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IASP’s 50th Anniversary #IASP50


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Celebrating 50 Years of Working Together for Pain Relief Throughout the World

In 2024, IASP will celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Throughout 2023 and 2024, culminating at the 20th World Congress on Pain, 5 – 9 August in Amsterdam, Netherlands, IASP will celebrate this milestone with 50th Anniversary initiatives that reflect on the advances and contributions made by IASP and our members over the last 50 years.

Join us in celebrating IASP’s half-century of achievement, and looking forward to many more years of working together for pain relief throughout the world. #IASP50

IASP History & Timeline

The Beginning

“Where on Earth is Issaquah, Washington?” was the question of several international delegates who flew into Seattle-Tacoma Airport in late May of 1973. Providence Heights Conference Center in Issaquah, a town about 20 miles east of Seattle, was the location chosen for a unique week-long conference. The meeting was the International Symposium on Pain held on 21-26 May 1973. It was the brainchild of Professor John Bonica, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of the groundbreaking book, The Management of Pain.

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It was also just eight years after the publication of the gate control theory of pain by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall, and much more attention was being paid to both chronic and acute pain than ever before.

It was obvious at the end of the meeting that fertile seeds had been sown and that there was goodwill. On the last day, there was unanimous approval for the proposals to start a journal dedicated to the field of pain and to start an international association to help support the journal and advance the study of pain and its treatment. And thus, the International Association for the Study of Pain was born.

Journey Through IASP History by Decade:

1973 - 1979

1973

International Symposium on Pain - Issaquah


Providence Heights Conference Center in Issaquah, a town about 20 miles east of Seattle, WA, USA, was the location chosen for a unique week-long meeting on pain. Although there had been a small number of symposia on pain in the preceding years, none had brought together clinicians and basic scientists. On the last day there was unanimous approval to start a journal dedicated to the field of pain and to start an international association to help support the journal and advance the study of pain and its treatment.

1973

1974

IASP is Incorporated


Shortly after the Issaquah meeting, a Council Pro Tem was established for the purpose of identifying a Board of Directors for the Articles of Incorporation. Members were John J. Bonica, MD; B. Raymond Fink, MD; John D. Loeser, MD; Harry D. Patton, PhD; Arthur A. Ward, Jr., MD; and Patrick D. Wall, DM. All were from the University of Washington except Dr. Wall. IASP was formally incorporated in Washington, DC, on 9 May 1974.  

1974

1975

First Issue of PAIN


In 1973, before the Issaquah meeting, William Noordenbos, working in conjunction with John J. Bonica and Patrick D. Wall, made initial contact with a publisher who was enthusiastic about a journal dedicated to pain. The journal was to be published quarterly with 100 pages per issue, and the first issue was scheduled for March 1975. Patrick D. Wall was named Editor-in-Chief and oversaw original articles; John Bonica oversaw review articles; Ainsley Iggo oversaw abstracts; and William Noordenbos oversaw book reviews and bibliography.

1975

1975

1st World Congress on Pain - Florence


The 1975 World Congress was the first time the members of IASP would gather as one group. There were 750 delegates, and 250 papers were presented as plenaries or slide presentations. Not big by today’s standards, but it was the largest meeting up to that time dedicated solely to the topic of pain.

1975

1975

Formation of Chapters


By 1975, IASP began to see the formation of chapters, as provided for in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and a number were approved at the 1st World Congress in Florence: Argentina, Eastern Canada, France, German Speaking, The Netherlands, Northeastern USA, and Western USA. Several chapters were in formation: Italy, Japan, Scandinavia, and Southern USA. In the United Kingdom, the Intractable Pain Society was already established before the formation of IASP and became the British and Irish Pain Society (later evolving into today’s British Pain Society and Irish Pain Society).

1975

1975

First IASP Council

Nominations for officers and councilors had been solicited from the membership by mail, and ballots were circulated at the First General Assembly, collected and counted, and the results announced at the Second General Assembly.

