ASMB History

The American Society for Matrix Biology was incorporated and launched in 2001, largely by the efforts and vision of Paul Bornstein, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington. Before that, ECM researchers in North America had no unified society, other than the several regional groups, such as the East Coast, Midwest, and Pacific Connective Tissue Societies, spread around the country. Although these individual societies were and remain quite active and involved, they represented constituencies within specific regions and had no mechanism for interactions among societies. In contrast, the many, country-specific connective tissue societies in Europe gather every other year at the Federation of European Connective Tissue Societies (FECTS) meeting. The structure and great success of the FECTS meetings was a big inspiration leading to the conception and formation of the ASMB.

In 1999, at the Collagen Gordon Research Conference, Paul discussed forming a North American ECM-focused society with Francesco (Checco) Ramirez, then at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and now at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Zakir Bengali, then at the Center for Scientific Review at the NIH and now the Vice President of Research for the Shriner’s Hospitals of Children. The plans for the Society were made firm in October 2000 at International Conference on the Biology and Pathology of the Extracellular Matrix in St. Louis and organized by Bob Mecham, Bill Parks, and Linda Sandell. At the 2008 ASMB meeting in San Diego, Paul Bornstein was recognized and honored with a one-time Founder Award.

The society was incorporated by Paul in the state of Washington, and the first election for officers and council members was held in early 2001. Bob Mecham was elected the first president, beginning his term (then one-year) in July 2001. Paul Bornstein was elected as Vice-president, and Bill Parks as Secretary/Treasurer, a position he held until he was elected Vice-president in 2007. The first council members were Renato Iozzo, Vince Hascall, Walt Horton, Hynda Kleinman, Arthur Lander, Charlie Little, Deane Mosher, Joanne Murphy-Ullrich, Darwin Prockop, Jim Quigley, Lynn Sakai, Josh Sanes, Barbara Smith, Zena Werb, and Priscilla Ciccariello (representing related health organizations).

Soon after the society officially began in July 2001, the newly formed ASMB council changed the fiscal year to the calendar year, and Bob’s term was extended 6 months to Dec. 2002. Paul assumed leadership in January 2003. Paul and Checco Ramirez, who followed him as President, each served 1-year terms.

During Checco’s reign, the council decided that a 2-year presidential term made more sense. After all, the main function of the ASMB is its biennial meeting, and planning and organizing the meeting had spanned two presidencies. Linda Sandell was ASMB’s first 2-year President, followed by Renato Iozzo and then Bill Parks, the society’s current president. The Society has maintained a rich history of leadership and member development that is highlighted each year at the Biennial Meeting.  We encourage you to join ASMB at the next biennial event and get to know the officers, members, and Matrix Biology community!