The Dean's 2012 New Year's Address

The Dean's 2012 New Year's Address


Members of the Institute or IMSUT, thank-you for gathering here today as we welcome in the start of a New Year together. I hope you have all been able to spend a peaceful time with friends and loved ones over the New Year holidays, recovering from last year's hectic activities, and reviving your spirits as we face 2012 together.

To start out this New Year's address, I want to thank those gathered here today-faculty members of this institute and hospital, post-docs, graduate students, technical staff, hospital staff, and members of the administrative office-for your tireless efforts over the past year to advance cutting-edge medical research, offering the hope and reality of advanced therapies for patients suffering from all manner of illnesses.

With heart-felt respect, I ask you to continue forging ahead this year through your day-in and day-out efforts and cooperation aimed at perpetuating this institute's ceaseless flow and realization of ideas, or as our institute's first director, Dr. Shibasabur? Kitasato, put it, "the development of preventatives and treatments for disease through investigations into the truth, targeting practical science" and "real-world learning."

Starting with last year's Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11 and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, we faced various violent shocks and hardships over the past year. Throughout the difficulties, however, upholding the "Spirit of the Scientist" through our cutting-edge research and medical care, all were able to contribute to the reconstruction through "wa" (group harmony) and "tsunagari" (inter-connections) epitomized by our shared bonds ("kizuna").

This year too, as we mutually recall those who passed away in the natural disaster or the frame of mind of those still suffering its after-effects, we must contribute to the reconstruction process through our contributions to medical science and treatment.

This thought was driven home while looking at a year-end lighting-up of Rikuzentakata City's lone pine tree. Let's all give it our best.

Not just Japan but on a global scale as well, the year 2011 was characterized by natural disasters, political upheaval and economic turmoil that greatly impacted universities and society in general.

On the bright side, the achievement of our Japanese women, Team "Nadeshiko Japan" in winning the FIFA Women's World Cup inspired us at IMSUT with the importance of pursuing our goals tenaciously as we embark on 2012. "Nadeshiko Japan" reminded us of the magnificence of being Number-one and the importance of the effort aimed at reaching that status. Athletes with outstanding individual skill and a staff supporting them behind-the-scenes all aimed at the number-one spot in the world and advanced together as one, taught us how important teamwork is.

Let me ask you: speaking metaphorically, how do IMSUT's assets differ in any important way from those of Nadeshiko Japan?
IMSUT and IMSUT Hospital are composed of stunning individual intellects pursuing medical research driven by intellectual curiosity. I see any differences as minor. With top-notch scientists standing on the leading edges of their fields worldwide, it is incredibly important for everybody supporting them to advance together as one toward the uppermost rank in the world. I want all of us gathered here now-the laboratories, the hospital, the administrative office-starting now as Team IMSUT in 2012 to advance together as one, possessed with the "IMSUT One to Gogo" Project.
Now, let me introduce to you "IMSUT One to Gogo". As you may know, this year, 2012, is the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Institute for Infectious Disease, the forerunner of IMSUT, by Dr. Shibasaburo Kitasato. Further, it should be noted that it will also be the 45th anniversary of the reorganization and renaming of our institute to IMSUT by our wonderful, far-sighted predecessors.
However, we don't wish to just look back on our history and celebrate it but rather 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 shall transmit our research achievements in the fields of cancer/tumor biology, infectious diseases, immunology and other disease oriented basic research with cutting-edge technologies such as genome-based medicine and iPS-based regenerative medicine, which can lead to novel preventions and treatments for diseases and can help patients all over the world who are suffering from intractable diseases such as infectious diseases, cancer or immunological diseases, and continuously work together to advance our institute to become the kind of next generation of international-standard, internationally attractive and cutting edge medical science research institute.
I take a great deal of pride in our senior and young basic and clinical researchers in the fields such as infectious diseases, immunology, cancer, genome and regenerative medicine. However, although they are promoting world-class research, our institute has a weakness as an organization and unfortunately cannot yet be called a world number one institute. We are therefore called on to work together unceasingly as IMSUT family members to advance our institute to become the officially-recognized World NO.1 both as an organization and as an institute.
To do this, we shall start working to establish a new organization and system toward the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Institute for Infectious Disease and the 50th anniversary of the reorganization of our institute in 2017. The key words are "Number One", "125" and "50". "Five" in Japanese is pronounced "Go" as you know.
As IMSUT team members let us promote this "IMSUT One to Gogo" project as well as the "IMSUT Gogo" slogan which I introduced in my inauguration speech last April together .
As a kick off for this, we held a two-day overnight IMSUT faculty member retreat late this past December and had a chance to conduct a frank exchange of views and discussion for the promotion of the "IMSUT One to Gogo" project.
The 5 key articles for the "IMSUT One to Gogo" are just what I introduced to you last April here in this Auditorium. Let me briefly introduce them again for reaffirmation.

