Dear WNY ASM Members and Microbiology Community Friends,

As President of the Western New York ASM Branch, it is an honor to announce that the year 2021 commemorates the 50th anniversary of our branch. This major milestone offers a moment to reflect on the past and celebrate all our accomplishments and contributions over the past 5 decades that have benefited of our colleagues, community, and nation. The WNY ASM Branch was founded in 1971, and Dr. Erwin Neter was the first branch president. Dr. Neter (1909–1983) was born in Mannheim, Germany and moved to Buffalo, NY in 1936 where he established himself as an internationally recognized bacteriologist. Dr. Neter and his partner Dr. Eugene A. Gorzynski identified enteropathogenic E. coli as the first E. coli strains associated with severe diarrhea in infants and young children. Since these golden years, our members have dedicated their time and efforts to the mission of excellence in research, education and patient care. Congratulations to everyone on our 50th anniversary!

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV2 beta-coronavirus, began in December 2019 in China and spread throughout the world in an unprecedented manner. It is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world, predominantly affecting the older adult population and individuals with comorbidities. So far 2.5 million people have died worldwide, half million in the US alone. Our WNY Branch was also affected by the pandemic. Our traditional spring meeting in 2020 was cancelled, just when the entire country entered lockdown. Similarly, all in-person meetings were moved to virtual communication. Despite the mobility and physical distancing restrictions, the WNY Branch officers and committee members continue to work tirelessly and have adapted to the new environment and pandemic restrictions. In doing so, we have kept our activities alive and available to all our members. Thanks to these efforts, we had our very first virtual WNY ASM meeting in December 2020 and we are thrilled to announce our Spring 2021 virtual meeting on April 15th.

Our branch planning committee is also working on another important front, and I am pleased to announce that we have a brand new and interactive branch website. Here you will find information about meetings, programs, and other valuable resources. Links for membership and meeting registration will provide online registration and payment opportunities. We welcome everyone to visit our new Website (wnyasm.org) and to provide ideas regarding meetings, speakers, discussion topics, as well as social activities.

I am optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic will pass and that our WNY Branch activities will regain strength. I am looking forward to sharing information with you by website interactions, email or virtual meetings. I thank all members for your interest in our branch, participation at meetings, and valuable contributions as speakers or organizers. Thanks to your active participation, we will continue to have a successful WNY ASM Branch that serves our microbiology community for future decades.

Sincerely yours,

Oscar G. Gomez-Duarte, MD, PhD

President WNY ASM Branch