As a clinical and research field, Andrology developed during the second half of the 20th century. In parallel, national societies for Andrology began to be founded and soon the need for international collaboration became apparent. In 1970 the Comite Internacional de Andrologia (CIDA) was founded as a study group under the aegis of A. Puigvert (Spain) and R. Mancini (Argentina), and was developed by Rune Eliasson (Sweden) and JosÃ© Maria Pomerol (Spain).
This club of pioneers in Andrology organized the 1st International Congress of Andrology (ICA) in Barcelona in 1977. By the time of the 2nd ICA 1981 in Tel Aviv, it was felt that a more formal international collaboration among the national societies would be beneficial to all, and ISA was founded as a federation of andrological societies, but also encompassing individual members, especially from countries without an ISA member society. At the start, there were four national societies, i.e. those from Brazil, Israel, Japan and the USA.
I was surprised, but at the same time, I was pleased to be asked to become the first ISA president as I had just decided to dedicate my professional life to Andrology, working in a centre for reproductive medicine and supported by a Clinical Research Unit of the Max-Planck Society. The four years of my presidency were very busy: drafting of statutes and bylaws, registering ISA as a tax-exempt organization, convincing national andrological societies to join ISA for their own benefit and preparing the 3rd ICA. Although the road to unity had a few bumpy stretches, everyone concerned contributed his part. With the help of Philip Troen (USA) as secretary and Julian Frick (Austria) as treasurer, two experienced leaders in their fields, the Executive Council was bound to succeed. By the time of the 3rd ICA in 1985, ISA comprised 17 national societies.
The 3rd ICA itself, under the chairmanship of Robert Newton (USA) was held at the new Westin Hotel in Boston and was a splendid scientific event. For some andrologists, the Westin Hotel appeared to be too expensive and for the ensuing Steering Committee Meeting of the WHO Task Force for the Regulation of Male Fertility we moved to a cheaper place across the road.
There remained the task to establish a new Executive Council. In order to guarantee continuity and in agreement with the statutes Philip Troen (USA) was re-elected as secretary, David De Kretser (Australia) [Governor of Victoria, Australia, since 2006] became president and Hiroyuki Oshima (Japan) treasurer.
We were happy to receive four bids for the 4th ICA, i.e. from India, Italy, Japan and Sweden. The race concentrated on Sweden and Italy when Luciano Martini (Italy), an eminent pharmacologist and shrewd politician, asked the electorate: 'Have you ever had dinner in Stockholm?' and it was instantaneously clear that the 4th ICA in 1989 would be held in Florence. Altogether, these were exiting years in the young field of Andrology and I remember with pleasure those years commemorated by the ISA plaque.
Prof. Dr. med. Eberhard (Ebo) Nieschlag, FRCP (London)
President International Society of Andrology