1. Recruitment of top-quality basic scientists who are able to contribute to the development of novel prevention and treatment of disease through a search for truth.

2. Recruitment of first-class clinical scientists who can lead the way in promoting a bridge between medical science at the bench and the bedside.

3. Creation of an IMSUT supporting system, Research and Clinical Foundation (RCF).

4. Improvement of a Bio-resource bank system including an open general research center building for experimental animal model for human disease which supports the continuous growth of disease-oriented research.

5. Transformation of IMSUT to become an internationally friendly and attractive top medical science institute.

We have already had vigorous discussions on the 1st and the 2nd articles at the faculty meetings and decided to promote Dr. Kawaguchi who is expected to lead the next generation of the research on infectious diseases and welcomed him last October as a professor to our basic research group. In addition, we also welcome Dr. Takekawa from Nagoya University as a professor this coming April, expecting him to promote a search for truth in diseases based on basic research.

For clinical researchers, we newly welcomed in July the promising translational researcher, Prof. Todo, who has been promoting innovative neurological surgery based on viral molecular-biological research, and also it was just decided in December that we would promote Dr. Nagamura to professor who made a contribution to our hospital's TR, clinical trial, medical safety management etc. and played a chief supporter role in the hospital's special status of being located in an institute.

We strongly hope that these four fresh and promising professors in both basic and clinical research will take the initiative and work together with us to promote "IMSUT One to Gogo"
We have the Action Scenario set by President Hamada, "Moving the forest: A World-leading Center of Knowledge", but our institute also needs to move "the forest of medical and life science" which its tradition has cultivated, and then disseminate this foundation of fundamental and clinical research base and research achievements that can be used in the treatment of patients, and contribute to the effort of mankind in its fight against diseases.
To achieve this, it is very important to construct an environment which promotes basic/clinical dual-directional and synergistic research, "Bench to Bed, Bed to Bench". We now need to deepen and tighten the relationship between IMSUT and the IMSUT hospital, and promote this integration as the only university affiliated research institute in Japan with its own hospital engaging our mission of bench to bed and bed to bench-based medical science. With this as our key feature, in 2012, we are going to take the first big step together toward the transformation of IMSUT and the hospital into an internationally attractive and competitive cutting edge center for medical science.
With that thought in mind, finally I want to tell you about the dazzling new IMSUT sign that was put up in front of the main gate to our institute. I want to express my appreciation to Hospital Director Imai, Prof. Furukawa and everybody in the administrative office for getting that sign erected.

The sign has a round shape, but it encompasses three thoughts.

1. The round shape signifies Earth. And IMSUT's name is listed at the top. Thus we are at the "Top of the World," or at least on the "Road to the Top."

2. In Japanese, we call a round shape "wa" and the "wa" also expresses "和 (wa)", group harmony and balance, and furthermore, "絆" (kizuna), the ties that bond us.

This signifies that TEAM IMSUT will advance as a team, a single unit in its "IMSUT One to GoGo" campaign.

The "gan" of "ichigan" means "round shape" in Japanese.

3. IMSUT Hospital is listed at the very top of the sign, but as mentioned repeatedly, from its inception IMSUT has pursued "real-world learning based on investigations into the truth, in other words, "learning from disease so as to prevent or treat it."

From this perspective, it is important that the institute and hospital compose a single entity.

With that constantly in mind as we advance medical scientific research, IMSUT hospital came to listed at the very top.

Finally, to all the members of TEAM IMSUT/the IMSUT Family gathered here today, as well as the various laboratory, hospital and administrative personnel who could not attend today on account of their official duties, I pray that 2012 will be a wonderful year full of health for you and your loved ones.

Thank-you for your attention.