The Institute of Medical Science, The University Of Tokyo

  1. Home
  2. About IMSUT [Message from the Dean]

Message from the Dean

Dean's New Year Address for 2015

2015-01-06

Ladies and Gentlemen! Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and made time to share with your friends and family. I'm sure you are fully refreshed for the start of another new year at the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo (IMSUT), with new hopes and resolutions. May your new year be filled with blessings and achievements, and may you find the strength to see through your resolutions.

It has already been three years and nine months since I was appointed the 26th Dean of IMSUT. In these years the current Executive Committee proposed the IMSUT One to Gogo Project and, with your understanding and cooperation, committed itself to driving it forward. This year, the current Executive Committee's term will come to an end at the end of March, and starting from this April, IMSUT will make a new leap forward under the new Dean, Prof. Yoshinori Murakami. Since I do not have many more chances left to directly talk to you all as the Dean, I would like to take this opportunity to review the IMSUT One to Gogo Project and identify what we have accomplished and what challenges remain.

First of all, I would like to introduce the members who have served on the Executive Committee over the past four years. I start with the Vice Deans who worked hard to support a happy-go-lucky Dean like me: Professor Kensuke Miyake, Vice Dean for Finance and Professor Yoshinori Murakami, Vice Dean for General Affairs. I greatly appreciate very much for both Drs. Miyake and Murakami's dedication and hard work in supporting my deanship. Professor Kohzoh Imai served as the IMSUT Hospital Director from FY 2011 to FY 2013, and Professor Keiya Ozawa took over from FY 2014 for leading IMSUT Hospital, a core of the institute. I would also like to pay respect to the selfless efforts of the administrative staff who are integral to the daily operation of the Institute. Mr. Kiyoshi Moroda ably supported me as General Manager for the first two years, and later the current Manager, Ms. Kikue Konno took over the hard work.

Next, I would like to introduce members of the Department Heads and Center Directors who took part in the management of the Institute in cooperation with the Executive Committee. Professor Satoru Miyano led the Human Genome Center throughout the 4-year term as the acting-head up to FY 2013 and later as the formal head. Professor Haruo Saito was Chairman of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences up to FY 2012, then Professor Toshiya Manabe took over in FY 2013. Professor Jun-ichiro lnoue was the former Chairman of the Department of Cancer Biology till FY 2013, succeeded by Professor Yuji Yamanashi from FY 2014. Professor Hideo Iba has been a Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology for last 4years. The Advanced Clinical Research Center was led by Professor Chikao Morimoto in FY 2011, then by Professor Arinobu Tojo since FY 2012. The Center for Experimental Medicine and Systems Biology was led by Professor Yoichiro Iwakura in FY 2011, then by Professor Nobuaki Yoshida since FY 2012. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the members of the Department Head's Meeting for their cooperation and commitment as department Chairmen and/or Center Directors, even while they were busy pursing their own respective responsibilities in research, medical care and/or education.

After the current Executive Committee was established four years ago, the first thing we did was to set up four discussion fora to look into the organizational structure and future visions of IMSUT. Firstly, we set up two working groups (WGs) - one consisting of basic researchers and the other of clinicians - to elicit ideas from the entire organization on the future of the institute and the hospital. Secondly, alongside the discussions carried out in these two WGs, we organized a Faculty Retreat at the level of professors, where senior faculty members were invited to exchange their views and ideas on future directions and challenges for IMSUT. The valuable feedback obtained through these discussions was incorporated into the policies of the Executive Committee. The third WG formed aims to establish the IMSUT Foundation (tentative name) for the effective introduction of income from external sources. This WG is still active today. One of the outcomes of this WG is the establishment of the IMSUT One to Gogo Fund, in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of IMSUT as the Institute of Infectious diseases (IID) and the 50th anniversary of its reorganization to the current IMSUT, and aiming to fund various projects that will contribute to making IMSUT a global leader in medical science. It was established in April 2014 and is inviting public donations now. It will be used to fund projects for the development of global human resources for next generation of scientists in medical science, establishment of state-of-art research environments, and international joint research and exchange projects. Finally, the fourth WG is for the Platinum West Redevelopment Plan or Platinum West RD Plan. Currently we are building a 3D model visualizing the Platinum West Redevelopment Plan (Platinum West RD Plan), which we plan to complete and present to you by the end of the academic year.

