BBS Constitution – Rules of the Society

Approved at the General Meeting of December 1988;
Amended at the General Meeting of December 2001;
Amended at the General Meeting of May 2015.

  1. This Society shall be called the 'British Biophysical Society'.
  2. The Society is instituted solely for the advancement of the science of biophysics and of education in this field. Biophysics is the study of the functioning and structure of living organisms and their components viewed from a physical standpoint and the application of physical and physicochemical techniques to biological problems.
  3. Scientists who are, or have been, engaged in research or teaching connected with biophysics and related subjects, and other persons whose election the Committee shall consider would be in the interests of the Society, shall be eligible for election as Ordinary Members. Acceptance of membership implies agreement to abide by the rules of the Society.
  4. The Committee may recommend for election as Honorary Members persons of distinction in science who have contributed to the advancement of the subjects specified in rule 2. Honorary Members shall have all the privileges of Ordinary Members including voting rights, but shall not pay a subscription.
  5. Persons who wish to become Ordinary Members of the Society shall apply on the form provided. The Committee shall be empowered to accept or reject such applications. A list of new members shall be published annually in the Society's Newsletter.
  6. Each ordinary Member shall pay an annual subscription at such rate as shall from time to time be determined by the Members at a General Meeting. The subscription is payable in advance, and becomes due on 1 January. In the case of a newly elected Ordinary Member the first payment shall be made in and for the year of election (except that the subscription paid by members elected after 1 July of any year shall be for the remainder of that year together with the whole year following).
  7. Persons studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree who possess the qualifications indicated in rule 3 shall be eligible for Student Membership; their election shall be governed by the procedure laid down in rule 5 for Ordinary Members. Student Members shall have all the rights of Ordinary Members. Student Membership shall be automatically convertible to Ordinary Membership on 1st January of the year following that in which the member obtains their degree.
  8. A scientist who has been an Ordinary Member of the Society for more than five years and who retires from employment may apply to the Committee to be elected a Member Emeritus. Such members shall not have voting rights, but shall remain on the mailing list of the Society and be eligible to attend scientific meetings at Members rates. Members Emeritus shall not pay a subscription.
  9. Any Ordinary Member whose subscription is two years in arrears and has been duly notified of the fact at the address last known to the Society shall, ipso facto, cease to be a member of the Society, but shall be eligible for re-election.
  10. Companies and organisations involved with Biophysics shall be eligible for corporate membership; applications shall be made by an authorised representative of the company or organisation, on the form provided. The Committee shall be empowered to accept or reject such applications. Corporate members shall pay an annual subscription at such rate as shall from time to time be determined by the Members at a General Meeting, and be entitled to benefits as determined by the Members at a General Meeting. The subscription is payable in advance, and becomes due on 1 January. Corporate membership is subject to annual review by the Committee.
  11. The business of the Society shall be conducted by a Committee of Members consisting of the Officers and thirteen other Members, to be referred to as Ordinary Members of the Committee. The committee may co-opt up to four additional members, to include the nominated representatives of such other learned societies or bodies as may be appropriate.
  12. The Officers shall be an Honorary Treasurer and two Honorary Secretaries. One of the Secretaries (the Meetings Secretary) shall deal with scientific meetings and the second (the General Secretary) with other affairs of the Society. The Officers shall be nominated by the Committee and submitted for election at the Annual General Meeting each year, subject to the proviso that no Officer shall normally be eligible to continue in the same office for more than five consecutive years.
  13. No Ordinary Member of the committee shall be eligible to serve as such for more than three consecutive years, a rotation being arranged so that three Ordinary members normally retire each year. Nominations to vacancies may be made by the Committee or by not less than five Members, for election at the Annual General Meeting.
  14. Vacancies on the Committee, or among the Officers, occurring during the year may be filled by co-option until the next Annual General Meeting.
  15. The Committee shall elect one of its members to act as Chairman of the Society. The Chairman shall chair meetings of the Committee and general meetings of the Society, and may act for a period not greater than three years. A vice-chairman shall also be elected annually and shall deputise in the absence of the chairman.
  16. An Annual General Meeting shall be held each year in conjunction with a Scientific Meeting. Special General Meetings shall normally be held in conjunction with other Scientific Meetings whenever the Committee has given notice that there is business to transact.
  17. The business to be transacted at the Annual General Meeting shall be to receive and consider Reports and Accounts presented by the Committee; to confirm or deal with any acts of the Committee which may require confirmation; to elect Honorary Members and the Officers and Committee of the Society and to appoint Accountants for the coming year, and any other business of which notice has been given in the circulated agenda of the meeting.
  18. Any twelve members of the Society may request the Committee to place a particular item of business on the agenda of a General Meeting to be held at the next available opportunity.
  19. Notification of the place, date, time and agenda of any Annual or Special General Meeting shall be circulated to all Society Members to arrive at least two weeks before the meeting.
  20. Twelve Members, present in person, shall constitute a quorum at any General Meeting. If by fifteen minutes after the published time of a General Meeting less than twelve members are present, the number present shall constitute a quorum for the purpose only of transacting business that cannot be left to a subsequent General Meeting.
  21. Each Member shall have the right to vote upon all questions submitted to any General Meeting of the Society at which the Member is present.
  22. The income of the Society is to be used at the discretion of the Committee solely in furthering the interests of the Society and in pursuance of its general aims.
  23. The assets of the Society shall be vested in four Trustees who shall normally be the Chairman and Officers of the Society. The trustees shall hold the property on behalf of the Society and shall deal with the same as advised by the Committee.
  24. In the event of the Society being wound up, any assets remaining after all outstanding accounts are paid shall be directed to objects conforming to the aims of the Society as directed by the Members.
  25. No dividend, gift, division or bonus in money shall be made to or between any of the Members of the Society provided that this need not prevent the payment to members of the Society or: (i) reasonable remuneration for goods, labour or power supplied, or services rendered; or (ii) reasonable interest for money lent; or (iii) reasonable rent for any premises; or (iv) reimbursement of expenses incurred with the approval of the Society.