President: Denise Albe-Fessard, DSc, Physiology, France

President-Elect: John J. Bonica, MD, Anesthesiology, USA

Vice Presidents:

  • Yojiro Kawamura, MD, DDS, Dentistry, Physiology, Japan
  • Ronald Melzack, PhD, Psychology, Canada
  • Fausto Molina, MD, Anesthesiology, Argentina
  • William Noordenbos, MD, PhD, Neurosurgery, The Netherlands
  • Paolo Procacci, MD, Internal Medicine, Italy
  • Joseph O.A. Sodipo, FFARCS, Anesthesiology, Nigeria
  • Sir Sydney Sunderland, MD, DSc, Neurology, Australia

Secretary: B. Raymond Fink, Anesthesiology, MD, USA

Treasurer: Louisa E. Jones, BS, USA

Council:

  • Aaron Y. Beller, MD, Neurosurgery, Israel
  • Jean-Marie Besson, DSc, Pharmacology, France
  • Ronald Dubner, DDS, Neuroscience, USA
  • Dieter Gross, MD, Neurology, Germany
  • Ainsley Iggo, PhD, DSc, Physiology, United Kingdom
  • Jean Lassner, MD, Anesthesiology, France
  • John C. Liebeskind, PhD, Psychology, USA
  • Ulf Lindblom, MD, Neurology, Sweden
  • John D. Loeser, MD, Neurosurgery, USA
  • William R. Mehler, PhD, Neuroscience, USA
  • Carlo A. Pagni, MD, Neurosurgery, Italy
  • Richard A. Sternbach, PhD, Psychology, USA
  • Ladislav Vyklicky, MD, DSc, Physiology, Czechoslovaki
  • Hideo Yamamura, MD, Anesthesiology, Japan
1975

1976

First Official IASP Logo 


IASP initially adopted the outlined globe logo familiar to many members but intended it to be temporary. Via the IASP Newsletter, members were invited to submit logo ideas. Several designs were submitted, but the committee ultimately rejected them as being too specific to a culture, country, or region for an international society. Submissions included ideas such as Androcles and the Lion, a lotus blossom, and Laocoön with his sons. So, IASP continued with the familiar globe. The original logo was replaced in 2009 with a stylized globe.

1976

1978

2nd World Congress on Pain in Montreal


The second World Congress on Pain was held in Montreal, Canada. Over 1000 delegates attended and poster sessions were included for the first time. In 1977, poster sessions were largely a North American phenomenon; Europeans and others being more accustomed to short slide presentations.

1978

1978

First Definition of Pain Published in PAIN


The Subcommittee on Taxonomy, chaired by Harold Merskey, completed a list of definitions of certain pain-related terms which would be published in PAIN (1979;6:249–52) as “Pain Terms: A List with Definitions and Notes on Usage,” subtitled “The first step towards codifying the terminology of the study and treatment of pain.” The Committee was also beginning to tackle the classification of pain syndromes, noting a difficult job but not an impossible one. The development and implementation of a universally accepted taxonomy on pain was considered one of the most urgent and most important objectives of IASP, bearing in mind that adoption of a classification does not mean that it is “cast in concrete” but that it can be modified as new information becomes available.

1978

1980 - 1989

1970s >  /   1990s >   2000s >   2010s >   2020s >

The history of IASP will be released quarterly throughout 2023 and 2024 for our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Check back in April 2023 for IASP's history from 1980 - 1989.

1990 - 1999

The history of IASP will be released quarterly throughout 2023 and 2024 for our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Check back in July 2023 for IASP's history from 1990 - 1999.

2000 - 2009

1970s >   1980s >   1990s >   /   2010s >   2020s>

The history of IASP will be released quarterly throughout 2023 and 2024 for our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Check back in October 2023 for IASP's history from 2000 - 2009.

2010 - 2019

1970s >   1980s >   1990s >   2000s >   /   2020s>

The history of IASP will be released quarterly throughout 2023 and 2024 for our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Check back in January 2024 for IASP's history from 2010 - 2019.

2020 - NOW

The history of IASP will be released quarterly throughout 2023 and 2024 for our 50th Anniversary celebration.

Check back in March 2024 for IASP's history from 2020 - Now.

Resources

Download historical documents from the IASP archives and special 50th Anniversary resources.

First Steps: The Early Years of IASP 1973-1984 is a set of memoirs written by former IASP Executive Officer Louisa E. Jones. It was published and distributed in conjunction with the 13th World Congress on Pain in Montréal, Canada.

Celebrating 25 Years: International Association for the Study of Pain 1973 - 1998 was published celebrating IASPs 25th anniversary in 1998. It is a snapshot of IASPs growth and milestone achievements in the 20th century. 

This second edition of our taxonomy book, edited by Harold Merskey and Nikolai Bogduk as part of the IASP Task Force on Taxonomy, was originally published in 1994 and twice updated. Classification of Chronic Pain includes detailed pain definitions, descriptions of pain syndromes, and codes for chronic pain diagnosis. The IASP Taxonomy, developed in 2012, updates the pain terminology presented in the book.

Though many of the terms were established in literature, the following pain terminology was first published in 1979. The terms and definitions have been carefully reviewed and their utility assessed in referenced to the new knowledge about both clinical and basic science aspects of pain.

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