We also reviewed and reformed the administrative structure, with the help of administrative staff, to enhance research support functions. The administrative structure used to comprise a General Affairs Division and a Finance Division, but since April 2012, it has become a three-division structure comprising an Administrative Affairs Division, a Research Support Division and a Hospital Division to provide a more effective one-stop service for our IMSUT researchers and members. As it has been almost three years since we adopted this new system, we are planning to conduct a questionnaire survey to inform efforts for further improvement. In addition, the planning section of the Dean's Office under direct control of the Dean has been reformed as the Project Coordination Office (or PCO), which has been in charge of coordinating large-scale institutional projects and events under the leadership of the Executive Committee in cooperation with the administration divisions. It is structured to coordinate between the faculty and administrative staff and respond to instructions from the Executive Committee in an agile and flexible manner.

Now I would like to go over the achievements of the 4-year term made by the leadership of current Executive Committee together with all of your full cooperation and help in IMSUT members. Another words, the achievements which we made all together.

First, the number of academic papers published during this term. It reflects the hard work of everyone working in IMSUT. It is too early, however, to obtain data on the number of papers published during this academic year 2014, so let's look at the data from FY 2011 to FY 2013. FY 2011: 633 papers published, of which 51 had an impact factor of 10.0 or more; FY 2012: 576 papers published, of which 68 had an impact factor of 10.0 or more; and FY 2013: 482 papers published, of which 62 had an impact factor of 10.0 or more. While the number of overall papers published is decreasing due to a reduction in the number of faculty members due to the "Government Initiated University Wide Reform for the Reduction of Faculty Slots", the ratio of papers with an impact factor of 10.0 or more has increased, reaching around 13% in FY 2013. This means that we are producing relevant, high-quality research, which is something we should all be proud of and I certainly appreciate all of you for your excellent work. I hope we will maintain this high level while increasing the number of publications in internationally renowned journals and contribute to the progress of medical science in the world. There has been a significant generational shift in the faculty over the past several years. Many young and talented members have joined our faculty roll, and I am confident that the number of papers published by IMSUT members will steadily increase in the future.

Next, I would like to present our progress on the obtaining University-initiated MEXT Budget Request for New and Special Program (Gaisan-yokyu in Japanese) during the past four years. Our proposed MEXT Budget Request for the "Promotion of Strategic Development of Mucosal Vaccines" was approved in FY 2011, which led to the establishment of the International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccine. In FY 2013, the "Project for the Interprofessional Working and Human Resource Development in First-in-Man Studies for the Clinical Trials of Innovative Antibodies and Vaccines" was approved, which led to the launch of the Center for Antibody and Vaccine Therapy within the IMSUT Hospital. In this FY (2014), we will launch the project for the "Formation of the University of Tokyo (or UTokyo) International Medical Genome Science Research Institution Aimed at Innovative Medicine and Disease Prevention". Because of all of your effort and hard work, we are thus able to build and initiate two new centers and one University wide institution.

For the institute-based grants from external sources, we have been successfully and steadily obtaining the research and training grants from government grant agencies including MEXT, JSPS and JST. The fact reflects hard work contributed by our faculty, PCO and administrative members.