Following a report from a Working Party on Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry initiated by the Council of the then Faraday Society of London. The first full meeting of the Working Party on 4th February, 1960 included D D Eley, L H Gray, A F Huxley, J C Kendrew, C F A Pantin, R D Preston, J T Randall, F J W Roughton and P M B Walker and a new Society eventually called "The British Biophysical Society " was founded: "For the application of physical and chemical concepts to biological systems".

Its first meeting was held at King's College (London) organised by Prof J T Randall. The birth of the BBS can be said to date from this inaugural meeting held on 19th and 20th December, 1960. The meeting took the form of two symposia on Comparative Studies of Muscular Contraction and on the Structure of Ribonucleic Acid, together with sessions for contributed papers. Minutes of the Steering Committee held on December 8th record that there had already been 183 applications to join the Society and 177 to attend the meeting. By the end of 1960, the membership totaled 224. At the King's College meeting W T Astbury and A V Hill were elected Honorary members.

The first Steering Committee of the BBS, Dr J C Kendrew became the first Honorary Secretary and Prof D D Eley Meetings Secretary, and the Committee elected Prof J T Randall as its first Chairman and Dr P B M Walker as Honorary Treasurer. Other committee members were S Brenner, J A V Butler, A F Huxley, R D Keynes, R D Preston, J W S Pringle, F J W Roughton and J T Weiss.

It is clear from this roll call of committee members, in the early 1960s, that the British Biophysical Society embraced a wide range of topics in Biology. The first major scientific meeting of the British Biophysical Society at King’s College, London (on The Structure of Globular Proteins and The Function of Proteins) and a report on proceedings authored by Professor Freddie Gutfreund (one of the Society’s founder members), appeared in the journal Nature.

In 2007, BBS was the national society organizing the 6th EBSA/BBS congress at Imperial College, London, with Mike Ferenczi (London) as the local organizer and Tony Watts (Oxford) as scientific chair, attracting over 1350 participants and ~800 posters.

The 50th Anniversary meeting in Cambridge in July 2010, was a special meeting, not least that Venki Ramakrishnan was elected an Honorary Member of BBS, in the same year that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his outstanding work on the ribosome, and giving a plenary lecture at the opening ceremony. He joins many highly distinguished Honorary Members of the BBS, including Aaron Klug, Andrew Huxley, John Walker, Sidney Brenner and about 40 others.

2012: Hagan Bayley and Michael Ferenczi

2011: Sir Gregory Winter and Judith Howard.

2010: Fran Ashcroft, Chris Dobson, Dame Janet Thornton, Venki Ramakrishnan

2009: Sir Alan Fersht, Dame Jean Thomas

2008: Iain D. Campbell*, John Squire

2007: Jim Barber, Tim Bliss, Guy Dodson*, Gordon C.K. Roberts

2006: Peter Bayley, Sir Tom Blundell

2005: Peter Knowles*, Andrew Thomson

2004: Dame Louise Johnson*, David Trentham

2003: Sir Sydney Brenner, Richard Henderson, Olga Kennard

2001: David Blow*, Ken Holmes

2000: Pauline Harrison, Robert Simmons

1999: Anthony C.T. North, Sir John E. Walker

1992: Lord Adrian*, E.R. Andrew*, H.F. Gutfreund, Alan L. Hodgkin*, Andrew Huxley*, Hugh E. Huxley*, Aaron Klug, Roger Pain, David Phillips*, P. Walker, D.R. Wilkie*, Maurice Wilkins*, Robert J.P. Williams*

1988: Richard D. Keynes*

1982: Daniel D. Eley, J. Kendrew*, Max F. Perutz*

1981: R.D. Preston*, J. Randall*

A. V. Hill*, W. T. Astbury*, J. D. Bernal*, W. L. Bragg*

* deceased

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