by Prof. L. Fraser
The first business meeting of the Special Interest Group in Andrology, attended by 11 hardy individuals, was held at 0730 (!) on Tuesday, 7 July 1992, during the ESHRE annual meeting in The Hague. We identified a number of aims for the Group, including (1) promoting a general improvement in andrology laboratory standards throughout Europe, (2) organizing focused meetings/workshops to evaluate new analytical approaches that might be used in andrology laboratories, and (3) improving communication among societies and groups with interests relevant to andrology. In subsequent years we have not only accomplished those aims, but have made a number of important new initiatives.
Our first activity was the establishment of training courses in basic semen analysis. We liaised with the British Andrology Society (BAS) and held our first (joint) course in April, 1994 in Sheffield; subsequent courses were run solely by ESHRE members. An Education Subcommittee produced a syllabus that now forms the basis for all our ESHRE Basic Semen Analysis courses. To date, about 30 courses have been held throughout Europe and also in South Africa. Just as ESHRE has many members from countries outside Europe, the Andrology Special Interest Group has activities outside Europe. There are plans for courses based on the ESHRE syllabus to run in Canada and possibly also in the US, in conjunction with the American Society for Andrology.
From 1995, we have held Pre-congress courses. The first was a Workshop on Advanced Diagnostic Andrology Techniques, the proceedings of which were published in Human Reproduction. Subsequent courses have covered a wide range of subjects, some oriented towards research topics and others towards more clinical subjects. We have also run several Campus Workshops. The first (April, 1997, in Pisa) was on Computer Assisted Sperm Analysis (CASA); guidelines for the correct use of CASA, based on presentations and discussions during the Workshop, were then published in Human Reproduction. We later co-organized another Campus Workshop, this one on Sperm Recovery Techniques. Our most recent initiative has been to address the question of quality control (QC) in andrology laboratories throughout Europe. Our QC Subcommittee drew up a questionnaire to allow us to make an inventory of existing semen analysis external QC (EQC) programmes throughout Europe. Considerable variation exists, with some countries having national programmes and others, none. We hope to be able to act as a unifying force, to promote standardized QC guidelines throughout Europe.
I am very proud to have been the first Coordinator of the Andrology Special Interest Group. Thanks to the hard work of committed members, we have come a long way since that first meeting in 1992. Herman Tournaye, the current Coordinator, is leading the SIG into even more productive activities in the new century.
Lynn Fraser December 2001