During the Chile Workshop, Larry Hightower talked with several of the participants about the first workshop in India in 1997, which actually pre-dated the CSSI, and which was one of the sources of the grassroots movement that led to the founding of our society. Wolfgang Schumann promised to send a first-hand account of the beginning of the concept of regular international workshops in the cellular stress response field and you may read his account below along with some images from the workshop:

“In August 1996, I had a discussion with two scientists from India staying at my place in Bayreuth, Germany about international meetings. They complained that all major meetings are organized either in Northern America or in Europe. This makes it impossible for scientists from developing countries to attend these meetings. At the most, one or two will obtain financial support from their own countries to travel to one of these meetings. During this discussion, we came up with the idea to organize meetings in developing countries. Since these countries are unable to pay for the travel costs of the foreign scientists, it should be able to attract scientists to these meetings paying the travel costs from their own grants while the organizing country will pay for accomodation and food.

I was able to get Prof. Subhash Lakhotia interested in this idea, and he organized the first International Workshop on “Molecular Biology of Stress Responses” at his place, the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi/India from October 14 17, 1997. I was lucky to obtain six tickets from the German Ministry of Research for German scientists, and another 22 scientists from Europe, Isreal, USA and Canada attended the workshop. From India, a total of about 100 scientist came to Varanasi, some traveling for about 48 h by train from Southern India. All the meals including breakfast were provided by the organizers who has hired a catering service preparing the meals under a tent erected next to the institute. There was also a cultural part accompaning the meeting including Indian music, a boat ride on the Ganges river during full moon and a visit of Sarnath, an important site for Buddhists. At the end of the meeting we agreed because of the great success, to continue with the workshop, and Robert Tanguay promised to contact his friends in China to take care of the second workshop. This was organized by Prof. Tangchun Wu in 1999.” – Wolfgang Schumann, 2006