The seeds of ERNDIM (European Research Network for evaluation and improvement of screening, Diagnosis and treatment of Inherited disorders of Metabolism) were sown in 1991 when interested Doctors and Biochemists unsuccessfully applied to the European Community for a grant for a large and ambitious project. Undaunted by this setback they initiated an informal ERNDIM meeting at the 30th annual symposium of the SSIEM in Leuven in 1992.
Subsequently workers from several European countries including The Netherlands, Belgium, France, the UK and others, led by Maastricht and Diepenbeek, formulated a new application to the European Community for a grant concentrating on a Quality Assurance Programme within BIOMED-1 (Biomedical and Health Research Programme).
Following the success of this application the Executive Committee of ERNDIM began its work in May 1994 and on September 5th 1994 the ERNDIM Foundation was formally registered in Maastricht.
The BIOMED-1 grant supported the successful establishment of Quality Control schemes for quantitative amino acids, qualitative organic acids, quantitative organic acids and special metabolite assays. As many as 162 laboratories were involved in one or more schemes. Educational aspects of quality control were promoted, for example through Newsletters and workshops at the SSIEM annual symposium.
Although great progress was made it was evident that performance both of laboratories in general, and for some groups of metabolites needed to be considerably improved. This led to a successful application or a further EU grant, within BIOMED-2 in 1998.
This grant was used to attempt to improve performance in general and specifically supported the following projects:
Expansion of Diagnostic Proficiency Testing from the single centre serving about 20 laboratories in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to include 2 more schemes for Southern Europe and for Scandinavian countries and the U.K.
Establishment of a new European Directory of SSIEM labs
Expansion of coverage and improvement of existing schemes
Further educational activities
Today ERNDIM offers schemes for qualitative organic acids, quantitative organic acids, special assays in urine and serum, purines and pyrimidines, quantitative amino acids, neurotransmitters in CSF, pterins in urine, acylcarntines in serum, cystine in WBC, lysosomal enzymes in fibroblasts and acylcarnitines in DBS. Diagnostic proficiency testing is now operated in 5 centres (UK, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Czech Republic) allowing participation of more than 100 laboratories in Europe.
Major steps have been taken towards full harmonisation of the schemes with respect to numbers and frequency of samples, submission of results and reporting by internet. Schemes are organised by SKML (Stichtig Kwaliteitsbewaking Ziekenhuis Laboratoria, Foundation for quality control in hospital laboratories), CSCQ (Quality Control Center Switzerland) or academic centres working closely with a Scientific Advisory Board and administered by the ERNDIM executive committee which represents the ERNDIM Foundation Board and National Experts.
Since 2005 ERNDIM has been a partner in the Eurogentest http://www.eurogentest.org/ project.