During the last half-century, remarkable progress has occurred in many branches of the life sciences. Trace element research has definitely shared to the progress of scientific knowledge. Advances in analytical methods, an avalanche of information available over the Internet and creation of international collaborations have greatly increased our understanding of the role of trace elements in humans. Today morbidity and mortality related to trace element deficiencies or toxicities affect more than half of the world's population. Research on both essential and toxic trace elements runs the gamut, from studies of dietary intake, requirements and standards to optimal homeostasis and threshold values to genetic, molecular and biochemical investigations of mechanisms of action. The idea to setting up the institute was based on a recommendation made in 1973 by WHO that “The United Nations and its specialized agencies should encourage and support the creation of international centers for the study of trace elements in humans”. Following an international meeting on “Environmental Aspects of Trace Elements “in Paris organized under the auspices of UNESCO in 1987 and with the support of the General Director of UNESCO, Dr Federico Mayor, a trace element institute for UNESCO was created and inaugurated in Lyon in 1996. The purpose of TEU is to promote and to coordinate international actions in all areas related to trace elements and toxic metals, in multi-disciplinary collaborative research in various parts of the world, especially in developing countries, in accordance with UNESCO recommendations. The main objective of TEU is to share knowledge in this field through an international network of satellite centers covered all continents.
The goal of the 8th International Symposium FESTEM intitled “Recent Advances in Trace Elements. From the Bench to the Bedside” is, in particular, to improve (i) the better understanding of the role of trace elements in health and disease and (ii) the knowledge on how toxic metals affect the connections between health and environment. This conference will provide an ideal opportunity to scientists working in such field need to increase, to reinforce and to speed up the regional, national and international spread of such knowledge, the partnership relies on the creation and exploitation of joint synergies in four fields of action: training, information, expert assessment and scientific monitoring.
TEU, as a non-governmental organization, provides an additional way for UNESCO to pursue its humanitarian and scientific role to counteract war and poverty through culture and science, sharing knowledge between developing and industrialized countries.
So, as President of Trace Element-Institute for UNESCO, it is a great pleasure for me to patronize the 8th International Symposium FESTEM in Madrid and I wish to FESTEM a fruitful conference.
Muriel BOST PharmD, PhD
President of Trace Element - Institute for UNESCO