When, as President of the Committee on International Co-operation of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, I visited the Royal Society and the British Academy in July 2000, I had in mind that the co-operation with the Royal Society be expanded as much as possible and, for the first time, that preparations be made for signing an Agreement on Co-operation with the British Academy. As usually, I could not help visiting the Birkbeck College of the University of London so well-known to me since the time Professor J.D. Bernal was there. I owe that visit mostly to Professor Alan Mackay, FRS, to whom I am tied by many years of friendship. It was on that occasion that in a conversation with David Moss, Professor of Biomolecular Structures, and his co-worker Dr. Clare Sansom, the idea was conceived to organize the postgraduate course in bioinformatics, this newly emerging interdisciplinary research area as the interface between biological and computational sciences, primarily aimed at research students from Central and Eastern Europe.
During the visit to the Royal Society, Alan and I met Professor Brian Heap, Vice-President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society at that time, and his collaborators. Professor Brian Heap supported our efforts on the condition that the Royal Society and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts acted as initiators, while the Birkbeck College in London and the Faculty of Science in Zagreb took over organization. However, this was not the only part of activities which were agreed upon.
In view of the Agreement on Co-operation concluded between the Royal Society and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Dr. Clare Sansom several times visited Zagreb and the International University Centre (IUC) in Dubrovnik where the course was intended to be organized. The realization of the course would be hardly thinkable without her persistence and wish for success. However, Professor Sibila Jelaska, Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, Zagreb, and Professor David S. Moss, School of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, supervised the course as its co-directors. It is a special pleasure to me that Dr. Kristian Vlahovicek, a former research student of mine, also greatly contributed to the organization of the course.
The course aroused far more interest among young researchers than it had been expected so that the number of participants had to be limited due to objective reasons (lack of room and mostly lack of computers in the IUC). Eight lecturers from five countries and 23 students from some ten countries took part in the course. The success was surprising, students enjoyed the course and learnt a lot finally marking the course with the average score on the Good/Excellent boundary.
Last but not least, the organization of the course was facilitated by the financial support of the NATO within the NATO Science Programme. The course was also sponsored by the Faculty of Science of the University of Zagreb and PLIVA, Zagreb, the largest Croatian pharmaceutical industry. For Croatian participants generous financial support was obtained from the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Croatia. Gratitude is due to the International University Centre, the organizers of the course, to all lecturers and participants.
All students would like such advanced courses to be continued in future. Let us act according to their wishes.
Professor Emeritus Boris Kamenar, Zagreb, July 2004