The Institute of Medical Science, The University Of Tokyo

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Message from the Dean

Dean Yamanashi's Inauguration Speech

2019-04-01

Ladies and Gentlemen, I sincerely thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here. My name is Dr. Yuji Yamanashi. Today, I have been appointed to serve as the Dean of IMSUT, carry on from Dr. Murakami. It is a great pleasure to deliver this inauguration speech as your new Dean.

As you know, today, the new era which will start on May 1 was announced, and it will be Reiwa. Actually, the day I was awarded my Ph.D. following my five-years of graduate research at IMSUT and starting my first step as a professional researcher was April 1st, 1989 (the first year of "HEISEI"). Through the 30 years since then, I have been given the opportunity to concentrate on my own basic and applied research. Fortunately, we were able to find some signaling mechanisms underlying immunity, oncogenicity, and neuromuscular synaptogenesis, together with DOK7 myasthenia as a new disease entity. Most gratifyingly, this basic research has advanced to the point that clinical application to correct or ameliorate neuromuscular junction deficiencies has now entered our sights. I am grateful: This work could never have been done without a research culture that respects the freedom and diversity of individual researchers at IMSUT. I would like to express my gratitude once again for giving me the opportunity to return the favor as Dean under the Reiwa era announced today.

Above all, I would like to thank Dr. Murakami, the former dean who has led the development of IMSUT. Dr. Murakami has been making contributions to the development of medical research over a long eight-year period, initially as Vice-dean for general affairs under Dean Kiyono, and then as Dean during these past four years.

Looking back to 2015 when Dr. Murakami became the Dean, that same year two major changes began. Outside of the university, the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) was established, and inside of the university, Dr. Gonokami became President. The establishment of AMED was an extremely large system reform that should remain in Japan's scientific administration history, but in 2017, two years after its establishment, over 100 research projects led by IMSUT were adopted in nine out of ten major activities of AMED, and became an essential driving force for each project. Meanwhile, inside the university, reforms such as budget transparency and the new academic staff redistribution system were promoted by the new President, Dr. Gonokami. Under this system, IMSUT receives a reassignment of academic posts every year. Furthermore, last year, among the affiliated research institutes of Japan serving the life science field, IMSUT was authorized as the only International Joint Usage / Research Center by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan, and also received an "S" rating in the interim evaluation of its predecessor project, Joint Usage / Research Center by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. I think that is a remarkable outcome. In these points, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the recent contributions of Dr. Murakami and the former executive officers for their continuous efforts to develop IMSUT. Needless to say, I would like to ask for their continued support and guidance to my new administrative team based on their past experiences.

By the way, 2015 was also a valuable year for myself, in which I was involved in the management of the University of Tokyo Headquarters as one of the advisors to the President. At that time, I remember that preparations for the "Designated National University Corporation" specified by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2017, and the Fifth Science and Technology Basic Plan of Japan starting in 2016 were being advanced with a sense of deliberate speed at the University of Tokyo. I would like to explain the policy outlines since these two points have important implications for our current IMSUT.

The University of Tokyo as a "Designated National University Corporation" aims at " forming a 'Global Base for Knowledge Collaboration' to Contribute to the Future of Humanity and the Planet "as shown in its plan. Its central reform is in the "conversion from operation to management" listed in the center of the conceptual diagram. In other words, against the
backdrop of Japan's tight financial situation, it is about turning to "management" based on securing a unique income and so on, including up-front investment based on our vision of the future and revaluating assets such as land, buildings and stocks, whereas "operation" chooses only what can be done within the scope of public funds such as grants explicitly funding management expenses from government. In this respect, I believe it is important for IMSUT to increase the importance of our own "management" by further strengthening cooperation with private enterprises, in addition to obtaining operating expense grants and other public funds. Of course, IMSUT should not pursue profit alone. After all, it is necessary to promote collaboration, keeping in mind that IMSUT is an organization that should contribute and serve the development and welfare of the whole society.

Now, Society 5.0 which is a major concept promoted by the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, is emphasized as a keyword for the university's future vision as a designated national university. Society 5.0 means a new society in which cyberspace and our real space are fused by AI (Artificial Intelligence) as the fifth society following the hunting society, the agriculture society, the industrial society, and the information society. In this new society, there is no society where "humans" adjust to "objects", which are uniformly mass-produced in the present information society, and it is a society that is made more convenient by utilizing "objects" mainly for individual human beings. In my personal opinion, in Society 5.0, it is important to consider the accumulated big data as a basic value to be shared all over the world, and to consider how to use this shared asset, rather than accumulate big data by itself.

To illustrate this creation of new value in medical and nursing care, let's examine a concrete example of this Society 5.0. In this case, the big data obtained from medical practice and academic papers is widely used for the individual to live comfortably, such as through the optimal treatment, diagnosis and the realization of nursing care support at the individual level by AI. In this respect, it is self-evident that IMSUT, which has both an affiliated hospital and a supercomputer (SHIROKANE) with the highest computing performance in Japan specializing in life sciences, should contribute to the realization of Society 5.0, taking advantage of the results of basic, translational, clinical and ethical research in IMSUT. To this end, at IMSUT, we must lead the development of the AI medical care that Society 5.0 is aiming for, by promoting the recruitment and training of engineers on the cyber space side who create new "knowledge" from big data using AI, medical professionals on the real space side who practice AI medical care, and manpower with completely new skill sets who can seamlessly connect both these engineers and medical professionals, utilizing AI. I would like to ask for your continuous support regarding this vision.

