The Society of Heart and Vascular Metabolism (SHVM) was founded in 2001 by a small group of scientists who had met at a conference on the Regulation of Energy Metabolism in Heart and Vasculature that had been organized in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The meeting was organized by Gary Lopaschuk as a satellite meeting of the XVIIth World Congress of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) in Winnipeg, Canada. The success of that meeting and the growing appreciation of the importance of energy metabolism for an optimal functioning of the heart and vasculature prompted them to start a non-profit society with the aim to organize annually a scientific conference devoted entirely to heart and vascular metabolism.

The Foundation of the Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism

The mission of the Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism (SHVM) is to promote scientific research, to disseminate original research findings, to encourage collaborations and to provide a stimulating environment for young investigators and trainees in the field of heart and vascular metabolism. Prior to 2001, no scientific meetings had focused solely on this particular area of research. In June of 2001, Gary Lopaschuk hosted a meeting in Banff, Alberta, Canada that was a satellite meeting to the World Congress of the International Society of Heart Research (ISHR). The theme of this meeting focused on energy metabolism in the heart and vasculature, and brought together many of the world’s experts working in this field. At the conclusion of this meeting, Gary Lopaschuk, Heinrich Taegtmeyer, Lionel Opie, Christine Des Rosiers, and William (Bill) Stanley were enjoying a celebratory libation, when Lionel Opie stated that this had been a great meeting, and that we should “have meetings like this on a regular basis”. Gary quickly agreed, but qualified his agreement by saying “as long as someone else does it, and I do not have to organize anything”, while Bill suggested that we should first meet in the French part of Canada in order to ensure that we could enjoy excellent food and wine and a culturally rich atmosphere - to which Christine immediately begged for assistance from the ‘as yet to be organized’ Society!! In our semi-inebriated state, we unanimously volunteered Bill Stanley to take the lead on formalizing the Society.

Bill returned from the ISHR meeting to Cleveland, and with help from Margaret (Margie) Chandler, incorporated the SHVM as an official non-profit 501c3 organization in the state of Ohio. Bill Stanley was the inaugural President, Gary Lopaschuk was the Secretary (in name only), Margie Chandler was the Treasurer, and Heinrich Taegtmeyer, Lionel Opie and Christine Des Rosiers, who took responsibility for designing the Society’s logo, served as Board Members. The board held its first meeting in the Spring of 2002, using an old-school telephone conference call between the United States, Canada and South Africa (the Zoom meeting platform, for which we are all now much too familiar, had yet to be developed!) in which the Society’s bylaws were conceived, recorded and remain in place through to today.

The goal of the SHVM was to host an annual meeting that would bring together investigators and trainees from all over the world, for the opportunity to present their research and encourage discussion of innovative topics at the frontier of heart and vascular metabolism. The society did not allow for any official membership, but as Bill Stanley liked to say “we were a Marxist society that was built on the principle of Groucho (not Karl!) Marx, and on Groucho’s famous dictum: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

Using virtually non-existent funding and with the able assistance of Heinrich Taegtmeyer and Torsten Doenst, the SHVM held its inaugural meeting in Freiburg, Germany, in June, 2003. The meeting had 70 participants, and was held in a non-airconditioned conference room during a European heat wave, using a LCD projector that Bill had purchased with his own funds. The meeting was a great success and was a springboard for numerous excellent and memorable, for a variety of reasons, meetings to be held over the next 20 years. Notably, the second meeting was held in Montebello, Quebec, Canada, fulfilling Bill’s initial request! There were 84 participants, and the meeting was again memorable for the excellent science, the culturally rich and friendly atmosphere and the outstanding food and wine. However, a major thunderstorm forced us to hold our evening of dance and music with Zuruba, an Afro-Brazilian percussion ensemble, in the dining room of the hotel as our meeting venue was almost washed away by the torrential rain!

The SHVM meetings were founded on a few basic principles, that include: 1) individuals should not present at back-to-back meetings (in order to attract new participants), 2) the participation of new investigators and trainees should be promoted at every meeting, and 3) the meeting venues would alternate between North America and Europe (at least initially) and be hosted by a society colleague/friend who was interested in supporting the SHVM.

Thanks to Bill Stanley’s leadership, the SHVM has evolved into the premier international platform for disseminating research advances in the field of heart and vascular metabolism, all this in keeping with the initial “spirit” of a scientifically rich free and friendly meeting environment!