The Institute of Medical Science, The University Of Tokyo

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Message from the Dean

Opening comments to the Annual IMSUT Alumni Reunion

2013-05-31

Thank you today for attending the Annual IMSUT Founding Commemorative Events.
As you know, in 2017, it will be the 125th anniversary of the founding of our forerunner, the Institute for Infectious Disease (IID) which was established by Dr. Shibasaburo Kitasato, and it will also be the 50th anniversary of our reorganization into the current Institute of Medical Science (IMSUT). To date, many excellent faculty members, administration staff and young researchers including postdocs and graduate students have played important roles by making extensive contributions in strengthening the foundation and continuous growth of IMSUT. Please accept my heartiest appreciation on the splendid achievements so far of IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital, which depend absolutely on our fellow alumni's hard work.
Now, let me introduce what is going on in IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital. Prof. Motoharu Seiki in the Division of Cancer Cell Research who has been a leader in the field of tumor and cancer biology and also dedicated his time and energy to the leadership of the institute for a total of 8 years (4 years as Vice-Dean and 4 years as Dean) retired in March of this year. We would like to take this opportunity to express again our sincere appreciation to Prof. Seiki. On the other hand, Dr. Kaori Muto in the Department of Public Policy and Dr. Hirotoshi Tanaka whom we welcomed to the Center for Antibody and Vaccine that has played an important role in our hospital's translational research were each promoted to professors last year and joined the IMSUT Senior Faculty Members. We very much expect that the two professors will make big contributions to the further development of IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital, the former in the field of research/medical ethics which provides an important basis for our cutting-edge basic and clinical research and the latter in the field of antibody drug and vaccine development which is one of our hospital's missions. In addition, as our current executive body started its second term in April, we braced ourselves and kept working toward the better operation of IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital. Prof. Manabe took over the chair of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences and started making an important contribution as a member of the Department Heads' Committee. In the Administration Office, we experienced the first personnel rotation since its organizational reformation (reformation into the 3 divisions; Administrative Affairs Division, Research Support Division and Hospital Division) which was the first mission of the IMSUT One To Gogo Project, and welcomed Ms. Kikue Konno as General Manager and Mr. Yuji Hirano as Manager of the Administrative Affairs Division.
We are trying to establish a new organization and system to become the kind of next generation, international-standard, internationally attractive and cutting edge medical science research institute. We don't wish just to look back on our history and celebrate it; rather we should consider all of this as only an incubation period and launching pad for greater historical achievements and continuous growth to come while respecting our tradition.

We have been discussing the IMSUT One to Gogo Project among the Faculty Members' Committee, Executive Committee and Department Heads' Committee, and reported its progress at last year's Alumni Reunion. 2013 is the year we complete planning for the project and make a step toward its actual implementation.
Here are the 4 important components of the plan. Let me talk about each of these individually.
1. Establishment of IMSUT Foundation
As you all know, the national university system underwent quasi-privatization starting in April of 2004. With every passing year since then, as a part of the University of Tokyo we receive a decreasing amount of earmarked support funding from the government. But notice that I said QUASI-privatization. The word "quasi" means that it is really not complete. Compared to private universities, our fund-raising and operational flexibility continue to be crippled by regulations, even as we compete for the best scientists and students. This is the problem that the IMSUT Foundation will address: how do we raise funds and how do we create a flexible academic operation system to attract the very best scientists so that we can outcompete not only other Japanese universities, but also places like Stanford, Harvard and MIT? Funding is a key, and the IMSUT Foundation will allow us to adapt to the decreasing amounts of earmarked government funding as well as provide us with flexibilities in the productive operation of IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital for advanced basic and clinical medical science, and furthermore, allow us to give back some of our profits to the University of Tokyo and contribute to the promotion of medical science research in Japan and the world.

2. Blue Print for Platinum West Re-development
Secondly, let me introduce you to the blue print for the Platinum West Re-development which is necessary for the Shirokane Campus to become more international and act as a global hub for interdisciplinary/integrated research and translational research. The buildings along our west side are getting old. Each year earthquake building standards continue to rise, but many of the buildings are 30 or 40 years old. This is true not only of the laboratories, but also of the University of Tokyo International Lodge and the Nurse's Residence. We have an opportunity to create a much better facility that would answer many needs not only for IMSUT, but could serve as valuable international hub research facilities for scientists throughout the University of Tokyo, Japan and the rest of world.

3. Finalizing of IMSUT Action Plans
To finalize action plans for evolving IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital into the world's leading top medical science institute and coupled hospital, we are working, with promising research fields in mind, on finding more efficient and flexible operating structures for the 3 research departments (Microbiology and Immunology, Cancer Biology and Basic Medical Sciences), the 6 research facilities (Human Genome Center, Center for Experimental Medicine and Systems Biology, Advanced Clinical Research Center, Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, International Research Center for infectious Diseases and International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccines), the Medical Proteomics Laboratory, the Laboratory Animal Research Center, the Amami Laboratory of Injurious Animals and the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics.

4. Human Resource Cultivation in IMSUT ~ Approach to Graduate Education as a university affiliated research institute of the University of Tokyo ~
IMSUT has a good track record as a training organization of researchers with a focus on graduate education. Although the University of Tokyo can be proud of us at its Shirokane Campus and we, are already providing an ideal academic and research environment for young people who aim to become medical science researchers, we still continue working to find a way to systematically provide more attractive multi-disciplinary training/research environment. We are seeking a global standard multi-disciplinary education with a core of medical science and an effective way to get actively engaged in advanced medical science education as a university affiliated research institute with its own hospital.
The above are the 4 key points for the attainment of the IMSUT One to Gogo Project that we are now promoting. We sincerely appreciate your continuous support and additional guidance.
IMSUT has had its own affiliated hospital since around the founding of our forerunner, IID, by Dr. Shibasaburo Kitasato, and has been making a social contribution by applying research findings to the development of novel preventatives and therapies with antiserum and vaccines as well as conducting basic research into identifying pathogens in pure culture. There was also a time in the past when the IID covered most of the operating costs and research expenses by engaging in the business of manufacturing and selling of blood serum and vaccines as well as holding training sessions on bacteriology for sanitary technicians etc..

Learning from this history, we would like to contribute through the IMSUT Foundation to medical science research and the development of human resources within and outside Japan as well as IMSUT, IMSUT Hospital and the University of Tokyo. We are going to promote the IMSUT One to Gogo Project including the establishment of the IMSUT Foundation with our current IMSUT members united together, as we obtain the understanding and cooperation of our alumni. We hope the network of the IMSUT alumni society will be strengthened and its function will be improved through this occasion.

Finally, let me close my speech by asking for your active cooperation and continuous support for IMSUT, and for your sharing of the "IMSUT One to Gogo" spirit between us, as that is essential in addition to active efforts of current IMSUT members to continue on our path toward becoming a top world medical science institute. Thank you very much for your kind attention.