IASP eNewsletter - Jun 2014

President's Message

Fernando Cervero"Some people believe football (soccer) is a matter of life and death,” said Bill Shankly, the legendary coach of Liverpool Football Club, adding, "I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

We are currently immersed in the FIFA World Cup, the most popular and revered sport event in the world that for millions of people, including your president, offers a perfect mixture of pleasure, anguish, happiness, and despair. These football games trigger our passion and drive our emotion. Football is indeed a much, much more important matter than a simple question of life and death.

We can, and should, extract important lessons from what is going on in the football fields of beautiful Brazil––lessons we can apply to our personal and professional lives and to the running of our great association. After all, IASP members strive to be the best in pain research and management and every two years meet in exciting world congresses. We are a sort of “World Cup of the Science and Treatment of Pain.” 

The most important lesson of all, as we watch these World Cup football games, is to recognize the overwhelming power of passion, dedication, and commitment. It is often not the richest or the favorite or the most technical team that wins a match but the squad that is truly a band of people full of passion for what they do and whose minds are obsessively set on seeing the job done. Without these qualities––without a strong heart, a clear head, and a firm hand, without a good plan and a great deal of enthusiasm for what we do––we will never achieve anything. Let this be the greatest lesson of the wonderful event in Brazil. 

Some well-known and highly respected teams have learned the hard way that humility and hard work are essential to maintain a commanding position. IASP has been for 40 years the top professional association in the world dedicated to pain research and therapy, and there is a temptation to think that this is just a matter of fact and that it will be like that forever. Reaching the top spot and, even more important, maintaining this position requires constant revision and update of everything we do. Past successes, however spectacular, do not guarantee future victories. If we want to stay at the top we cannot rest on our laurels. 

Another important lesson we are receiving from Brazil is that just because something worked in the past it does not mean it will continue to do so in the future. Some techniques have produced much success, but when others learn them or develop effective ways to exceed them they no longer are useful. We must revise each and every one of our programs and activities, analyze what is still current and what has been superseded, and above all, generate compelling initiatives that are well adapted to what our members want.

Nothing brings more excitement to the World Cup than an underdog putting up a great show and beating a more powerful team. The lesson we must extract from these amazing events is that we must always receive with open arms members from countries and groups outside our usual contributors so we can go beyond traditional and well-trodden paths. We must find ways to incorporate into IASP’s programs and initiatives the excellent contributions to science and medicine of emerging nations, the dedication and professionalism of their people, and the enthusiasm of younger generations of clinicians and scientists. It would be an arrogant mistake to ignore these individuals and groups. I am pleased to tell you that your Council and Secretariat are working for the association with all these important principles in mind. 

Early this month we had an intense meeting of the IASP Executive Committee in our office in Washington, D.C., followed by a one-and-a-half-day meeting of the steering group that develops and maintains the strategic plan of our association. The strategic plan is the framework over which all our activities and programs are built and the essential blueprint that shows the way forward. We reviewed all of our activities and considered new programs that will address the needs of our members and maintain IASP’s standing as the world’s top professional association in pain research and management. We discussed the participation of younger members in the running of our association as well as the best ways to make sure that all our members from anywhere in the world have easy access to our organization and can participate in its activities.\

Research and education will forever be the two supporting pillars of IASP. A multidisciplinary approach to the study and management of pain is in our DNA and cannot and will not be compromised. We will always be international and open to members from anywhere in the world with the same individual rights and duties. We know very well that these are the essential hallmarks of IASP, but we are also constantly reviewing the best methods to sustain these basic principles and promote our mission. 

I am looking forward to meeting you in our own “World Cup of the Science and Treatment of Pain” in Buenos Aires in October. This is a great opportunity for all of us to meet, network, and exchange information in a great location. We have an excellent program, and judging by the interest that the Congress has triggered around the world, it promises to be an outstanding occasion.

Keep in mind the lessons we can learn from the beautiful game and enjoy the matches. Do not suffer too much. And above all, let’s work together for pain relief throughout the world.

Fernando Cervero
IASP President