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Message from the Dean

Todai Forum 2011 "Forum on Systems Biology & Genomic Medicine"-Infection and Immunity: Beyond the Future in the Control of Infectious Disease- Opening Remarks in Paris

2011-10-18

Mesdames et Messieurs, Bonjour !
Today I would like to thank the Director of Institut Pasteur, Dr. Alice Dautry for her steadfast cooperation and warm support in partnering with us to hold this joint forum on Infection and Immunity here in this Institute, one event within the larger Todai Forum.

The word, "Tōdai," is the abbreviated name in Japanese for the University of Tokyo, and the Todai Forum, as many of you have already heard, is an opportunity for the University of Tokyo, to offer a glimpse of the depth, breadth and cutting-edge nature of its academic endeavors. Since the first time it was held in the year 2000, the Todai Forum has been held at roughly two-year intervals, each time in a different country. The University likes to hold this forum in countries where we already have significant partnerships, or ties that we hope to expand. The forum here at Institut Pasteur, appropriate to its historic venue, will focus on the issue at the forefront of research into infection and immunity.

We at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo are particularly happy that France was chosen as Todai's partner for this year’s Todai Forum. There have been informal contacts between our institutes for a very long time. Prof. Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, who retired from our institute just a few years ago did his postdoctoral work here, and at the time Shibasaburō Kitasato founded the Institute for Infectious Diseases, our institute's fore-runner, we together with you and the Koch Institute in Berlin were one of only three such advanced institutes in the world. A bust of Louis Pasteur still graces the meeting room adjoining my office. And thus it was only natural that all these informal contacts would lead to a more formal connection, which was initiated in 2006 with the formal signing a Memorandum of Understanding between our two institutes. Since then we have held several joint events, frequently invited scientists from each other's institutes to speak at various symposia. At least two of our graduate students have gone on to pursue postdoctoral research here. Today's symposium is one more concrete result of our close relationship.

Next year, 2012, will be the 120-year anniversary of the founding of our fore-runner institute, the Institute for Infectious Diseases, and the 45-year anniversary of our reorganization into the Institute of Medical Science in 1967. Simple arithmetic tells us that 2017 will be the 125- and 50-year anniversaries, respectively. No elite institute can allow itself to rest on its laurels. In fact, as great as some of our historic and current achievements have been, we wish to consider all of this as only an incubation period and launching pad for greater things to come. We will use these upcoming anniversaries to launch our 125-50 Project, in which we will rethink our institute's structure and also launch a non-governmental Research and Clinical Foundation to support our institute's work.
Today's forum with you of the Institut Pasteur provides one more opportunity for us to reflect on the current status of our achievements and measure them against a global standard.

Today we are looking forward to many fine talks, both by established scientists at the forefront of their fields, and by younger students for whom we have many high expectations. I wish to thank all the speakers who have agreed to tell us about their research today, as well as the many administrative staff who worked intensive, long hours behind-the-scenes to organize and making today's forum possible.

I would like to wish all of you very productive interactions during the forum.

Thank you for your attention.
Merci.