The HTLV European Research Network was conceived at a meeting, in the home of Prof Guy de Thé , with Professors Umberto Bertazzoni, Luigi Chieco-Bianchi, Robin Weiss, Jonathan Weber and Dr Graham Taylor in 1992. HERN was born in 1993 as a European Community funded Concerted Action to facilitate collaboration between researchers in the EU working on all aspects of Human T-lymphotropic Virus infection from molecular virology to clinical trials. The first meeting in London reviewed serological diagnosis and seroepidemiology. The subsequent HERN International Antenatal Study (HERNIAS) established a uniform baseline on HTLV-1/2 seroprevalence in Western Europe.
The appetite for a European HTLV Research platform was not diminished at the conclusion of EU support in 2002 since when HERN has continued to function as an informal, self-funded, network with biennial meetings organised by a local volunteer or committee. The objectives of HERN remain unchanged and meetings are open to all persons working on HTLV and related infections in the EU. The emphasis is on participation and the workshop style of short presentations and generous time for discussion distinguishes HERN from other meetings. The first participation of persons living with HTLV at the Rome meeting is now an important component of HERN which we look to extend. Overall participation has grown from 37 at the last EU funded meeting to more than 8 in Bucharest.
The choice of Romania, the country with the highest HTLV prevalence in Europe for the 2016 meeting, was a deliberate move to facilitate broader participation. The selection of Lebanon for the 25th Anniversary meeting continued this theme whilst acknowledging the contributions of colleagues from Beirut to HERN over many years. This year we move to the Iberian Peninsula where an extensive clinical network has been active across Spain for many years. Once again we anticipate a weekend of stimulating presentations and lively discussion. Thank you Carmen and Vicente.
Graham P Taylor