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Message from the Dean

Dean Murakami's Inauguration Address

2015-04-01

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Dr. Yoshinori Murakami. As of today, I am taking up my duties as the newly appointed Dean of IMSUT. It is my great pleasure and honor to be here with you and to be able to deliver my inauguration speech.

As you know, over these past 4 years, I have served as a Vice-Dean under the leadership and deanship of Professor Dr. Hiroshi Kiyono, the 26th Dean of the IMSUT. Prof. Kiyono has really made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of IMSUT to a new stage along with the IMSUT One to Gogo Project. I have learned so much from his very active and positive management of the institute. Now I am very happy to announce to you that I will take over the IMSUT One to Gogo project and further develop and strengthen the project. Of course, detailed challenges of the IMSUT One to Gogo Projects shall be improved in response to the very rapid social change surrounding IMSUT. But, I believe that the essence of the Project is to continuously improve ourselves and evolve to the future, and this is identical to the spirit or DNA of the IMSUT. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Prof. Kiyono for his great and successful leadership and deanship. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Prof. Kensuke Miyake who served as the Vice-Dean for Finance for 4 years with me. Thanks to his great contribution, all the finances and IMSUT's space issues became clear and got opened to discussion by all the members of the IMSUT. I should also like to thank the former IMSUT Hospital Director Prof. Kohzoh Imai and current Director Prof. Keiya Ozawa for their wonderful management of the Hospital, and Mr. Kiyoshi Moroda and Ms. Kikue Konno, former Chiefs of the IMSUT Administration Office. Thank you very much again.

Here, I am extremely happy to introduce to you the members of our new Executive Committee. Prof. Mutsuhiro Takekawa and Prof. Yasushi Kawaguchi have kindly agreed to serve as Vice-Deans, in charge of General Affairs and Finance, respectively. Both professors are very active and young but have spent many years at IMSUT as Professors and also Associate Professors. Prof. Ozawa will continue to serve as the Director of the IMSUT Hospital. In addition, Ms. Kiyomi Ueda from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences will serve as the new Chief of the Administration Office. Professors Shinya Manabe, Yuji Yamanashi, Kensuke Miyake, Satoru Miyano, Arinobu Tojo and Nobuaki Yoshida have agreed to cooperate in the management of IMSUT by representing their respective Departments and Centers in the Executive Committee. I am really happy to be able to engage in the management of IMSUT with these distinguished members and altogether 30 Professors. Furthermore, IMSUT has over 1,000 members in total, including 50 Principal Investigators, 200 research staff, 280 administrative staff, 210 members working in the Hospital, and 300 graduate students on this Campus. All are our colleagues.

Today, I am extremely happy to present to you a 3D-model ―just completed last week― of the future IMSUT under the Platinum West Re-development project. I hope all of you are surprised and excited to see this tremendous 3D-model. As you know, Prof. Kiyono started this project 4 years ago and this is a milestone in the progress of this project and a wonderful gift from Dean Kiyono to all members of the IMSUT. Dr. Hideki Imai, Professor in the Institute of Industrial Science and a member of the Campus committee in the University, kindly agreed to build this 3D-model with his colleagues. This model is one 500th in scale and total weight is over 50kg. So, I should like to thank our Administrative Staff who kindly carried this heavy model to this auditorium. I am planning to display this model in some places to show and share this future vision of IMSUT. Anyway, I myself am so very impressed to see this model. Just imagining a number of our new buildings elegantly built atop the Shirokanedai hills is like a wonderful dream. If you like, you can paint all the buildings and campuses with various colors. We can feel the great spirits of our predecessors who recovered from the big earthquake, Kanto Daishinsai, 92 years ago and reestablished this main building of IMSUT. Of course, this is merely a model at one 500th (0.2%) scale for now. But I believe that if we do our best as members of Team IMSUT to achieve IMSUT's mission, we can accomplish this project and make this dream come true.

