About SGMObjectives & Organization

The Society's objective is to advance the art and science of microbiology.

Like most learned societies, the Society for General Microbiology depends on the active involvement of members in Society affairs, supported by professional services from the Society's Headquarters employees.


The Society is governed by a Council, drawn from the membership. In legal terms, the Society is a Registered Charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. Members of Council bear the legal responsibilities of Trustees of the Charity, and Directors of the Company. Council is responsible for setting the overall strategy for the Society's operations, decides policy on topical issues and allocates financial support.

The Society's governing documents are its Memorandum of AssociationPDF, its Articles of AssociationPDF and its Bye-LawsPDF.

Council consists of 6 Officers (chosen by Council) and 8 Members elected by postal ballot of all Ordinary Members of the Society. In accordance with a Special Resolution to amend the Articles of Association passed at the Annual General Meeting on 9 September 2008, the number of elected members will be reduced to six by September 2011.

The Officers serve terms varying from 3 to 7 years; elected Members serve up to 4 years.

Council meets at the Society's Marlborough House headquarters for a full day in February, May, July and November. Council meetings are attended by the Chief Executive and other senior staff as appropriate.

Council Committees and Working Parties

The business of Council is facilitated by standing committees: Treasurer's (chaired by the Treasurer), Publications (chaired by the Publications Officer) and Education and Public Affairs (chaired by the Education and Public Affairs Officer). Each includes further Officers, Members of Council and appropriate headquarters staff.

From time to time, Council also sets up small Working Parties to consider particular issues. The Strategy Group (chaired by the President) meets annually to consider long-term developments.

Scientific meetings

The Society organizes two main meetings a year, in the spring and autumn. These are held at either international conference centres or appropriate university venues. Each meeting lasts three and a half days and comprises a mixture of sessions including symposia, workshops, debates and offered papers. Top international experts are invited to make presentations. Poster viewing takes place each evening, along with refreshments to enable networking. SGM meetings aim to provide balanced programmes that reflect modern microbial science and meet the needs of the community.

The Society currently caters for the different areas of microbiology through five divisions: Prokaryotic Microbiology, Eukaryotic Microbiology, Virology, Education and Irish. Each scientific division is divided into four themes: Microbial diversity and evolution, Fundamental microbiology, Translational and applied microbiology, Infectious disease. The Education Division covers all aspects of education, training and career development. The Irish Division holds its own meetings in Ireland, but also contributes to the planning process of the main meetings.

The main business of the divisions is to draw up proposals for symposia, workshops and other sessions and their members are selected to ensure that the appropriate areas of interest are covered. Each division is headed by a Chair and Chair-elect, who sit on the Scientific Meetings Committee responsible for making decisions on policy matters and meetings content. The Scientific Meetings Officer, who also has a Deputy, reports to Council. Society members can also make proposals for sessions to the Scientific Meetings Committee.

The Society's Joint Meetings Fund provides a mechanism for sponsoring speakers at the meetings of other organizations. With the Society for Applied Microbiology, funding is also available to support small regional meetings in the UK and Ireland.

Appropriate members of Marlborough House staff attend the Society meetings to provide the administrative and support services required to ensure their smooth running, and to maintain contact with the membership.

Editorial Boards

The scientific content, quality and policies of Journal of General Virology, Journal of Medical Microbiology and Microbiology are controlled by the Editorial Boards, subject to overall approval of Council. Each Editor-in-Chief is aided by a number of Editors, who co-ordinate the scientific aspects of manuscript review. They are supported by large international Editorial Boards; scientists of repute who can provide advice on specific issues and papers.

The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology is controlled by a board consisting of the Editor and a number of Associate Editors, who report to the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes and to SGM Council.
The Editors of each journal meet regularly with the appropriate Marlborough House Staff Editors to discuss matters of journal policy and production.