I have been appointed President of the Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS) as of June 2023, succeeding the former President Dr. Michisuke Yuzaki. Although my efforts and talents are limited, with your support and guidance, I will do my best for the further development and sustainability of our society. I would like to express my beliefs upon inauguration.
First, I would like to share the current status and challenges of our society. Next year will mark 50 years since the Society was founded in 1974 and renamed the Japan Neuroscience Society in 1991 after establishing its bylaw. In April 2023, the Society transitioned to a General Incorporated Association in order to enhance social trust and ensure fairer management. In the future, we will continue our activities by pursuing a transition to a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation. As this is our first year of incorporation, we anticipate many changes in operational aspects. We will inform our members in a timely manner to ensure a smooth transition. We also introduced the councilor system, and 100 councilors were elected. The councilors consist of a diverse group of members, including young and mid-career members, who are expected to deliberate on important matters at the general assembly of the corporation’s members and contribute to the management of our society. Since the Board of Directors is elected from the councilors, we hope that more members will stand for a candidate of councilors for the next term, when the number of councilors is scheduled to increase. In addition, the time for renewal of the contract with the journal publisher for Neuroscience Research is approaching. The Journal Contract Working Group established under the Future Planning Committee will play a central role in discussing this issue, and through discussions at the Board of Directors meeting, we will make every effort to ensure the continuation and development of our journal. We will continue to implement the policies of the previous Board of Directors and committees, including these various issues.
Next, I would like to share a vision. I have been thinking again about the role of our Society. One of the core projects of the Society is to hold the JNS annual meeting. In addition to the significance of the meeting, such as presentations by researchers, exchanges through serious discussions, and fostering young researchers, I believe that the meeting provides an opportunity to learn new fields. For example, medical schools have core departments such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, etc., but only a few universities have established a department of neuroscience. As the largest "neuroscience" society with approximately 6,000 researchers from a wide range of fields and backgrounds, from basic to clinical, I would like our Society to be a place where students, young researchers, and new researchers from different fields who want to learn neuroscience can choose our Society, and to be a friendly society for new members from different fields. We believe that such activities will further lead to the improvement and development of neuroscience in our country.
We also believe that it is important to continue and promote outreach activities to society and advocacy activities to political and business worlds regarding neuroscience. Topics such as treating brain diseases, for which there is a strong social demand, and artificial intelligence, which has seen remarkable progress in recent years, tend to be covered by the media. On the other hand, it is important to make continuous efforts to promote understanding of the fact that long-term support for basic research that explores scientific principles leads to applied research, and of the uniqueness of neuroscience that studies the brain, which is the foundation of human activity. From these perspectives, we will provide continuous support for high school students participating in the International Brain Science Olympic project “Brain Bee” and collaborate with the NPO "Brain Century Promotion Conference" and the “Union of Brain Science Associations in Japan”.
The Society promotes awareness of diversity in age, sex, and nationality, but diversity in research fields is also important to achieve sustainability. Neuroscience includes interdisciplinary research with informatics and other fields, as well as research on psychiatric and neurological disorders. We will continue to promote academic diversity through efforts to increase the number of domestic and international members with a wide range of backgrounds. From the perspective of diversity, we should continue to promote collaboration with related basic and clinical neuroscience societies and industries, as well as internationalization, which has been a key focus of our activity. In addition to the collaboration with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), efforts for collaboration in Asia (Japan, China, Korea, etc.) are in progress. We believe that our society will play an important role in establishing Asia's position as the third pole of neuroscience after Europe and the United States. We experience an increase in the number of regular overseas members and overseas participants in our meetings and expect to further growth in membership in the future. We hope to achieve sustainability in our society through strengthening collaboration and diversity.
Finally, from the view of "Our Society," I would like to think together about what each member expects from the JNS and how it should be. I believe that our society is expected to play many roles, such as presenting and discussing research at annual meetings and in the society's journal, establishing research collaborations and career paths through interactions among members. On the other hand, from an individual perspective, I would like to make efforts so that when looking back in the future, one will be glad to have been a member of our society. In recent years, we have been hearing about a decline in the number of researchers, a decline in Japan's position in scientific publications in general, and other negative topics for academic societies and the environment surrounding researchers and their activities. As a member of "Our Society," I would like to ask for your support and cooperation in the management of our society in order to create an environment where research activities can be more easily conducted and neuroscience is better understood and supported by society, not only for current members but also for the future generation of members.
Three years have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic and the annual meeting is going back to normal, so there will be many opportunities to meet in person. I look forward to hearing your opinions.
Koji Yamanaka, MD, PhD.