Welcome to Institute of Medical Science. We are very pleased to host this first joint symposium between IMSUT and Institut Pasteur. According to the announcement from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, H5N1 type influenza was recently designated as a contagious disease that requires any patient be treated in a hospital isolation ward. Not only in Japan but also worldwide, authorities are on high alert for H5N1 influenza outbreaks. Therefore, I believe that the title of this symposium, "Battling Infectious Diseases," is quite timely. As you all know, both institutes, IMSUT and Institute of Pasteur, are renowned for their contributions to research into infectious diseases and both trace their heritage back to pioneering European scientists of the 19th century. As is obvious from its name, Institut Pasteur was established in 1887 by Louis Pasteur. The lineage of the Institute of Medical Science traces back to Robert Koch, in whose laboratory Shibasaburo Kitasato, who founded IMSUT in 1892, was trained before returning to Japan.
Some 30-40 years ago, as the threat of infectious diseases seemed to recede, both institutes branched out into research on other significant medical threats facing society, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. However, with the emergence of AIDS, followed by the threats of SARS, Avian Influenza, resurgent tuberculosis and malaria, it has become clear that infectious diseases continue to threaten not only the developing countries, but prosperous, developed nations, as well. Smallpox has been eradicated and polio may soon join it, but the experiences of the past few decades have made clear that microbial diseases will continue to emerge, with potentially catastrophic results both in terms of lives lost and economies disrupted.
Nevertheless I would like to point out that to ensure our present and future, we must continue to play a pioneering role in the broader field of medical science. I have learned from Institut Pasteur's home page that their scientists are carrying out excellent studies in various fields of medical and life science including cell biology, immunology, neurobiology, microbiology, genomics, structural biology etc. Scientists here at IMSUT also share a keen interest in these fields, with infectious diseases and cancer the major, visible targets of our research.
Regarding infection, it is obviously a matter of international importance that institutes such as our two cooperate and speed the response to the emerging threats. But given the diversity of medical research at our two institutes, the opportunities for cooperation extend well beyond the field of infectious diseases. I've already mentioned cancer and immunology, and I would be remiss not to mention the genome-based approaches being pioneered in our Human Genome Center. Still this list of potential areas for cooperation is by no means exhaustive, and our scientists must get to know each other and explore for themselves the areas of complementarity where cooperation can be fruitful. Along these lines, IMSUT and the Institut Pasteur organized this symposium. Moreover, we will be signing a formal Agreement of Academic Cooperation to pave the way for such mutual collaborations. Mutual collaboration includes not only interaction of senior scientists but also training young scientists in this field in an international atmosphere possibly by exchanging postdoctoral fellows.
To inaugurate this cooperation, we are extremely honored today to welcome Dr. Alice Dautry, the new director of the Institut Pasteur. I also welcome all the scientists from abroad and domestic participants.
April 18, 2006