1.1. The pioneers

The HIStory of the Hellenic Society of Immunology starts in the late 1960s. At that time, a number of Greek medical doctors had returned to Greece from abroad (USA, UK, France and other countries) where they had been trained in Immunology, created a core of scientists with interest in this field.

With the new knowledge they had got, they were well aware of the close relation of Immunology with all medical specialties and had also recognized the necessity of all new doctors, general practitioners and other specialized doctors have an education in Immunology.

In October 1970, the above group (E. Kaklamani, P. Kalpaktsoglou, A. Mantalenaki, I. Economidou, C. Pathouli, M. Pavlatou, N. Renieri, C. Stavropoulos) organized a 7-day seminar: “Days of Immunological Methods”. The seminar, which was held in a different institution each day, included lectures on immunological subjects as well as demonstrations of immunological methods. The unexpected success of the seminar, the enthusiasm of the participated lecturers, the increased number of immunological articles in the literature and the discussions of the Greek immunologists with their colleagues from other countries, made them decide that that it was time to create a society in Greece. Through this society, Greek immunologists could act officially and could also communicate with immunologists from all over the world.

1.2. The establishment

Professor M. Pavlatou, who was the pioneer of the effort, invited 40 distinguished members of the medical community with interest in Immunology and in a meeting at Athens University, she talked to them about the importance of a society of Immunology for the evolution of the field of Immunology in Greece.
These 40 scientists became the creating members of the “HELLENIC SOCIETY OF IMMUNOLOGY” – HSI, the constitution of which was approved by the Court in

1.3. The first period

Professor Pavlatou became the first President of HIS and, with the members of the Board as well as several other members of the Society, started to organize weekly meetings and presentations by Greek and foreign lecturers.
In addition, since 1972, members of HIS (Professor M. Pavlatou, Professor E. Kaklamani) were invited to the Medical School of Athens University and, in 1973, the first Greek book of Immunology (by Professor Pavlatou) was published and helped in the spread of relevant knowledge to the young doctors, mainly to those specializing in Microbiology.
In a short time, HIS left back its infancy and has been effectively organized for several scientific activities.

1.4. Efforts for a research centre

Between 1971 and 1975, the HSI Board was encouraged by foreign Immunologists as well as by the key persons for Immunology of WHO (H. Goodman and G. Torigiani) for the establishment of a Greek National Center of Research and Education in Immunology (NCREI). The idea was this center to be unfolded into a reference center for Immunology in the East Mediterranean area.
The Center was established in 1976 and had included 12 (later 14) Greek Immunological laboratories. Dr M. Papamichael was appointed as the WHO representative, while in 1977 the center was recognized by the Division of non Communicable Diseases of WHO as “part of the WHO research and education program in Immunology”.
NCREI was reimbursed by the Greek Ministry of Health and Welfare and the money was distributed to the participating laboratories for equipment and salaries of the technical staff. In 1979, the HSI Board converted the Center to an Association, in order to facilitate the subidy of budgets. However (for typical/legal reasons), this association was not incorporated in the organization of the Ministry of Health so, in 1985, the General Assembly of HSI decided to abolish it and to create in its place an Education Committee.

1.5. Member of International Societies

In the meanwhile, HSI became member of IUIS (1973) with its representatives participating to International and European Meetings. Some years later the Society became also member of EFIS (early 90s), of the European Federation of Laboratory Medicine (1993) and started also been represented to the Section of Biopathology of UEMS.

1.6. New constitution

HSI continued its function under the rules of the first constitution up to 1996. Then, a new constitution was proposed by the Board and was approved by the General Assembly and then by the Greek Court.
As it is stated in the new Constitution, the aim and the goals of HIS are: To promote the research in Immunology in Greece as well as Internationally, to assure the appropriate application of Immunology in the prevention, the diagnosis and the therapy of diseases as well as to contribute to the scientific and professional advancement of the HSI members.

The HSI’s activities in order to meet with the above goals are:

  1. Encouragement and guidance of young (mainly) scientists for immunological research.
  2. Elaboration, realization and supervision of postgraduate and continuous education programs in Immunology, organization of congresses, educational seminars and other scientific events as well as edition of periodical press, books and informative printed material.
  3. Collaboration with Greek and International medical and professional Societies, Associations and Confederations.
  4. International promotion of the work of Greek Immunologists.
  5. Efforts for improving the function of Immunological laboratories and for encouraging the collaboration between them.
  6. Consulting on subjects relevant to Immunology to State authorities.
  7. Providing information on relevant maters to the Public.
  8. Setting up of committees for specific matters.
  9. Awarding of prizes to HSI members for original research projects and other immunological studies and furnishing of scholarships to young scientists -HIS members- for postgraduate immunological studies.

1.7. Structure of HSI

HIS´s body consists of Ordinary, Honorary and Auxiliary members.
The governing body of HIS is the General Assembly, which decides on every important subject.

It meets once a year and whenever something urgent appears. The executive body is the Board, which consists of seven Officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary General, Secretary, Treasurer and 2 Counselors.
The Board is elected by an elective General Assembly every two years. Members unable to be present at the election Assembly can vote by correspondence. The position of the President cannot be served by the same person for two consecutive periods, while the other members cannot of the Board cannot be elected for more than two consecutive periods.