When we consider our additional and external funds, Grants-in-Aids for Scientific Research, Contracts, Collaborative Funds, and Donations make up the bulk of IMSUT's income, which has continuously increased since FY 2011, reaching 7 billion yen in FY 2013. I believe it is the accomplishment which we have made all together and your contribution is highly appreciated. This also reflects our individual as well as team efforts. Especially, I would like to emphasize that our concept "IMSUT as a United Team" is important for continuously and successfully obtaining external funds for supporting our excellent research and training programs here at IMSUT. The Operation Management Budgets (or Unei-koufukin in Japanese) from the government has been steadily decreasing since the incorporation of the University of Tokyo (or semi-privatization of UTokyo) in 2004. Therefore, it is becoming more important than ever to actively secure funding from other sources to cover the continuous reduction of our operation and management budget from the government. We must continue to leverage our collective strengths to acquire income from external sources.

Along with the reduction in the operation and management expense budget from the government, the number of faculty and staff positions is also being reduced year by year based on the "Government Initiated Request for Reducing University Faculty and Employee Numbers". However, it is essential that we secure necessary human resources especially faculty slots to ensure the quality of high leveled research and to continuously advance our science in a strategic manner. I would like to introduce an overview of our efforts in gaining faculty slots from the program on UTokyo President Initiated Faculty Reallocations (or Socho-saihaibun in Japanese) from FY 2011 to FY 2014. We newly acquired a professor for the "Clinical Research and Practice for Antibody and Vaccine Therapy" in FY 2012, and an associate professor for "Advancing Medicine through Human Resource (HR) Development of Non-medical Translational Researchers at IMSUT Hospital" in FY 2013. We have recently acquired one professor and one assistant professor positions for "International HR Development for Disease Prediction and Prevention through Integration of Health Big Data" in FY 2014. For successfully obtaining extramural research and operation funds as well as faculty slots, it is very important in this environment that we present IMSUT as a unified team, both to other parts of the university and to external bodies, in order for us to continuously successful in our efforts on gaining external income sources and faculty reallocations. I thus would like to ask for your continued cooperation to this end.

It is essential to secure the necessary funding and talent in order to achieve the goals and missions that arise as we progress with research, and sometimes launching a new organization provides us with a shortcut to such goals. To this end, as I indicated earlier we have been successful to obtain the University-initiated MEXT Budget Request for New and Special Program (Gaisan-yokyu in Japanese) past few years. The International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccine was thus established in 2011 as such an organization to achieve one of our goals. Likewise, the Center for Antibody and Vaccine Therapy was established in 2012, and the Center for Translational Research underwent reorganization in 2014. We have also launched the Center for Gene & Cell Therapy in 2014. I expect these new organizations will play a significant role in enhancing our "Bench-to-Bedside and Bed-side to Bench (BB2 Science)" approach of medical science in the Shirokanedai campus.

We have also seen a lot of changes in our personnel through these four years. Many talented basic scientists/physician-scientists were promoted, and many newcomers of leading researchers from outside brought a breath of fresh air to the scientific community of IMSUT.
(Dr. Tomoki Todo joined us in FY 2011 as Professor at the Division of Innovative Cancer Therapy. Dr. Yasushi Kawaguchi was promoted to Professor at the Division of Molecular Virology, and Dr. Fumitaka Nagamura was promoted to Professor at the Division of Advanced Medicine Promotion. In FY 2012, we welcomed Professor Mutsuhiro Takekawa to the Division of Cell Signaling and Molecular Medicine, and Dr. Koji Hase and Dr. Satoshi Uematsu to the International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccine as Project Professors. Dr. Hirotoshi Tanaka was promoted to Professor at the Center for Antibody and Vaccine Therapy and Dr. Kaori Muto was promoted to Professor at the Department of Public Policy. In FY 2013, Professor Yataro Daigo and Dr. Makoto Yamashita joined us as Project Professors at the Center for Antibody and Vaccine Therapy and the Division of Virology, respectively. In FY 2014, Professor Keiya Ozawa joined us as Hospital Director and Dr. Tatsuhiro Shibata as professor of Laboratory of Molecular Medicine. )
I'm looking forward to seeing them shine in their respective research fields and contribute their talents on our IMSUT One to GoGo project.

