Biomedical science workshop weaves closer ties between OIST and Kyoto University
From November 2nd to 4th, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) hosted the first OIST-Kyoto University Joint Workshop, kickstarting a new workshop series that will bring networking opportunities and promises greater research ties between the two institutions.
This year’s joint seminar, titled ‘Challenges in Biomedical Complexities’, highlighted the pivotal research occurring at OIST and Kyoto University, in areas including neuroscience, immunity and molecular biology. Its focus was specifically on the difficulties of understanding the volatile, uncertain and ambiguous nature of biomedical science, from the action of tiny molecules to larger body systems.
The workshop featured a symbolic textile theme, promoting the traditional artistic cultures of Okinawa and Kyoto. The Okinawan textile, Chibana hanaori was exhibited outside the event venue and could also be seen in the workshop’s poster background, along with the Kyoto textile, Nishijin ori.
The symbolism of the textiles was referenced during the opening remarks from one of the organizers, Professor Akihiro Kusumi, who leads the Membrane Cooperativity Unit at OIST and previously worked at Kyoto University.
He said, “In this workshop, we are trying to find a platform for researchers to discuss common interests in biomedical complexity. As symbolized on our poster, we hope to form a network of scientists that is interwoven like a textile.”
Prof. Kusumi also acknowledged the efforts of three other organizers, Professor Dai Watanabe and Professor Osamu Takeuchi, from Kyoto University and Professor Tadashi Yamamoto from OIST, in bringing the workshop to fruition.
Before beginning the scientific talks, the Provost of Kyoto University, Professor Kazuhiro Iwai, also gave an opening speech, where he emphasized the importance of scientific exchange as an avenue that could lead to future collaborations.
“I hope that this workshop will open up new relations between Kyoto University and OIST,” he said.
Across the three days of the workshop, 17 established Professors from Kyoto University and OIST took turns to present their latest research, with each talk followed by a short Q&A to promote further discussion and explore new ideas. Topics of the talks covered a huge breadth of biomedical science, including the role of immune cells, communication of growth factors and the assembly mechanism of the poxvirus.
12 promising young scientists, six from each institute, also had the opportunity to give short talks on their research.
At the end of the first day, a networking dinner was held, with pre-dinner drinks attended by Dr. Peter Gruss, CEO and President of OIST, and Dr. Nagahiro Minato, the President of Kyoto University.
President Gruss remarked: “It gives me great pleasure that that two of the leading universities in Japan, Kyoto University and OIST, are meeting here together in order to exchange views in biomedical complexity. I believe there is much to learn from each other. There’s also much to gain from each other. And hence, I’m very happy to have you all here. And I hope very much that this is only the first meeting of many to come.”
President Minato commented: “I am personally honored to be here in this exciting event. The recent progress that has been made in life science technology is amazing. However, our global society continues to be confronted by diverse medical and health problems, such as emerging pandemics, mental disorders, and a wide variety of aging-related diseases. We must therefore continue to strengthen our efforts to contribute to the welfare of global society. I believe that close collaboration between OIST and Kyoto University will lead not only to the mutual development of science on both sides, but also to the discovery of solutions to address and overcome issues that continuously threaten us, our health and our lives.”
After talks on the second day, the participants from Kyoto University were given a tour of the OIST campus, showcasing the state-of-the-art research facilities available to OIST scientists.
The workshop ended on the third day with closing remarks from the OIST Dean of Research, Professor Nicholas Luscombe, and Professor Michiyuki Matsuda from Kyoto University, who expressed their hope in the continuation of the relationship between the two universities.
OIST and Kyoto University have now agreed to hold a second workshop focused on the biomedical field, at Kyoto University, which will be more thematic and will involve more young scientists. Furthermore, a joint workshop is being planned for next year, on the topic of mathematical sciences.
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