Some measure of the growth of the subject as an independent scientific discipline can be seen in the increase in membership of I.S.N. (Fig. 1) and in the increase in the pages published in the major journals devoted specifically to neurochemistry (Fig. 2).


Fig 2
Figure 2. Growth of neurochemical journals. * The numbers of pages are distorted to some extent in that J. Neurochem. (in 1976) and Neurochem. Res. (in 1987) changed format to obtain increased numbers of words per page. + Change of publisher

The Society was still rapidly evolving in the early 1970s with financial problems largely associated with the difficulties with Pergamon Press over publication of the journal (below) , so it was not an easy time for the officers. Nevertheless many members felt the organisation of the society still to be too paternalistic and autocratic with little opportunity for ordinary members to contribute to society affairs or to have any influence in the appointment of officers. These feelings were widespread and resulted in more open leadership, especially with the creation of a Nominating Committee under the guidance of Victor Whittaker. This was particularly important in providing a mechanism for direct participation by the members in choice of candidates as nominees for the elections of Officers. Victor, in his personal recollections (archives) says "I felt that the procedures for the election of Officers and Councillors could be better organized. This led to the formation of the Nominating Committee in 1975. I was its first Chairman. This was an influential committee as it had the task of recommending to the Council suitable candidates for vacancies in the Officers and Council who, if approved, became official nominees. Care was taken, however, not to infringe the rights of members to make nominations of their own according to the Articles of Association". A further improvement was introduced for the 1989 elections in that two official nominees (rather than one) for the posts of Secretary and Treasurer were on the ballot paper.

The Officers at that time put a great amount of effort in restructuring the Society with the formation of the Subcommittees listed in Table 3 (see also below). As the society grew and increased its business and pastoral activities, members of Council found that participation in the meetings, not only of Council, but particularly of the myriad but valuable committees and subcommittees that had been set up, inhibited or sometimes prevented the (usually senior) scientists from attending the scientific sessions. The problem was exacerbated as members of Council were often on Councils of sister societies or members of the editorial boards of neurochemical journals, who took the opportunity to meet during I.S.N. meetings, taking advantage of cost-saving and the likelihood of a majority attendance. The Council took this matter seriously and for the Riva del Garda meeting, set up for the first time an I.S.N. office at the meeting with prescheduled timetables for all the various meetings to be held. The Council also began to meet before and after the scientific programme to enable members to contribute to the science, so important to the education of younger scientists. An important benefit from the new wealth was the ability to pay the extra expenses incurred.

The membership numbers increased slowly but steadily from 226 in 1967 to around 1500 now (Fig. 1). Exact numbers have sometimes been difficult to obtain as the reports to Council (to judge from the minutes) often listed applications and the decisions on acceptance of new members, but not an update on current numbers, taking into account lapsed or deceased members. Also, if numbers were given, it was usually the total number, rather than broken into categories : full, associate, junior, emeritus, sustaining. At the time of the changeover from Pergamon to Raven as publisher of the Journal (because the publishers operated membership subscriptions on our behalf), there were considerable difficulties in knowing the precise membership : the Treasurer had 3 lists - one from Raven (incomplete initially because Pergamon refused to divulge it, section 8), the second from the I.S.N. Secretary and the third, his own. All different! It took much time and effort to establish a reliable membership list, mainly due to the labours of Victor Whittaker and Bernie Agranoff, noted below.

The procedure for processing applications for full or associate membership remained cumbersome, involving nomination by a Membership Committee for approval by Council, which met only every 2 years. If the timing wasn't fortuitous it could take much more than two years. The minutes of Council meetings from 1969 regularly included painful discussions about this, but it was only in 1977 that the procedure was streamlined, so taking approximately 1 year. It is still somewhat bureaucratic and tends to inhibit full voting membership of younger neurochemists, neuroscientists and clinicians genuinely interested in neurochemistry, but who have not published specifically on the subject or worked actively in it . Yet the society is anxious to increase its membership! The annual subscription for full members has risen very little over the past 25 years - originally $ 5 in 1967, it was increased to $ 10 in 1971-2, to $15 in 1973-4 and to $ 30 in 1980-1, which is the current subscription .

In 1978 the Society recruited some sustaining members who generously agreed to make a regular donation to support its activities : Merck Sharp & Doehm, Hoffmann LaRoche, EndoLabs and CIBA-Geigy. By 1981 they had been joined by Cyanamid, FIDIA, Glaxo, Merrell, Sandoz and Upjohn. There have been some changes since then and the current sustaining members are : CIBA-Geigy, FIDIA, Marion Merrell Dow, Merck Sharp & Doehm, Sandoz and Upjohn.

Communication with members initially took the form of a personal report letter from the Chairman and appeared in 1968, 1970 and 1971. These were succeeded by "Newsletters to Members" which appeared 2 or 3 times per year and ultimately evolved into the current "ISN News" (Section 5), for which contributions from ordinary members are assidously solicited. Copies of most of these are stored in the I.S.N. archives.