We have also been active in setting up Social Cooperation Research Programs as a form of collaboration with business and/or private entities (or Shakai-renkei-koza in Japanese) which share our philosophy and mission of establishing the theory for, and actually implementing, the development of innovative preventions and therapies for uncontrollable diseases. There are five Social Cooperation Research Programs that have been launched during the past 4 years, namely: Project Division of RNA Medical Science; Project Division of Bacterial Infection Biology; Project Division of Systems Immunology Research; Project Division of Advanced Regenerative Medicine; and Project Division of International Advanced Medical Research. Another new project, Project Division of ALA Advanced Medical Research, is scheduled to start in April 2015. This will make a total of six Social Cooperation Research Programs launched during the four years because of your cooperation and hard work. It is another example of the IMSUT team work. With the continuous faculty cuts, these Social Cooperation Research Programs are playing an important role in the continuous development of new research areas in medical science and the invigoration of the institute and hospital. I hope these programs will actively pursue their missions for the advancement of science, the contribution to our society as well as the enhancement of IMSUT education and research.

The past four years also saw significant progress in terms of expanding our network for international exchange and strengthening regional collaboration. On August 8, 2012, we exchanged an MOU with the Microbial Chemistry Research Foundation for promoting collaboration between the two organizations. Following a kick-off symposium held on October 3 the same year, we launched two joint research programs under this MOU. On July 2, 2013, we signed an academic exchange agreement with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), under which "OIST-IMSUT Student Exchange Event 2014" was held on August 22, 2014. A basic agreement on cooperation with Minato Ward (or Minato-ku in Japanese) was signed on July 30, 2013. Under this agreement, we carry out social community activities in collaboration with Minato-ku and Minato-ku Medical Association, such as holding a series of Civic Medical Conference events for introducing modern clinical research and advanced medical treatment, and delivering introductory medical science classes at junior high schools within the ward. During the same period, new international exchange agreements were signed with the Sun Yat-sen University (China, Nov. 15, 2011), the Arabian Gulf University (Bahrain, July 14, 2013), Soonchunhyang University (Korea, Sep. 26, 2013), and the University of Chicago School of Medicine (U.S., Jun. 4, 2014). These agreements have contributed to a significant expansion of the research scope and possibilities for international science and academic exchanges for IMSUT. Currently, preparations are underway in earnest to establish the University of Tokyo's New York Office as a joint effort with the Institute of Industrial Science (or Seisan-ken in Japanese). We are also planning a series of international symposia with a view to international joint research and the launch of academic exchange programs for faculty and graduate students to promote the globalization of IMSUT. We are looking forward to strengthening ties with top-class U.S., European and Asian research institutions and companies.

Next, as examples of our contributions to the academia in terms of human resource development for the rest of scientific communities, To give some data on the total number of researchers who departed IMSUT to take up positions at other research institutions were 10 in FY 2011, 5 in FY 2012, 5 in FY 2013 and 2 so far for FY 2014. I would like to list the names of our former IMSUT colleagues who have gained positions as Principal Investigators with other institutions during the past 4 years.
( Dr. Masao Nagasaki was appointed as Professor of Integrative Genomics at Tohoku University's Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization Department; Dr. Takeshi Fujii as Professor at the Tokyo Medical University Hachioji Medical Center; Dr. Akiteru Goto as Professor at Akita University Graduate School of Medicine; Dr. Koji Eto as Professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University; Dr. Noriko Gotoh as Professor at the Cancer Research Institute of Kanazawa University; Dr. Jun Kunisawa as a Project Leader at the National Institute of Biomedical Innovation (NIBIO); Dr. Koji Hase as Professor at Keio University Faculty of Pharmacy; Dr. Sachiko Akashi as Professor of Infection and Immunology at Aichi Medical University; Dr. Naohiko Koshikawa as Director of Cancer Biology Department at the Kanagawa Cancer Center Research Institute; and Dr. Satoshi Uematsu as Professor at Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine and School of Medicine.)
I encourage the young researchers among you here today to build on the works of your distinguished predecessors and leverage the knowledge and experience you have gained at IMSUT and the IMSUT Hospital to move on to other institutions within Japan and abroad and be the next generation of leaders in your respective fields of medical science.

