Bone and Tooth Society,
50th Anniversary Meeting, 10 July 2000, Churchill College,
Cambridge [JPG image]
A little history [PDF]
BaTS minutes 1950-55
[PDF 6.5 MB]
BaTS minutes 1955-61
[PDF 7.1 MB]
BaTS minutes 1961-64
[PDF 7.4 MB]
BaTS minutes 1964-66
[PDF 5.8 MB]
Edited transcript of an after-dinner address given at the
50th Anniversary Meeting of the Bone and Tooth Society,
10 July 2000, Churchill College Cambridge
by Dr Maureen Owen (Oxford)
I have been asked to tell you something of the early history
of the Bone and Tooth Society, and not to
go on too long, so I will do my best to comply on both accounts.
50 years ago, a small group of scientists and clinicians
at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Great Portland
Street, London, used to meet from time to time to discuss
a common interest in bones and teeth. It was at one of these
meetings, on March 24th 1950, that, over a glass of sherry,
the idea of a Bone and Tooth Society was born. The Professor
of Orthopaedics, RJ Seddon, was in the Chair at that meeting.
Enquiries on the grapevine had suggested that there were about
50 potential members.
So, a committee of six for the new Society, representing
different areas of the subject, was elected there and then:
JJ Pritchard (Anatomy), CH Lack (Clinical Studies), HA Sissons
(Histology), HJ Rogers (Biochemistry), I Kramer (Dental Studies)
and TF Dixon (Secretary).
Some ad hoc rules for the Society were drawn up,
which are still in effect today. Membership was to include
all those who had a genuine interest in fundamental studies
on bones and teeth; members of the Society could be from any
country in the world, and the interests of the Society were
to be directed mainly to those on the laboratory side. It
was decided that meetings should be held every quarter, mainly
in London, though, hopefully, sometimes in the provinces.
The first scientific meeting was held on 6 June 1950 at
the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Great Portland Street.
Even at the outset there appeared to be a slight question
mark over the name chosen for the Society by its founders.
Professor Newcomb was in the Chair. He started by saying:
‘In spite of its name, this Society has sprung from
a serious desire of those Interested in fundamental studies
on bones and teeth to have a meeting ground for discussions
on their problems’.
The prime speaker on this first occasion was Honor Bridget
Fell, whose incomparable work on tissue culture of bone was
done here in Cambridge. There were four other speakers on
various subjects: HA Sissons on ‘Bone Histopathology’,
JJ Pritchard on ‘The Osteoblast’, TF Dixon on
‘Inorganic Salts of Bone’ and HJ Rogers on ‘Organic
Substances of Bone’. The meeting lasted for two hours,
5pm to 7pm, and was followed by the inevitable sherry.
In the 1950s and early ‘60s, many of the meetings
were held in London, the attendance ranging from about 30
to 60. The presentations covered a wide range of subjects,
most of which are still a challenge to our understanding.
To mention only a few: ‘Skeletogenesis Studied in Culture
(1950), Hormones and Bone (1951 and ’52), Enamel and
Tooth Germ Structure (1953), Vitamin C and Bone (1953), Chondrodystrophy,
Genetics and Bone Disease (1954), Rickets (1954), Renal Osteodystrophy
(1959), Calcification (1959), Bone Tumours (1959), Radioactive
Materials and the Skeleton (held at the Royal College of Surgeons
in 1960), Osteoporosis (1962), Thyrocalcitonin (1966) and
because it is a subject in which I was greatly interested,
I remember a talk on ‘The use of tritiated thymidine
in the study of bone’ by Norman Kember, describing the
very first application of these techniques in the study of
By 1960 there were 177 members of the Society and by 1966
this had increased to nearly 300. 1966, I note, was a vintage
year for new members; among those who joined in that year
were Olav Bijvoet, Gideon Rodan and Jack Martin. Meetings
of the Society began to be held outside London from the late
1950s; for example, at The National Institute for Research
on Dairying, in Reading (1957), at the Nuffield Orthopaedic
Centre in Oxford (1960), at the Dunn School, Cambridge (1964),
at Leeds (1965), and in Liverpool (1966).
