.

From the beginning, as my mentors Hansen and Gronemeyer clearly stated, the idea in founding INTERASMA was not to compete with the International Association of Allergology, or with the then recently created European Academy of Allergology, although many thought this at the time. I still remember critical comments from some very close friend of mine, pointing out that INTERASMA was trying to compete with these societies. But nothing could be further from the truth, since asthma is a “multidisciplinary” illness, and the aim of the Association was (and still is) to unite the efforts of internists, pediatricians, allergologists, and chest physicians, and so provide a better standard of care for asthmatic patients. By the late 1950s, the increase of bronchial asthma in health statistics was already beginning to worry us. It was a question of uniting diagnostic criteria and therapies in a way that would lead to effective means of treating and managing asthma, and of unifying methods of study and research so that the complex etiopathogenesis of this illness could be better understood. At no stage did the Association try to reduce the importance of any other society.

The initially small group of members gradually grew, the Association being joined by exceedingly active members such as Zerbib (France), Erikson- Lihr (Finland), Businco (Italy), Werner (Germany), Sugihara (Japan), Dias da Costa (Brazil), Ado (Russia), Berg (USA), Findeisen and Sylla (GDR), Hochli (Switzerland), Liska (Prague), Farrerons (Spain), and many others. It is truly difficult for me to remember now all the eminent asthma investigators who were involved in the initial phases of INTERASMA.

It was in Helsinki, in 1972, that I was appointed Secretary General, and a more active period in INTERASMA’s life began. This period lasted until 1981. During this time our statutes were renewed, and INTERASMA ‘s Chapters began to be active. Two Chapters were established for Europe, three for Africa, two for Asia, three for America and one for Australia. In this way the various Annual Meetings appeared, in order to increase interest in INTERASMA in the various regions. Surprisingly, these meetings were extremely successful in terms of the participation of pediatricians, internists, chest physicians, and allergologists. The first meeting took place in Havana (Cuba) in 1974. In honor of the occasion, the prestigious Cuban painter Portocarrero, a man of international renown, presented our Association with the logotype that we are still using today. It represents on the one hand the profile of a dyspneic situation on both sides, and on the other hand a bronchoconstriction in front view. I think that this Congress will stay in the minds of all of us who participated as a very pleasant memory.

These meetings have continued taking place subsequently, and the number of participants has increased steadily from one to the next. The INTERASMA World Congresses and Chapter meetings held to date are listed in Tables 1 and 2.

As the Association grew, the conclusion was reached that creating national societies of asthmology was not as important as creating INTERASMA Chapters, that in their different regions could interact and promote joint efforts among all the various specialties interested in asthma. This form of organization has also resulted in the annual regional meetings and Chapter meetings, held independently of the World Congress (which takes place every three years), thus giving strength to the philosophy of INTERASMA in the different regions of the world.

Finally, I would also like to highlight the excellent work that Prof. Godard has done as Secretary General during the past six years. His wonderful efforts have culminated in the creation of Asmanet, the international network based on the modern information superhighway that is helping to develop the asthma knowledge base through person-to-person communication.

1st Congress 1956, Lubeck/Bad Lippspringe
President: Professor Dr. K. Hansen
2nd Congress 1957, Lisbon
President: Dr. Mario Damas Mora
3rd Congress 1960, Bordighera-Grasses
President: Professor P. Sangiorg
4th Congress 1963, Toulouse
President: Dr. James Duchaine
5th Congress 1966, Utrecht
President: Dr. W. J. Quarles van Ufford
6th Congress 1970, Lisbon/Luanda-Madeira
President: Dr. Mario Damas- Mora
7th Congress 1972, Helsinki
President: Dr. Zaida Eriksson-Lihr
8th Congress 1975, Vlissingen
President: W.J.Quarles van Ufford
9th Congress 1978, New Orleans
President: Professor D. Johnstone
10th Congress 1981, Paris
President: Professor D. Vialatte
11th Congress 1984, Mexico
President: Professor Dr. J.L. Cortés
12th Congress 1987, Barcelona
President: Professor Dr. Alberto Oehling
13th Congress 1990, Maebashi
President: Professor Setsuo Kobayashi
14th Congress 1993, Jerusalem
President: Dr. Israel Glazer
15th Congress 1996, Montpellier
President: Professor Philippe Godard
16th Congress 1999, Buenos Aires
President: Hugo Neffen
17th Congress 2003, St. Petersburg
President: Dr. Allen P. Kaplan
18th Congress 2006, Guadalajara
President: Professor Revaz Sepiashvili
19th Congress 2008, Monte Carlo
President: Professor Theodore Popov
20th Congress 2010, Athens
President: Professor Ronald Dahl
21st Congress2012, Quebec City
President: Professor You Yon Kim
22nd Congress2014, Mexico City
President: Professor Carlos E. Baena Cagnani
23rd Congress2016, Madrid, Spain
President: Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica
24th Congress2018, Tokyo, Japan
President: Professor Ken Ohta
1985 Warsaw – Poland
President: K. May
1991 Central America – Acapulco
President: J. Huerta Lopez
1991 Europe – Funchal
President: A. G Palma-Carlos
2014 North Asia – Japan
President: Sigenori Nakajima
2014 Greece – Athens
President: Carlos E. Baena-Cagnani
2015 North Asia, Japan
Organization: Interasma Japan
2016 North Asia, Japan
Organization: Interasma Japan
1991 ACAAI
Argentina-Buenos Aires
President: J Fabiani
1992 Italian – Latin – American Association Naples
Italy – Naples
President: G. Mellilo
1993 International meeting of Respiratory Allergy Lisbon
Portugal – Lisbon
President: A.G. Palma Carlos
1995 Poznan – Poland
President: J. Fischer
1997 GAILL and Luso-Brasilian Society – AG Palma-Carlos
Spain – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
President: A. Palacios
2009 – 2010 Bilbau
President: I. Ansotegui