Looking back at the past four years, I feel somewhat nostalgic because there are so many fond memories. I recall the faculty retreat, where the IMSUT professors spent a night and day together away from the monthly faculty meeting at usual conference room on the 8th floor of the hospital and exchanged views on the future of IMSUT at the refreshing environment surrounded by nature. The chamber music concert by the NHK Symphony Orchestra for our patients in IMSUT Hospital was another memorable event, where we were also able to take a break for a while from research activities and soaked our minds in beautiful music. The UTokyo Deans' and Directors' Monthly Meeting (Kasho-cho kaigi in Japanese), usually held at Hongo Campus, was held at IMSUT on December 13, 2011, and December 17, 2013, providing a great opportunity to show and introduce the Shirokanedai Campus to those deans and directors who have never visited the campus before. We were honored with the opportunity to welcome the visit of international celebrities including Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand when the Presidents' Council was held at IMSUT on July 18, 2014. We were also the first among the institutions of the University of Tokyo to impose a complete ban on smoking on campus premises, which was implemented in October 1, 2012. We opened a smoking cessation clinic in May the same year with the help of the IMSUT Hospital to help smokers quit smoking. These memorable IMSUT events have been successfully executed because of the full efforts and dedication provided by our IMSUT members, especially those of the faculty members, and administration and PCO team.

As an outgoing Dean of IMSUT, I would like to make a wish or asking you a favor of your donation to MISUT One to Gogo Fund which has been created since last April as I indicated earlier in my presentation. If you have successfully obtained the New Year's Gift or Otoshidama, could you kindly donate some of your Otoshidama to IMSUT One to Gogo Fund for enhancing our efforts to make IMSUT to be a number one Medical Science Institute in the world?

I'm sure you all know, but next April, Professor Murakami will be appointed as the next Dean or 27th Dean for IMSUT. I am looking forward to seeing IMSUT progress to a new phase of IMSUT One to Gogo under Professor Murakami's leadership. That will require your commitment as members of Team IMSUT and the IMSUT Family. I am expecting your continued understanding and cooperation for new era which will be led by Prof. Murakami in coming April.

As part of the IMSUT One to Gogo Initiative, there is also a plan to create and transform the Shirokanedai Campus to become a Specialized International Zone for State-of-the-art Medical Science and Therapy Project. The IMSUT Hospital, which will form the core of the Specialized International Zone if this plan comes true, envisions itself as a next generation of project-based, translational research hospital 10 years from now. The faculty and staff of the hospital have embarked on the preparatory process of strengthening functions necessary to assume a core role in innovative medical development. Collaboration among different professionals is essential in achieving medical innovation today, and from this point of view, the IMSUT Hospital has the advantage of having an environment which allows for spontaneous exchange and interaction across levels of hierarchy and disciplines. I hope it will use this strength in planning and implementing the functional enhancement of the entire hospital. Of course IMSUT will actively engage in the process and support the Hospital's endeavor to become a world-leading, project-based, translational research hospital.

Although the current Executive Committee has three more months left to work, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the faculty, physicians and medical staffs at the hospital, post doctorate fellows, graduate students, technical staff, and administrative staff, for all your support and cooperation as members of the IMSUT Family to take IMSUT and the IMSUT Hospital forward throughout the past four years. Thank you also for the service and commitment you have given to "IMSUT One to Gogo."

I hope this New Year will bring you good health and success, and be fruitful for all of you.


Hiroshi Kiyono, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Dean