Foreword by the Chair

Herwig Leirs

Portrait image Herwig Leirs

"For those familiar with the ITM Annual Report and its foreword, you will recognise a major change from the past 14 years – I am not Cathy Berx! With Cathy having stepped down, it is I, Herwig Leirs, Interim Chair and Vice Chair of the ITM Board of Governors, who has the privilege of welcoming you to this Annual Report and of inviting you on a journey through the achievements of the institute in 2022. In 2023, as new Chair of the Board of Governors, this honour will be Jo Bury’s."

"From the governance perspective the year was marked by four key events: the election of a new alumni representative to the General Council, the selection of five new Governors to the Board, the departure of our long-standing Chair, Cathy Berx and her appointment as Honorary Chair, and the appointment of the new Chair, Jo Bury, who will lead the Board of Governors from 2023 onwards.

Firstly, January brought the election of Dr ElizabethTabitha Abbew as alumni representative of our General Council for the 2022–2026term. A specialist in internal medicine, Elizabeth is from Ghana. She graduated from our Master of Science in Tropical Medicine in 2021 and started her PhD in2022. She took over from Anne Muendi Musuva (Kenya), who was the first ITM alumna elected to the newly formed General Council in 2018. 

I want to thank Anne for her contribution to this statutory body that ensures the policy, administration, and management of ITM align with its purpose, identity and integrity. Her energy and commitment in the founding years of the Council and her calm and wise ways were very much appreciated. 

Secondly, January 2022 brought a call for applicants to the institute’s Board of Governors. As per our statutes, the General Council was charged with the evaluation and appointment of these new Governors. A selection committee, made up of members of the Council and ITM Director Marc-Alain Widdowson, and supported by ITM’s General Manager Ann Peters and the Board memberSteven Serneels, took charge of the task. Working through 41 applications they announced five new appointments in June 2022. Thank you to those involved for their thorough work allowing us to have complimentary profiles that will strengthen our Board and our governance. 

From August, we had the pleasure of welcoming Ann Aerts, Ann Adriaensen, Inge Basteleurs, Luc Broos and Jo Bury as new members of the Board along with hosting an official leaving reception for Cathy Berx. Cathy was given and gracefully accepted the title of Honorary Chair. ITM has much to thank her for. Over the past 14 years, she worked to see the institute evolve into a modern scientific institution that is standing the test of time and maintaining its relevance in a changing healthcare and policy landscape. I would also like to say a personal thank you to Cathy – taking over the reins for the last six months of the year as Interim Chair was greatly facilitated by our trusted working relationship. I also need to thank Patricia Lanssiers and Dirk Moens, another two departing members of the Board, for their commitment and contribution to the success of the institute. 

Along with these occurrences the daily business of the Board continued. Key topics addressed were the update of the ITM salary policy that was put in place in 2022. The masterplan for the institute’s infrastructure has also been moving ahead with some decisions on possible new buildings and key locations firming up. 

To finalise the year, a new Chair has been elected - Jo Bury. Jois founder and ex-managing director of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology(VIB) and is well equipped for bringing the institute forward on its path of scientific excellence and relevance in a changing world into 2023 and beyond.I look forward to working with him – and with this I hand the writing of next year’s Annual Report Foreword and all that it encompasses into his capable hands! I wish you all good reading and to our continued journey into 2023with ITM and its robust governance structure now again filled with a new team of committed, engaged experts."

Herwig Leirs 
Interim Chair of the Board of Governors, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors

New Chair of the Board of Governors from 2023: Jo Bury

Jo Bury portrait image

"Over the past 25 years, I have built up management experience at academic institutions and managed a research centre with world-class ambitions, both in basic research and in its economic and societal valorisation. It fills me with excitement that I can apply this knowledge and experience as chair to further advance the internationally respected ITM. I look forward to contributing to the scientific excellence and societal relevance of the institute with an inspiring and supportive Board of Governors."