Message from President

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“Cooperatively reshaping society for the new era”

  In 2021, the Biophysical Society of Japan (BSJ) is celebrating its 61st year since its establishment in 1960. For more than half a century, the society has played a vital role as a platform for academic exchange of biophysics research and knowledge in Japan. While emphasizing the international exchange of ideas since its establishment, the society has produced many presidents and council members for the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB). In Asia, members of the society have established the Asian Biophysics Association (ABA) with associated societies, thereby making significant contributions in promotion of biophysics in Asia. Consequently, overseas researchers, including those in Asia, have participated in annual conferences held by the society. In 2024, BSJ and IUPAB will jointly conduct the IUPAB International Biophysics Congress (IBC) in Kyoto. This will further strengthen the role of the society as an important platform for biophysical research.
  However, owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the society has been exposed to a major change in its operating environment. Like other academic conferences, the 2020 annual conference of BSJ was held online and will be again in 2021. We have suddenly lost the landscape of the annual conference that we had previously taken for granted, such as lively discussions at symposia, enthusiastic poster sessions, social interaction with all participants, and dinners lasting until midnight. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of the annual conference executive committees, we have been able to continue to provide opportunities for academic and information exchange through online annual conferences. Nevertheless, we cannot provide the same environment as before.
  Some social changes have been greatly accelerated by the current pandemic. Remote activities will certainly be established in various academic research situations. Regarding the operations of the society, board meetings are now being held online, and the operations are implemented efficiently without the physical presence of the committee members. Even in academic exchange, online conferences have greatly reduced spatial constraints, allowing us to hold symposia that can be easily attended by overseas participants. Furthermore, access to recorded lectures can significantly reduce time constraints. This may accelerate the segregation of conferences into online and on-site events, which aim for efficient academic exchange and allow close exchange with a sense of unity, respectively. Certainly, such a new system has many issues that must be carefully considered and discussed. However, I would like to emphasize that these changes in the environment that we are facing today are irreversible, and we must exercise flexibility to adapt.
  I will discuss the future of academic exchange with the board members. Viewing the new environment resulting from the current pandemic as an opportunity to introduce new systems, I would like to consider the future and structure of the academic exchange. The seeds for the future were sown during the tenure of the former president, Yoshie Harada. By introducing a subgroup system to promote bottom-up exchange in each field of biophysics, she had already begun online exchanges. While nurturing these new initiatives, we will seek a grand design of a platform for academic exchange suitable for the new coronavirus era.
  However, it is necessary to reflect on the core identity of the organization when introducing such a new policy and system. Certainly, the philosophy underlying the establishment of the BSJ is “to describe and understand life in terms of physics and chemistry.” In addition, the merit of the society lies in an open atmosphere of mutual respect regardless of age and title, a culture that accepts entry from other fields and alternate ways of thinking, and an attitude of delighting in open discussion with mutual achievements. I will remain mindful of the inheritance and development of this “identity of the BSJ” when considering the new system. For this, I must exchange opinions with the members. A society is not something that is given, but it is an organization that we create ourselves. The successful reshaping of our society will require the thoughts and efforts of each member. Therefore, I would like to encourage the cooperation and active participation of all our members in our society’s activities to shape a new society for a new era.

June 19, 2021
Hiroyuki Noji
President, the Biophysical Society of Japan
Professor, Department of Applied Chemistry, The University of Tokyo

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