I’m writing to say hello and introduce myself, Hidenori Ichijo, Dean, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Tokyo. (hereinafter, this is called TODAI YAKUGAKU).
This might sound a bit candid at the beginning, but recently I have received some compliments that TODAI YAKUGAKU is the best in Japan. The evaluations could have been passed along due to many different aspects of our institution including the excellent students from all over the country, our high-quality research, and the skilled management and cooperation of faculty and staff. Of course, I’m aware that a large part of the compliments may come just out of politeness and therefore I shouldn't allow them to go to my head. On the other hand, however, I’m honored to be part of our organization, one of the best life science education and research institutions, and I feel the weight of the responsibility that comes with its status.
A question one might ask is "What are the key aspects of TODAI YAKUGAKU contributing to this status?" I believe the two practices will be essential to the continued development of our organization as a leader in the huge domain of life sciences. First, we must ask ourselves that question every single day. Secondly, we make timely corrections even when they might initially appear to be in contrast with the current understanding of organizations such as ours. The first thing that comes to mind is our basic concept of management within the Faculty and Graduate School, which has been fostered and changed over the course of our more than 140-year history. The essence of our concept, or "the modern spirit of TODAI YAKUGAKU", is that "we make sure to pursue equality among laboratories, which has not led us astray, "while placing the highest importance on improving ourselves through competition."
Since abuse of this system where laboratories are funded equally has the potential severely impair the motivation of the very individuals driving the organization, we must make sure it never happens. We focus on developing and recruiting talented faculty, while working to retain our members who are autonomic and understand public nature despite the intense and continuous competition among them. Additionally, we believe in a central feature typical of academic research institutions, we value free ideas from our young researchers (students), who account for the largest portion of each laboratory. Making the best use of the originality and innovation unique to the laboratory setting while ensuring that students can pursue a wide variety of careers, no matter which laboratory they are associated with, continues to improve the overall activities of Graduate School.
Please bear with me while I continue the above thoughts. Nobody acts in a condescending manner and even though we don’t have an incentive scheme, many of our researchers have won fierce competitions over external funding, acquiring large amounts of research funding. One of the things we do to help foster this is to acknowledge the importance of cooperation through open communication, free discussion and thought, especially during team building activities such as regular sporting events. It’s also because we widely share the wisdom: "everything changes" as part of our self-reflection. To cite an example, "The flow of the river is ceaseless and its water is never the same…" by Kamo no Chomei, a famous Japanese essayist in the12th century. I think the best reason is that because that each person is proud to contribute to this organization in their own special way.
In an ever-evolving institution like ours there will always be issues, both old and new, to address. Some of these concerns we face presently include the future reduction in the national administrative expenses grants, sequential renewal of old facilities, internationalization, equipment sharing, and the female researcher ratio. Leveraging many individuals, from within the Graduate school and external, I will strive to resolve each of these issues. I will do my best over next two years to maintain and continue to develop the wonderful environment, TODAI YAKUGAKU that has been achieved by the people who preceded us, and alumni who are globally active. We appreciate your continued guidance and encouragement.
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
The University of Tokyo