Message from the JSDB president, June 2019
At the general assembly held during the 52nd annual meeting in Osaka (May 14 - 17), I was formally appointed as the president of JSDB, taking over from the immediate past president, Naoto Ueno.
The JSDB, founded in 1968, celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago and is recognized as one of the leading societies in the field of developmental biology. I am very honored to have been appointed to steer the JSDB, with its longstanding tradition and high caliber of research, for the next two years.
I first became a member of JSDB in 1984 when I was a graduate student and attended the 17th annual meeting in Kumamoto. Since then, I have been fortunate to be able to conduct my research within the field of developmental biology for 35 years, together with many dear colleagues in the community. The organisms and subjects I studied have changed a lot over the years, from working with rat/mouse, chicken and now zebrafish/medaka, to examining epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in organogenesis, primary induction, axis formation and more recently epigenetics. For me, JSDB has been like a foster parent in my research career, and I think it is now time for me to give back to the society, the scientific community and my colleagues.
However, I feel a big responsibility rests on my shoulders as we all face growing hardships in our research circumstances, such increased pressure on basic research through evaluations, and difficulties to obtain funding. And the most serious problem we are facing is the dropping numbers of PhD-course students in nearly all Japanese universities over the past decade, which has in turn affected the activity of many basic research communities and societies. Developmental biology has also been transformed in remarkable ways over the past 20 years, incorporating disciplines of molecular biology, cell biology, bioimaging, mechanobiology, genome science and theoretical biology, and at the same time, giving rise to various new fields such as stem cell biology and regeneration biology. To continue facing these dynamic changes in research environment and trends, we need to return to the core spirit of developmental biology. Many of you likely knocked on the door of developmental biology because you were fascinated by the beauty of embryogenesis and organogenesis, and is the reason why we cannot stop trying to understand how embryogenesis and organogenesis unfolds so perfectly (i.e. beautifully) under noisy biological conditions, and what are the mechanisms at work behind these scenes. These fundamental questions are what continuously stimulate our imagination and provide us with never-ending research stories. To address these fundamental questions, we should be hungry and sometimes foolish (as in the famous speech given by Steve Jobs) by incorporating and adopting new technologies and perspectives from other disciplines with our eyes wide open.
The main task of this academic society is to create and maintain a platform in which members can freely exchange ideas and data in an international environment. To achieve this, the JSDB should continue to uphold the current policy of globalization, and collaborate with other related societies around the world. Together with the new Board members ( http://www.jsdb.jp/about/organization-english2019.html), I will strive to make JSDB even more attractive to young people and encourage younger members to get involved in JSDB events, both international and local ones, to give them many opportunities to freely exchange their ideas and the fruits of their research, which will eventually lead to their success in their research and career. Your feedback will always be welcome.
Professor at The University of Tokyo