The History of the NC ASM

Author: Robert S. Fulghum, Professor Emeritus, ECU School of Medicine, Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology

The North Carolina Branch was formally organized in 1947 as the North Carolina Bacteriologists by thirteen persons. Dr. Donald S. Martin (Duke U.) was elected President, Mr. C.C. Demaree of Asheville, Vice-president and Dr. MacDonald Fulton (Bowman Gray), Secretary Treasurer. Finding that status as a Branch of the Society of American Bacteriologists (SAB) required 25 members, and that there were 33 SAB members in North Carolina, a petition for Branch status along with several supporting letters was sent to SAB. The petition was put to a mail vote of the SAB Council on 31 December 1947. The SAB Newsletter of January 1948 announced the North Carolina group had become the 27th Branch of SAB. By February 1948, the new NC Branch had twenty-six members who were also members of SAB, making the branch eligible to elect a Councilor. Dr. Marvin L. Speck (NC State U.) was elected the first Councilor from NC. The original constitution of the North Carolina Branch was ratified by the members on 27 October 1947 and, with only slight modification, governed the Branch until 1975. Changes were made in 1975 to change the original name of the group from the North Carolina Bacteriologists to the North Carolina Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. A committee chaired by Dr. Robert S. Fulghum was appointed in 1979 to rewrite the Constitution and add By-Laws. In 1981, a completely revised Constitution and By-Laws was adopted. Further revisions were adopted in 1986 and in 1993.

The NC Branch was governed by its officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and Councilor under the old Constitution. The new Constitution features an Executive Committee made up of the officers. Following custom, the Vice-President was renamed President-Elect and the outgoing President became the Immediate Past President. This new office added additional continuity and expertise to the Executive Committee. When such appointments are made, the Educational Representative and the Newsletter Editor are considered adjunct members of the Executive Committee. All business and all decisions of the Executive Committee are brought before the members of NC-ASM at the Business meeting held with the scientific meeting, and are ratified by vote of the membership.

Mary Poston, the third Secretary-Treasurer who served from 1950 to 1961, died in office. Miss Poston was a longtime employee of Duke University who contributed much to the NC Branch. She was held in high esteem both by colleagues and medical students. The Mary Poston Award was established in her memory. The award was established to recognize the best paper given by a student at NC Branch meetings. Letters of appreciation have been written by past students who had received this award telling of the confidence the award gave them and the importance of the competition from the award in their graduate training.

The North Carolina Branch members enjoyed a professional camaraderie exceeded by none. The Branch meetings were always of superior quality and were often attended by 100 to 200 members during the "Golden Years" (1970's through about 1988). Many microbiological subdisciplines were represented and many of the meetings required multiple sessions. In addition to meetings in North Carolina, many joint meetings were held with other branches adjacent to North Carolina. The meetings rivaled the national ASM meetings in depth and breadth of scientific presentations, if not in the size of the meetings. It is not possible here to mention all of the outstanding members of the NC Branch and their contributions to the NC Branch of ASM and to ASM. Their activities ranged from exemplary service on committees to the winning of the Nobel Prize.