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In our December 2001 issue we carried a small notice announcing a meeting in the University of Birmingham Medical School, at which a new body, the Association for Medical Humanities in the United Kingdom and Ireland, was to be launched. This was a small but important step in the development of the medical humanities as a field of study in these shores, and it took forward the work of a more exploratory body, the Council for Medical Humanities, which the Nuffield Trust had sponsored over the preceding two or three years.
That meeting, as subsequently reported, attracted around fifty participants from around Britain, representing many disciplines and levels of seniority within clinical health care as well as academic subjects both from the humanities and from those comprising, or related to, medicine. The association was duly launched as envisaged, and its constitution was established with the remit of promoting the medical humanities in education, health care and research. A council was elected, and given the early task of arranging the first of what it was hoped would be an annual series of expressly academic conferences, which would promote and develop consensus regarding solid intellectual foundations for medical humanities as a field of study. That task has now been undertaken.
More than a year in the making, the association's first conference was duly convened in July of this year at Collingwood College in the University of Durham, and we are pleased to devote this editorial to …