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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Reaching 40 is traditionally a turning point in one’s life; you have gained enough experience to make informed choices yet have sufficient energy to relish new challenges. Although we began ESMO’s 40th anniversary celebrations at our congress in Madrid last September, it is in July this year that the Society will actually turn 40. As we prepare for this milestone, it is important that we take a look back, as well as looking forward.

A member-based organisation is nothing without the determination and foresight of its founders, the commitment and drive of those who follow in their footsteps and the support and belief of its members past, present and future. ESMO is no exception. Without the dedication of all those who have served ESMO we would not have developed into a leading Society of more than 10,000 members which has achieved so much during its first 40 years – and neither would we be so well positioned for the challenges that lie ahead.

The immense collective legacy

A number of our past Presidents have shared the aims and objectives they set when they were leading the Society. Only by listening to them and acknowledging their individual contributions is it possible to fully appreciate their immense collective legacy and the extent to which they have contributed to the Society’s over-arching mission.

'Past Presidents looking to the future'

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Past Presidents sharing their aims and objectives



It is inspiring that the key themes highlighted by the past Presidents, including the need for greater integration across disciplines and geographies, accessibility of cancer care and the importance of nurturing young oncologists, are all areas where we have made real progress.
Our 2017 congress in Europe, for example, will be a partnership meeting with the EACR and we will be hosting our first Asia congress in Singapore at the end of this year. In addition, we will be publishing the results of the ESMO survey on antineoplastic medicine availability and accessibility across Europe, while for young oncologists we have introduced the Career Development Taskforce.

These are all significant developments, but we should not allow ourselves any sense of complacency. It is essential that we continue to make progress across all these important areas, which are just as relevant today as they have always been.

The future: compelling projects, committed people

At this point we should turn our attention to the future and the importance of ESMO remaining a strong and confident Society, with compelling projects and committed people prepared to dedicate themselves to achieving our mission.

With this in mind, it is with great confidence and optimism that I am starting to look ahead to the Society’s continued development under the leadership of my friend and colleague Fortunato Ciardiello, who will become ESMO President in 2016. I can clearly see that ESMO will maintain its strength of purpose and retain its conviction during his Presidency.

Looking further ahead still, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that the two candidates nominated for the ESMO Presidency of 2018-2019 are Josep Tabernero and Christoph Zielinski. Loyal servants of ESMO for a number of years, both Josep and Christoph would be worthy Presidents who would guide the Society in the same direction it has taken throughout its first 40 years.

You can see this for yourself by reading their submissions, in which they explain how they would maintain ESMO’s member-focus and continue building on the close collaborations and partnerships which are so important in today’s rapidly changing environment, while also reinforcing ESMO’s role within the oncology community.

Voting will take place online from 1 to 15 June and you will receive instructions on how to do so in the coming weeks. Please keep an eye out for these important communications.

We have made tremendous progress over the past 40 years. However, the evolution, development and growth of ESMO is far from complete. The current Executive Board still has much to achieve over the next six months, but when the time comes for Fortunato Ciardiello to become President – and when he subsequently passes the mantle to either Christoph Zielinski or Josep Tabernero – one thing is certain. Our Society has a very bright future indeed.


Rolf A. Stahel
ESMO President
on behalf of the ESMO Executive Board