However, today's circumstances around IMSUT or even around Japan are not bright but rather similar to the circumstances at the time of the Kanto-daishinsai. It is indeed a chaotic time. The semi-privatization of the university has great advantages in some cases but of course, disadvantages in other cases. Especially, budget and position reduction and space problems are becoming very serious issues for maintaining and developing the day-to-day activities of IMSUT and the IMSUT Hospital. However, we also have good news today as AMED, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, finally started operation today to totally reconstitute the systems and spur medical and applied research in Japan. In addition to basic science, IMSUT will be actively involved in this new system and continue to take leadership in this research field. Thus, although the circumstances around IMSUT are challenging, I still believe that we can certainly overcome this obstacle and continue to adapt to the new era because we have our own history and DNA to have overcome a number of hardships and because we are equipped with diversity or heterogeneity in our specialties which can adopt and overcome any type of circumstantial changes. Especially, I am proud of the brave IMSUT members who are willing to take on new challenges and adapt spontaneously and continuously.

In fact, the most distinguished feature of IMSUT is, I believe, the diversity or heterogeneity of its members. From basic researchers of high originality to applied or clinical researchers, scientists with a variety of backgrounds and specialties come together at IMSUT and play critical roles as heroes or heroines in each field. This is an ideal but quite rare feature at least in Japan and should provide very strong driving forces to establish and develop new fields of science in an interdisciplinary manner.

The spirit to challenge new frontiers of medical science is another prominent feature of IMSUT. As you know, IMSUT was established in 1892 in the middle of the Meiji era when 180 thousand out of 40 million Japanese people died of infectious disorders each year, and pathogens were the main target of the medical sciences of the day. After World War II, however, in response to improvements in public health and changes in the diseases among Japanese, we adopted cancer science, genome science, regenerative medicine and translational research and shifted the main targets of medical science from pathogens to disease genes. We really appreciate the foresight of our predecessors with the highest respect in recognizing the critical challenges. At the same time, 15 years have now passed since the beginning of the 21st century, and we really need to take up challenges on new frontiers of medical science.

Possessing the only research institute affiliated hospital in Japan is the third unique characteristic of IMSUT. Clinical work is by itself very important work with heavy duties, however, members of the IMSUT Hospital are not only involved in state-of-art medical care, but also dedicate themselves to cure or try to cure the intractable disorders that require even more efforts. However, when we pause to think that most current state-of-art medicines were each established by our predecessors, transforming the intractable disorders of their time to the curable diseases of today, we are all proud of the passion and efforts of the hospital team members.

In addition, as everybody agrees, Shirokanedai Campus is an ideal campus to develop interdisciplinary sciences, because it is adequately isolated and compact in size, making it easy to communicate with each other and to share the identity of being members of IMSUT. This bond is well demonstrated when many OB and OG scientists and medical staff participate in the annual Founding Commemorative Symposium in June or the reunion of IMSUT Hospital in December. Prof. Kiyono referred to this wonderful and warm bonding as the IMSUT family. I completely agree with him and am proud of this active and warm bonding which gives us the strength to overcome various challenges.

As I have mentioned many a time, IMSUT is really an attractive place to work or even a miracle place to live in, especially in the current rather cool and stressful Japanese society. Thus, in order to be able to evolve IMSUT continuously, to overcome the three critical issues in personnel, budget and space and finally to become the top-class institute of medical science in the world, I will show you the 5 most critical approaches that I would like to tackle together with all of you.
1. Recruitment of top quality scientists in both basic and clinical medical sciences.
2. Organization and promotion of the unique features of IMSUT hospital specifically oriented to translational research.
3. Continuous efforts to develop IMSUT Foundation to support IMSUT activity.
4. Reinforcement of supporting facilities for disease-oriented research as a core of the Joint Research Center.
5. Transformation of IMSUT to become an internationally friendly top medical science institute.

For IMSUT's continuous growth as one of the top-level institutes in the world, continuous efforts to recruit both the best basic and clinical faculty members are of course our first priority.

Secondly, IMSUT hospital harbors great possibility for establishing completely new medical approaches or translational research on intractable disorders. However, for exactly the same reason, the management of such a special hospital by a restricted number of faculty members and fiscally restricted operating budgets is always difficult. Therefore, to promote and support the hospital is another top priority for us. We have been discussing this issue within a working group of professors and in a clinical mini-retreat in which all the department heads in the hospital participated. Under the new Executive Committee, we would like to continue to seek the best or a better resolution for the growth of the IMSUT hospital.

For sustainable growth of IMSUT leading it to become the top-quality research institute in the world, we need to have a cooperative organization independent of IMSUT, which can overcome the restricted regulation of the semi-privatized stage of our National University Corporation System. Therefore, Prof. Kiyono and the former members of the Executive Committee have planned to establish IMSUT Foundation. Although we still have a number of obstacles to overcome before establishing the foundation due to the restriction by the current National University Corporation rules, we must continue wrestling with the challenge of establishing the IMSUT Foundation for the sustained growth and management of IMSUT.

