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Message from the Dean

International Student Research Forum 2011 Opening Remarks


Welcome to the International Student Research Forum 2011.
We are so happy to be able to receive all of you and see your eagerness for the exchange of both culture and scientific knowledge.

The International Student Research Forum grew out of the Sino-Japan Student Forum first held on our Shirokanedai Tokyo campus in 2005. One of the hallmark features of this forum even from that very first meeting is that we try to involve the students as much as possible in all aspects of the organizing and running of this forum. We did this at Prof. Seiki's suggestion, and not only did it give the students valuable experience for organizing such meetings in the future but it showed us that they were fully up to do it. I am told that the GUCAS administrators were also impressed that such a system could work, but ever since we have tried to let the students do as much as possible. Subsequently, various universities have participated, but the universities that have qualified for core-member status by actually hosting the forum have been our initial partner, GUCAS, as well as the other two universities represented here today, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Griffith University in Australia. We are pleased to welcome you all to Tokyo this year, GUCAS for the 3rd time, UNMC for the 2nd time, and Griffith University for your first time here in Tokyo.

In this time of tight money and busy schedules, it has not always been easy. We want to acknowledge GUCAS for stepping forward last year to host despite their very busy schedule. Our students came back very enthusiastic. Also, UNMC has worked hard behind the scenes to promote and stabilize this still-young forum. And Griffith university put on a wonderful meeting when they hosted two years ago.

Now having looked back, I want to turn around and look forward. When I was elected to become dean last year, my election platform was IMSUT GoGo, and this International Student Research Forum is implicitly a part of that platform. The word "go" in Japananese means "five," and appropriately there are five planks to IMSUT GoGo. But before describing the planks, let me state that the impetus to the whole concept is the need to constantly improve and move forward to reach the pinnacle of biomedical research in the world. Next year is the 120th anniversary of the founding of our institute's predecessor, the Institute for Infectious Diseases, and the 45th anniversary since we reorganized to become the Institute of Medical Science. Simple arithmetic tell us that in 2017, it will be the 125th and 50th anniversaries, respectively. To continue and improve on our elite scientific tradition, we need new facilities, new organizational structures, and strengthened international ties, with our students and postdocs being seeded to other elite universities throughout the world, and likewise, the top foreign-born scientists from throughout the world choosing to call IMSUT home and building up their laboratories here.

So briefly, the 5 planks of IMSUT Gogo are

1) Recruit the world's top scientists
2) Recruit the world's top clinical researchers
3) It is one thing to say we'll recruit the world's top biomedical and clinical researchers, and another thing altogether to actually do it. To do it, one thing is clear. We cannot afford to depend on government funding alone. Government funds will remain important, but we must establish a Research Clinical Foundation (RCF) that will allow us receive private funds at the same time. The national universities of Japan underwent quasi-privatisation a few years ago, and we must make use of this situation to expand our support.
4) We need to improve our disease-oriented research support system with new facilities. I have proposed the building of a new experimental animal research facility along with related research laboratories that will be capable of housing gene-manipulated and iPS/Stem cell-based experimental animals with the latest technologies that will fuel the development of the next wave of novel disease preventatives and therapies. By the time we complete this, our hope is to establish a global hub-stile laboratory system where scientists and students from all over the world can be housed in this new facility.
5) IMSUT itself must be transformed into an internationally friendly top medical science institute. This is one of the most important planks of the IMSUT Gogo slogan. The world's top scientists will only choose to come if they can feel comfortable and be productive here. Hosting international forums such as this is vital for creating such an atmosphere, and also for measuring what remains to be done. We very much hope that all participants will find this forum worthwhile, and let us know what we need to improve.

Finally, I'd like to thank all the people who worked to organize this forum, both in our institute, and the coordinators in your institutes. Through many people's efforts, this forum has come together.

I hope you all learn a lot from each other, and I look forward to discussions with Prof. Xiāngbīn ZHU of GUCAS, Mr. Keith Swarts of UNMC, and Mr. Thomas Toh and Prof. Zhihong XU of Griffith University on and off over the coming two days.