1.8. Regular activities

The scientific events of HSI are regular (the Panhellenic Congress for Immunology every three years and the annual Seminar in Immunology) and Extra (lectures by invited speakers, organization of seminars and symposia independently or in collaboration with other societies).
HSI’s regular publications include: a) The Society’s Newsletter (every 4 months), b) The abstracts and the proceedings of the Congress and c) The proceedings of the annual seminar.
A list with the major activities of HSI appears in table 1.

Table 1: HSI activities 1971-2000

  • Meetings every month
  • Lectures by Greek and foreign speakers
  • Acceptance of HSI as member of IUIS
  • Representative to the international Symposium
    on HLA and Disease in Paris
  • Seminar: “Clinical application
    of immunodiagnostic methods
  • Two seminars in Athens
  • Congress in Thessaloniki
  • Organization in collaboration with IUIS of the International
    Summer School of Immunology (Autoimmunity)
Since 1977:
  • Participation to the Annual Panhellenic Medical Congres
Since 1981:
  • Annual Seminar
Since 1988:
  • Newsletter (every 3 and then every 4 months)
Since 1989:
  • Panhellenic Congress every 3 years
  • Member of EFIS
  • Member of EFLM
  • Meetings every month
  • Programs for training in Immunological techniques
  • Representation to the Section of Biopathology of UEMS
Since 1995:
  • Scholarships to young scientists
    for research and postgraduate studies
  • Publication of an English-Greek dictionary
    of immunological terms


Recent years:

  • Collaborations with other Greek and International societies
    for the organization of scientific events all over Greece,
    as well as the development of educational programs
    for Immunology
  • Collaboration with Greek authorities for the specialty
    of Immunology and the training for laboratory doctors
  • Development of quality assurance programs and efforts
    for the improvement of the function of Immunology
  • Collaboration with Balkan Societies and representation
    in specific committees (for education, quality assurance,

1.9. Balkan collaboration

In 1996, HIS accepted the invitation by the Yugoslav Society for Immunology for a collaboration between Balkan countries and worked with the other societies into this direction.
Dr M. Varla-Leftherioti became the Greek leader of the effort for the establishment of the Balkan Association of Immunological Societies (BAIS), the constitution of which was approved by the Greek Court in 1998. BAIS has its registered office in Athens while its actual domicile shall be the address of the General Secretary of the Association.
Because of the war in Yugoslavia, the elections for the first BAIS Board have not yet performed. However, the third Balkan Congress of Immunology (the 1
st was performed in Bergrade and the 2nd in Varna) will take place in 2001 in Athens in conjuction with the Panhellenic Congress of Immunology (Presidents Dr C. Papasteriades, Dr M. Varla-Leftherioti).

1.10. Current period

In 1996, the 25th anniversary of HIS was celebrated. During this celebratin, a number of Society members that had actively effectively worked for its objectives were honored.

Some years ago (1993), Professor M. Pavlatou was recognized as the Honorary President of the Society, while other distinguished scientists were recognized as HIS´s Honorary members (Professor G. Merikas – 1987, Professor P. Vasileiadis – 1987, Professor Avrameas – 1991, Professor N. Matsaniotis – 1991, Professor G. Panayi – 1991, Dr. A. Theofilopoulos – 1996).

Currently, HIS counts 400 Members (table 2).

Table 2: Members of the Hellenic Society of Immunology

Immunologists-Biopathologists 132
Allergologists 11
Dermatologists 6
Endocrinologist 1
Gastrenterologists 8
General Practitioners 2
Gynecologists 3
Haematologists 28
Interalists 38
Neurologists 5
Nephrologists 5
Paeditricians 42
Pathologists 38
Pneumonologists 5
Practicing doctors 2
Rheumatologists 18
Surgeons 5
Other medical Specialists 8
Dentists 2
Nurse 1
Biologists 39
Biochemists 16
Chemists 10
Veterinarians 5


TABLE 3: Presidents of HSI

1972-74 Professor M. Pavlatou
1974-76 Professor M. Pavlatou
1976-78 Professor J. Papavassiliou
1978-80 Dr M. Papamichel
1980-82 Professor M. Pavlatou
1982-84 Professor J. Economidou
1984-86 Professor L. Sparos
1986-88 Professor E. Kaklamani
1988-90 Professor M. Pavlatou
1990-92 Professor C. Stavropoulos-Giokas
1992-94 Professor E. Kaklamani
1994-96 Dr M. Varla-Leftherioti
1996-98 Dr Z. Polymenidis
1998-00 Dr C. Papasteriades
2000-02 Professor M. Daniilidis

Throughout these years, HIS has been successfully administrated by capable Presidents (table 3) and Boards, who have effectively worked for the objectives of the Society. The new elected Board (the 14th from HSI’s establishment) also works into the same direction. The organization of the “15th EFIS Congress in 2003″, which has been entrusted to HSI’s not only will give the Greek Immunologists the opportunity and pleasure to host their European colleagues, but it is also expected to make closer the links of the Hellenic Society with the other European Societies for Immunology.