The Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS) was founded in 1991 to evaluate the proficiency of manuscript editors in the life sciences and to award credentials similar to those obtainable in other professions. The Board was founded by 10 editors who had long been active in national and international professional associations in scientific editing and publishing. They began working on the development of the certification program in the early 1980s. They were assisted by consultants in testing and by administrators of certification programs in other professions. BELS was incorporated in the state of Maryland on January 23, 1991, and the first official certification examinations were offered that year. BELS now has hundreds of members in the United States, Canada, and several European countries.