#FEMSmicroBlog: 50 Years Of FEMS: A Vision For The Century


We are exactly a half year away from our birthday! On 22 November 2024, the Federation of European Microbiological Societies turns 50. Being around for half a century is no mean feat, and it is down to the enthusiasm and dedication of all the microbiologists, Member Societies, volunteers, authors, editors, readers, staff, Board Members, and more that have made FEMS the organization it is today. Antonio Ventosa, FEMS President, and Elise Kuurstra, FEMS Executive Director, outline their vision for the next 50 years for FEMS. #TheCulturePlate


Time To Celebrate!

Thank you to everyone in our community for helping FEMS to get this far. We are very proud to say that we are now formed of 55 Member Societies from more than 40 countries representing over 30,000 microbiologists.

Apart from it being a cause for a celebration or two (and a celebratory logo!), the anniversary provides us with an opportunity to look back at where FEMS has come from, and reflect on where we are now – and, of course, consider where we would like to go next.

FEMS was formed at the first ever meeting of the FEMS Council, on 22 November 1974, to provide a way of linking microbiologists across Europe, and to strengthen and uplift the science and the scientists engaged in this incredibly diverse discipline.


A Moment Of Change

Over the years, FEMS has engaged in an ever-evolving range of activities: publishing journals, convening meetings, creating a European Academy of Microbiology, awarding grants, offering summer schools and running International Microorganism Day, to name just a few.

But today’s environment is very different than the one into which FEMS was born: there is an increased urgency to bring microbiologists together. Sharing microbiological knowledge and working collaboratively in addressing the global challenges is our most important task: environmental challenges, sustainable food production, ensuring we overcome health challenges (human, animal, and plant) and their intersections can all be ameliorated (or worsened) by microbes.

We are still, at heart, a group of scientists working to serve other scientists, the science we care about, and maximise its impact in the world. We are an increasingly professional organisation that, in the context of less available volunteer time, are providing an infrastructure to actively connect scientists. We see FEMS’s most important role as contributing to harnessing the power and impact of microbiologists and microbiology across Europe, to enable microbial knowledge to change the world for the better. As the world changes around us, and as we look to the future, the question we are asking ourselves is how we, as an organization, can continue to ensure we are making a difference.

Our Member Societies – and their members – are also seeing profound changes to their operating environment. Changes in broader society, combined with the changing demands of academic and research roles, has found our member societies with new challenges in an environment of tightening budgets across the board, and less available volunteer time. Meanwhile, revenues from publishing, which directly funds some societies (and others indirectly) are on the decline: and for some (like FEMS) choosing to flip most or all of their journals to Open Access in order to share the work they publish more widely for the greater good, find that their revenues are more uncertain and unpredictable.


A Further 50 Years For FEMS

Here at FEMS, we are taking the opportunity of our Anniversary Year to challenge ourselves on what it is we can and should be doing within this context in order to really make a difference for the next 50 years. How can we support our society members – and the wider microbiology community – to accelerate our collective ability to positively impact the world?

Although we have some exciting ideas and a clear sense of direction, we don’t fully know all the answers yet, but we have been engaging with our community (and will continue to do so) as we put together our plans for our next few years.

The world is changing fast around us, and here at FEMS we want to make sure that an organisation that represents and connects microbiologists across Europe is delivering on its potential both for now and in the future.

Here’s to the next 50 years!

To make sure you are a part of the next 50 years of FEMS, get connected:


About the authors of this blog:

Antonio Ventosa, FEMS President, has a glowing career in learned societies and microbiology research. He is Professor of Microbiology at the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sevilla (Spain). He investigates extremophilic microorganisms, mainly halophilic archaea and bacteria, their biodiversity, taxonomy, comparative genomics and metagenomics as well as biotechnological applications.

Elise Kuurstra, FEMS Executive Director, leads the international team of professionals at the FEMS Office in Delft (The Netherlands) and works together with both staff and volunteers to translate strategy into results. Using her extensive experience in senior leadership of non-profit organizations, Elise will also steer our organization to develop and execute a new strategic plan as we build on our vision, growth and direction for the years ahead.

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#TheCulturePlate posts on the #FEMSmicroBlog presents personal accounts, views, opinions, and perspectives from our community.

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