However, both the designated National University and the Society 5.0 concept originated as part of policy for Japan's future. It is not a concept originated at IMSUT. In the end, the mission of IMSUT lies in the world's unprecedented creative research and technology development conducted by individual researchers and medical professionals driven by their intellectual curiosity. Starting with such attractive, yet extremely difficult challenges, we can harness IMSUT's ongoing research fields, such as mathematics, science, engineering, agriculture, pharmacy, medicine, ethics, public policy studies, etc. that can mutually inspire and build off each other with "medical science" as a keyword. By taking advantage of our unique diversity and interdisciplinary nature, many discoveries and technological innovations originating from IMSUT can be created by fusing basic and clinical studies. As the final result, I believe the day will come when our institute will truly become the world's top research institute.

To that end, I consider five issues to be important. First, secure talented people who can carry out creative research, technology development and clinical practice. Second, maintain an environment in which such talented people can play an active role. Third, secure the funds necessary to support the work of talented people. Fourth, strengthened collaboration is needed both inside and outside IMSUT, for research, technology development, and clinical advancement. Fifth, we must strengthen the system necessary to convert discoveries at IMSUT into technological innovations.

Therefore, in order to secure talented people, I believe it is essential to strengthen research on the forefront of inquiry and medical care that attracts researchers, medical professionals and students. In addition, it is also important to strengthen the ability to disseminate information regarding advanced research and advanced medical treatment to top-run individuals.

Moreover, in order to facilitate the best performance of talented people, I think that we have to advance and maintain a research environment that does not impose barriers to diversity such as language, nationality, physical handicaps, beliefs etc., and simplify administrative procedures necessary for research, technology development and clinical practice, and improve efficiency as well.

Furthermore, as a matter of course, in order to secure the funds necessary for research, technology development and clinical practice, it is necessary to strengthen our ability to acquire funds based on strong IMSUT-led collaborations with private companies, and also necessary to enhance our ability to acquire funds based on advanced hospital care, in addition to public funds such as management expense grants, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research(KAKENHI), and funds for contract research from AMED.

Also, in order to further advance research, technology development, and clinical practice at IMSUT, it is important to strengthen collaboration within the organization through rapid sharing of discoveries and technological innovations, and to strengthen collaboration at the organizational level with a range of organizations outside IMSUT. I am also currently developing and researching two treatment technologies, both of which are the result of inter-organizational collaboration between our medical research institute and external organizations.

Furthermore, in order to actively drive discovery and technological innovations originated at IMSUT and contribute to the welfare of human society, we believe it important to strengthen support for intellectual property, translational research, and clinical trials, including ethics and regulatory compliance.

As you can see, in order for IMSUT to lead the next generation of life sciences and contribute to human welfare, many issues must be overcome. Therefore, let me introduce the core members of IMSUT who will work together on those issues.

First of all, I would like to introduce the heads of each department: the Head of G0 is Prof. Miyano, G1 is Prof. Takekawa, G2 is Prof. Inoue, G3 is Prof. Miyake, G4 is Prof. Kitamura, and G5 is Prof. Yamada. The department heads' meeting is composed of highly accomplished professors from a wide range of ages, including professors who have experience as vice-dean. Therefore, the heads' meeting will strictly monitor the decisions the new executive committee and I make, and I am confident that we will receive valuable advice.

Furthermore, for the clinical practice of IMSUT at our hospital, I would like ask Deputy Director Yotsuyanagi, Nursing Director Yoshii, and Pharmacy Director Kuroda to operate and manage the hospital under the supervision of Director Tojo, in the stringent environment accompanying the recent medical administrative reforms.

I would like to express my appreciation for their continuation of the reforms in close collaboration with the research department, in association with the new board-certified doctor system and the new medical treatment, nursing, and clinical examination in the 5th floor ward with the new regime that welcomes Nursing Director Yoshii from the University of Tokyo hospital.

The administrative office supports the activities of the entire institute. I would like to ask for their support, expertise and strenuous efforts in managing IMSUT operations as well as hospital affairs under the leadership of General Manager Kato, Research Support Division Manager Uehara, Administrative Division Manager Takemoto, and Hospital Division Manager Fukuoka. I would really appreciate new approaches that might be advanced in the administration office with the new regime as we welcome Administrative Affairs Division Manager Takemoto from the National Art Center, Tokyo, and Hospital Division Manager Fukuoka from the Finance Department of the Central Administration Office, the University of Tokyo.

Last but not least, the vice-deans who will work with me in the development of IMSUT will be Prof. Nakanishi, appointed as vice-dean for general affairs, Prof. Iwama appointed as vice-dean for finance, and Prof. Furukawa, appointed as vice-dean for research support. With Professor Tojo continuing in his position as Hospital Director and General Manager Kato also staying on in his position, I believe that these two will be able to contribute to the smooth operation and management of the entire institute as the experienced members of the Steering Committee. As we are proud of our strong lineup, please feel reassured in entrusting us with the steering of the institute.

Now, all of the above members are responsible for driving the operation and management of IMSUT. But of course, the driving force of IMSUT is individual research, technology development, clinical practice, and the power of all of you involved in their support. So, I would like to close this speech by making a promise to do my best to enable each of you to demonstrate your full ability.

Yuji Yamanashi, Ph.D.
Dean