Also, at this time, a number of distinguished visitors from
overseas addressed the Bone and Tooth Society; usually they
were in London, or passing through for some purpose, because
we could certainly not afford to bring them. One forgets that
in those days there was very little travel across the Atlantic,
and I remember well what a thrill it was, when in April 1961,
the great bone physiologist Franklin C MacLean from Chicago
gave a talk on ‘Parathyroids and Vitamin D in Calcium
Homeostasis’. Other highlights in that era were Paul
Goldhaber from Harvard, a presentation by David A Cameron
from Australia in 1965 on ‘Electron Microscopy of Bone’
(a very new subject then), and by CA Bassett from New York
in 1966, on ‘Electrical Factors Regulating Bone Structure’.
Of course there were many, many distinguished speakers from
this country - and from Europe, we had Lacroix, Gaillard,
Milhaud, Fleisch - and too many others to mention here.
The Society first got a Constitution after 10 years, at
the AGM in 1961, where it was decided that there would be
a Chairman (now known as President). The Chairman, Secretary
and Treasurer were to hold office for 5 years, and four Committee
members would each serve for 3 years. Minor amendments have
been made to this format in later years.
Professor HA Sissons was elected Chairman or President in
1961 and held this post until 1966. Dame Janet Vaughan was
President from 1966 until 1971, and since then, we have continued
with a long line of distinguished Presidents, Secretaries,
Treasurers and Committee members who have given great service
to the society. I wish I could acknowledge all of them by
name but there are too many; you wouldn’t want me to
read out such a long list, I think.
There were two matters much discussed at Committee meetings
in the 1960s. The first was a desire to have closer contact
with European colleagues, many of whom attended our meetings.
Thus, the possibility of having a European Bone and Tooth
Symposium was raised, at the Bone and Tooth Society Committee
Meeting in March 1962, and the outcome of this was The first
European Bone and Tooth Symposium, organised by, and held
under the auspices of our Society (ie BATS), in Oxford in
April 1963. It was extremely successful and led to the suggestion
that regular meetings be held in other European cities; these
meetings became the series known as the European Symposia
on Calcified Tissues, the 27th of which took place in Tampere,
Finland earlier this year.
The second matter, much talked about at Committee meetings,
and by other members of the Society was that of the possibility
of establishing a journal for publication of relevant papers
from workers in the field. So, in January 1966, a ‘Publications
Meeting’ comprising eleven members of the Bone and Tooth
Society took place to discuss this matter. They were Blackwood,
Nordin, Pautard, Sissons and Vaughan (who was in the chair)
from the UK, Bassett and Irving from the USA, and Fleisch,
Milhaud, Gaillard and Richelle from Switzerland, France, Netherlands
and Belgium, respectively.
Preliminary enquiries amongst members of the Bone and Tooth
Society and European and American colleagues suggested that
there was a considerable amount of support for establishment
of a Journal for the field. After some discussion, and I quote:
‘The meeting was then informed by Dr Nordin and Dr Pautard
of a proposed Journal, Calcified Tissue Research, to be published,
on an international basis by Springer-Verlag, and that publication
of the first issue would be in the following January, 1967.
Official support, either from any societies or particular
groups was not sought by the proponents of the new journal;
nor did the other members of the ‘Publications Meeting’
who were present think it appropriate that such support should
be offered’. When the new journal appeared in 1967,
many members of the Bone and Tooth Society were disappointed
(and some I knew were even rather livid) that the journal
had not been sponsored by the Society. In 1979, Calcified
Tissue Research was renamed Calcified Tissue International
, and from January 1999, it has acquired the additional title
of ‘The Official Journal of the European Calcified Tissue
Society’, which seems to me a somewhat satisfactory
ending to this little saga, since the Bone and Tooth Society
had been instrumental in establishing the European Calcified
Tissue Society, 30 years previously.
It has been a great privilege to belong to Bone and Tooth
over all these years. I salute the scientists who first had
the brilliant idea of forming the Society. Thank you.