The roots of the International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids (ICBL) can be traced back to 1953 when 88 leading scientists were invited by Professor Romain Ruyssen of the University of Ghent to attend a meeting in the Royal Flemish Academy in Brussels and to discuss recent developments in the chemistry, biochemistry and nutrition of lipids. The three topics addressed were (1) general properties of lipids, (2) absorption of lipids and (3) biological synthesis of lipids. This was probably the first international meeting on lipid biology and chemistry and its success became evident from the subsequent series of high quality annual meetings in venues throughout Europe, and occasionally in non-European countries like Israel (1967), Japan (1988) and the USA (1995).

In 2003 ICBL celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a memorable conference in Oxford, UK. Since in the early period this conference was not held every year, it was only in 2009 that the 50th ICBL took place in Regensburg, Germany. Over the decades, ICBL has been and continues to be an international forum for the presentation and discussion of fundamental research in all aspects of lipidology and related applications. ICBL attracts leading scientists in the field to the conferences, while encouraging young investigators to present their work in lectures and posters. Presentations at the meetings have always been of highest standard, very often given by “movers and shakers” in the field including Founding Fathers of ICBL like Sune Borgstrom, Christian de Duve and Konrad Bloch who went on to become Nobel Laureates.

ICBL is renowned for its scientific excellence, but also for its friendly and unique ambience where young lipid scientists can earn their “wings” and fly with the best. The number of participants is usually 200-250 which allows fruitful interaction and discussion. Students are encouraged to participate through a reduced registration fee. Young researchers are eligible to participate in a Poster Award Competition where the 3 or 4 best presentations are selected on basis of scientific and presentational merit. Also the best Short Talk given by a young researcher is given an award.

The organization of ICBL is non-profit making. The responsibility for maintaining continuity over the years is vested in a Steering Committee, with a President, a Vice president, a Secretary, a Public Relations Officer (each elected for terms of 3 years), the Chairpersons of Local Organizing Committees of the previous four conferences together with a group of Advisory and Corresponding Members who are also appointed to serve 3 year terms. None of the Office Bearers receives any remuneration for their work on behalf of the organization. The Secretariat produces an annual Newsletter to which lipidologists are free to contribute and maintains names and addresses of people who attended past conferences. The list of members of the ICBL Steering Committee can be found in another section of the web site.

ICBL has changed its name in the year 2001 from “International Conference on the Biochemistry of Lipids” to “International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids” reflecting a modern image and approach to the cutting edge of lipid research in the future. The mission of ICBL, however, will remain the same – to
provide a friendly and intellectually stimulating forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest discoveries and ideas relating to all aspects of lipid chemistry and biology. The “Spirit of ICBL” which describes a well balanced combination of scientific excellence with enjoyable encounters of young and established researchers has led to fruitful collaborations and long lasting friendships. This Spirit will also be our guideline for hopefully many more ICBLs in the future.