Originally established as the International Symposium on High Performance Capillary Electrophoresis (HPCE), the first event was held April 10 – 12, 1989 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA. The meeting was founded by Professor Barry Karger from Northeastern University, and sponsored by the Barnett Institute of Northeastern University, the Bay Area Chromatography Committee (BACC, predecessor of California Separation Science Society or CASSS), and chromatography instrument manufacturers. This first meeting featured oral and poster presentations that discussed the principles of separation in capillaries under high electrical fields; instrumentation development; and applications of HPCE, particularly in biotechnology. A summary of this meeting was published in Analytical Chemistry (Anal. Chem., 1989, 61, 413A–415A).
This symposium was introduced at the moment when capillary electrophoresis branched off from the HPLC community, giving the technology the necessary focus at a time when capillary electrophoresis instrumentation was first being commercialized by Applied Biosystems, Beckman (later Beckman-Coulter), Hewlett-Packard (later Agilent Technologies). The symposium series was driven by the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) under its diligent chairman Barry Karger until 2000 followed by Frantisek Svec. Leading scientists in the CE field were James Jorgenson, Frans Everaerts, Stellan Hjertén, Shigeru Terabe, Ed Yeung, and Heinz Engelhardt. The series was organized world-wide by Prof. Karger untill 2000 and later by CASSS in the USA. In Europe and Asia, the meetings were organized by separate bodies.
The SAB changed the name of these meetings at HPCE 2004 in Salzburg to MicroScale Bioseparations (MSB), since the attendees’ interests expanded into the related techniques of micro- and nano-HPLC, microfluidic separations, and Lab-on-a-Chip applications while the fascination with pure CE slowly faded. The stylized logo was created at the same time, and captured the acronym MSB in a DNA helix motif given the prominent role that electrical driven microseparations have played in DNA sequencing and early completion of the Human Genome Project.
At MSB 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland, Beckman-Coulter established the prestigious Arnold O. Beckman Medal and Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievements in The Field of Electrodriven Separations Techniques which has become an essential element of the series (see Arnold O. Beckman Award page).
Also, after the MSB 2012 symposium the SAB changed. Not just by including new members but especially by introducing new key concepts by which future meetings of the series will be organized (see Intend and Mission, MSB Essentials and MSB Core Format pages).The board also changed its name to "Strategic Program Committee" (SPC).
In consequence and in order to further broaden the scope of the series to a wider range of scientists, the SPC approved the acronym of MSB to refer to:
"Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis"
In 2016 that name was used the first time as the official conference name for MSB 2016 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, April 3-7, 2016.