In 1997, the Information Technology Applications in Biomedicine (ITAB) initiative was launched by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS). The EMB Society is an internationally renowned organization which consists of 37 societies and some 10.000 members. The initial ITAB meeting in 1997 formed the technical precursor of the current yearly conferences. In 1998, the EMB Society decided to partner with the organization committee of the International Telemedical Information Society (ITIS) conferences in order to combine the two events. Since the meetings alternatively take place in Europe and the United States, next year's 2000 ITAB-ITIS Conference will be held in Washington DC, as stated by co-chair Dr. Swamy Laxminarayan.
This year's ITIS-ITAB'99 Conference, that was held in Amsterdam last April, already formed the third meeting in a successful series. The first aim of EMBS in 1997 was to support the concept of Information Technology (IT) in biomedicine. The partnership with ITIS has somewhat broadened the original perspective. For the year 2000, there are two possibilities that have to be taken into account, according to Dr. Laxminarayan. The organization has to choose whether ITAB-ITIS 2000 will be held separately in the spring or under the umbrella of the EMBS world conference that will take place in the month of October.
If organized in the autumn, ITAB-ITIS will benefit from the global platform as it is provided by the world conference which will be attended by an audience of 6000 to 7000 people. Among the participants will also figure an extensive number of medical experts and physicians. A separate ITAB-ITIS conference in the spring will have the advantage of allowing the organizers to exclusively put the focus on Information Technology and medicine. As a result, it will be possible to create an own voice by means of issuing official white papers and by propagating a specific ITAB-ITIS approach in the conference proceedings.
At the ITIS-ITAB'99 meeting in Amsterdam, it still remained unclear for the conference participants which direction should be taken to guarantee the best possible future for the ITAB-ITIS initiative. In the coming months, ideas will gradually ripen and soon be transformed into a democratic decision that will turn the next ITAB-ITIS 2000 Conference into an event which will find a response among a broad circle of IT and telemedically related institutions, companies, organizations, universities, hospitals, and individuals. In any case, the Virtual Medical Worlds Magazine will keep you posted. On behalf of co-chair Dr. Swamy Laxminarayan, we already wish you a warm welcome to the ITAB-ITIS 2000 event in the United States.