A History of the European College For The Study Of Vulval Disease

(based on the Presidential address given by Leonardo Micheletti in Turin, 2002)

The European College for the Study of Vulval Disease (ECSVD) is a relatively young society, founded in 1996. The founding members of the College were however physicians from different specialities who had a lot of experience in dealing with women with Vulval disease. The majority of the founders were already Fellows of the International Society for the Study of Vulvar Disease (ISSVD) and they realised that there was a need for a similar European Society, whose principle purposes (article 3 of the constitution) are:

  • To promote communication among medical doctors managing patients with vulval disease
  • To promote education in the field of vulval disease
  • To promote research in the field of vulval disease

The foundation of the ECSVD was originally based on an idea of Michèle Leibowitch, a French pathologist with a long interest in vulval disease. An extract from the original letter sent by Michèle Leibowitch in March 1996 inviting some European colleagues to meet in Paris, is seen below. These colleagues were already members of the International Society for the Study of Vulvar Diseases (ISSVD) and the section in italics lays out the principles which regulated the close relationship with the International Society.

Invitation letter: Paris, March 13th 1996; Meeting: 13th of April 1996

At this informal meeting held in Paris, it was unanimously decided to go ahead with the foundation of a European Society and to meet again in Turin in September 1996. Mario Sideri and Leonardo Micheletti were appointed to organise this meeting, at which the Consititution would be prepared and the definitive name of the society chosen. Michèle Leibowitch died on 30th May 1996, before the meeting in Turin, but gave invaluable support until her last days.
The representatives of the countries involved in the foundation of the ECSVD are listed below. Gynaecologists, dermatologists and pathologists are all represented, confirming the multidisciplinary nature of the College.

DenmarkB. Andreasson (Gynaecology)
FinlandO. Frankman (Gynaecology)
FranceR. Barrasso (Gynaecology)
 M. Leibowitch (Pathology)
 M. Moyal-Barracco (Dermatology)
 B.J. Paniel (Gynaecology)
 M. Pelisse (Dermatology)
GermanyG. Gross (Gynaecology)
 R. Kuerzl (Gynaecology)
ItalyL. Micheletti (Gynaecology)
 M. Sideri (Gynaecology)
NetherlandsF. Lammes (Gynaecology)
 M. van Beurden (Gynaecology)
PortugalJ. Martinez de Oliviera (Gynaecology)
SwedenE. Rylander (Gynaecology)
SwitzerlandP. Elsner (Dermatology)
United KingdomS. Neill (Dermatology)
 M. Ridley (Dermatology)

The official Founding meeting was held in Paris on January 26th 1997 and is considered as the first Congress of the ECSVD. During this meeting, Monique Pelisse, a French dermatologist, gave a talk entitled ‘Presentation of the European College for the Study of Vulval Diseases’ and Marjorie Ridley, a UK dermatologist, chaired the session on ‘Looking after vulval disease: some examples of the European experience’. Presentations on lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, vulvodynia, VIN and vulval squamous cell carcinoma followed, given by founding members of the college.

Marjorie Ridley was unanimously elected as the first President of the College, and was given the important task of setting up an Executive Council for 1998-2000, who would then define the Constitution of the College. Marjorie Ridley died on 28th October 2000 and the College lost one of the most distinguished clinicians studying vulval disease. Her experience, research and teaching still provide support for all clinicians interested in vulval disease.

Further congresses and post-graduate courses have been held every 2 years (see Venues and Past Presidents). The College now has over 100 members from all over Europe.