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A message from our new President

Professor Tracy Hussell at BSI Congress 2022
Professor Tracy Hussell at BSI Congress 2022

At our AGM on Tuesday 6 December during BSI Congress 2022, Professor Tracy Hussell became President of our organisation, taking over from Professor Arne Akbar after his four-year term of office. To mark the start of her Presidency, Professor Hussell has written an open letter to the membership about her aims for the organisation.

“I am incredibly honoured to start my role as the new President and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the British Society for Immunology (BSI). I am Professor of Inflammatory Disease at the University of Manchester and Director of the Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation, and I have been an active BSI member for many years. In that time I have been involved with the Society’s activities in a range of ways, including as Education Secretary and as a Trustee. I also sat on the BSI Board before COVID-19 and saw the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our field. I am excited now to be taking on in this important role, in which I hope to ensure an increased exposure of the science of immunology and the benefits it brings to health.

“The BSI plays a critical role connecting and supporting our community and being a positive force for immunology. We are currently half way through our strategic plan which runs until 2025 and I am keen to build on our achievements so far to enhance collaboration between immunologists from all sectors, attract and retain talent, and enable immunology to thrive.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Professor Arne Akbar, the outgoing BSI President, for his outstanding leadership and dedication to the BSI during his term. Under his guidance, the BSI made remarkable achievements, and we will build on his legacy in the years to come.

“During his presidency, BSI Congress grew considerably, both in terms of quantity and quality, and last year was no exception. In December 2022, over 1,700 immunologists came together in Liverpool to share and discuss cutting-edge science. It was wonderful to be there to engage with numerous members and see new connections begin, as well as fruitful collaborations continue to develop. As we move forward, we will aim to make BSI Congress even better and ensure it provides opportunities for all.

“Another notable transformation in the last few years has been the increase in team science in immunology. The substantial efforts in this area especially during COVID-19 have not only benefited the pandemic response with the creation of effective vaccines and therapeutics in record time, but also provided us with innovative ways of working. As I witnessed through working closely with the BSI staff team on the delivery of the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, the Society has been playing an important role supporting team science. We have strengthened collaborations between immunologists with a broad range of expertise, for example with the BSI COVID-19 Taskforce, but have also reached beyond COVID-19 to facilitate new research infrastructures in other areas. It is crucial that we leverage this and build strong partnerships between academia, industry, NHS and charities.

“I have a passion for supporting career progression across the full range of immunology. Following a 50% increase in the Society’s membership over the past four years, the BSI now represents over 4,300 members acting as a powerful focal hub for our community and therefore, has an important responsibility in easing challenges and identifying opportunities to attract, retain and support those working in immunology. This is why a main focus of my presidency will be to catalyse this work and, in particular, develop initiatives to support those earlier in their careers.

Over the next four years, I will build on the success of the BSI and ensure we continue going from strength to strength. I am very much looking forward to working alongside the BSI Trustees, committees, our fantastic membership and BSI staff team to further advance our mission.

"As well as supporting career progression and the establishment of collaborative efforts in our field and with other disciplines, I am also committed to securing the financial future of the BSI. This is why we are working hard to identify and secure new sources of income which will ensure our financial stability. We have already generated new income streams that are enabling us to preserve and boost our support for current and future generations of immunologists, and I anticipate this will bloom if we cultivate it carefully.

“It is a privilege to be leading the BSI in the years to come, and I am looking forward to working with all of you to maintain the BSI as a sector-leading organisation, working with and for our members.”

Tracy Hussell
President, British Society for Immunology