Back to the future: a brief history of the BSMT and a conference preview

The British Society for Microbial Technology has adapted to changing circumstances throughout its 37-year existence. Evolving from its origins in multipoint technology, it now organises annual microbiology conferences covering a wide range of topics.

In the following article, Jim Lindsay and Michael Croughan reflect on the society’s origins and early development, while David Westrip previews this year’s conference.

The BSMT began life as the British Society for Multipoint Technology. In April 1985 John Oliver the late founder and managing director of Mast invited eight biomedical scientists and clinical microbiologists to a meeting in Liverpool. The purpose was to create a credible forum for the exchange of information on multipoint technology methods and applications, most notably in breakpoint antibiotic susceptibility testing and bacterial identification. The eight attendees formed the basis of the original committee.

                Multipoint technology is a relatively simple technique that offers benefits of cost-effective testing of large numbers of isolates and also lends itself to automation. In the early 1980s hospitals were being centralised and laboratories were getting bigger, having to process increasing numbers of specimens on a daily basis. At that time, compared to the situation in disciplines such as clinical chemistry, automation in microbiology was limited or non-existent. The conditions were right for many laboratories to look at introducing multipoint technology.

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