For the past 4 years, the importance of IMSUT as a core institute of Joint Research Project supported by MEXT has been becoming more prominent. Therefore, one of the future directions of IMSUT would be facility-based big science. As you know, we have already established and continue to reinforce the activities of project-oriented Research Centers in IMSUT. One of the successful examples, I believe, is the Human Genome Center with its bio-medical-oriented super-computer and BioBank Japan facility, which have succeeded in being core activities in the Genomic Medicine Project supported by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), which has just been established as of today as I mentioned previously. Furthermore, we have several plans to establish or reinforce bio-resources facilities, including a new facility for experimental animals, bank systems of disease-oriented iPS cells, viruses, bacteria and genes and chemical libraries. Big science based on these big facilities will be at least one of the main streams of today's and tomorrow's IMSUT. In addition, I am very pleased to announce to you that a new research initiative of the University of Tokyo, named Medical Research Initiative, The University of Tokyo (MRI-UTokyo), has also just been launched today, and IMSUT will serve as an administrative institute together with several Project Professors and Project Researchers. The MRI-UTokyo bridges a number of top-quality scientists in medical genomics and related scientific fields, including not only basic and medical geneticists, informaticians and computer biologists but also scientists who are specialized in ethical, legal, and social issues in the University of Tokyo. MRI-UTokyo will surely contribute to enhance the various levels of activities related to medical genomics in Japan. I believe that playing central roles in this kind of joint research project or research initiatives in the University of Tokyo, in Japan and in the world should be another main activity for the current and future IMSUT to pursue.

Finally, our ultimate goal is to be a globally-oriented research institute in the field of medical science. In fact, Prof. Hiromitsu Nakauchi and Prof. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the IMSUT, have already been cross-appointed to be Professors at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin, respectively. Former professor of the IMSUT, Prof. Yusuke Nakamura serves as Professor at the University of Chicago at present. However, as we know, we are not yet at the stage of proudly saying that IMSUT is a truly international institute. So, we need to continuously work together to accelerate our efforts to become a global institute in medical science. In addition to the tight link to world-famous overseas institutes with the use of cross-appointment systems, we will continue to meet the challenge of recruiting cutting-edge scientists as well as active young researchers and students from top-quality universities and institutes around the world to work with us at IMSUT here on the Shirokanedai campus. I believe that our visions of the new buildings of IMSUT in the 3D-model that I showed you at the beginning of my talk will surely come true when the institute finally become a top-quality international institute.

I introduced the future plan of IMSUT on the basis of the IMSUT One to Gogo Project, because we are in the third term of the Project. In addition, taking this opportunity, I must remind you that the re-construction of the central and west wing of the main building, including this auditorium, will start this October. Re-construction will require at least one to one and a half years, and so it will be finished by March, 2018, about two years from now. So, a number of Divisions, Facilities and the Administrative Office must transiently move to other places on this campus during this re-construction. Since the purpose of this re-construction is the reinforcement against major earthquakes and this is the last chance to have the University bear the re-construction expense, we were pleased to accept this proposal. Yet, I am very sorry to the relevant staff and faculty members in the relevant areas for having spent a lot of efforts and time for this relocation. We will be very happy to support anything related to this re-constitution and relocation. And I sincerely hope that IMSUT will overcome this difficult time and regenerate again with partly new structures, and the inconvenience behind us. We would like to ask your cooperation in this matter, and thank you very much for your understandings.

I shared a lot of dreams and hopes of IMSUT today, taking the opportunity of my inauguration address. As a conclusion, I want to emphasize that the most important treasure of IMSUT is each one of you, a member and a colleague of this unique and lovely institute. Recruiting colleagues, educating colleagues, supporting colleagues and entrusting colleagues is the only way, I believe, to continuously evolve IMSUT and to become a number one pre-eminent institute of medical science. Everybody who devotes himself or herself to scientific development, clinical care or public service can become heroes and heroines in each field here at IMSUT. That is my dream for IMSUT. I want to reiterate that I am extremely happy to work with all of you to evolve IMSUT to the top research institute.

Thank you very much for your attention.


Yoshinori Murakami, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Dean