A Message from the President

Strengthen the International Competitiveness of Education and Research
in Pharmaceutical Sciences

Shigeki Sasaki, Ph.D.
President,
The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan

I have been appointed as the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan from April 2021. It is a great honor to take the helm of the Society, which has a long history dating back to its first president Nagayoshi Nagai in 1880, and I feel a heavy responsibility. I sincerely ask for your support in this endeavor.

In 2020, the world changed completely due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19. A number of people, including celebrities and our colleague, lost their lives. I would like to express my deepest condolences here. Vaccination began in February 2021 in Japan, and I hope that COVID-19 will be overcome and normal life will return.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan plays a central role in academic activities related to pharmaceutical sciences in Japan. The activities of the society are supported by 10 divisions with different specialties, 8 regional branches, 16 standing committees, 2 special committees and the secretariat. We will continue to actively carry out a wide range of support activities; publication of three international journals in English, YAKUGAKU ZASSHI and Farumashia in Japanese; international exchange activities with FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) and AFMC (Asian Federation of Medicinal Chemistry), and pharmaceutical societies in Germany, South Korea and Canada; and collaboration with domestic academic organizations such as the Science Council of Japan; and fostering of young researchers through the Nagai Memorial Research Incentive Program.

Recently, the decline in research capabilities in Japan has been a growing concern. The field of the pharmaceutical sciences is no exception, and there is a sense of crisis that "Japan's pharmaceutical education and research may be falling behind the global trend." This is an issue that is difficult to solve immediately, but I would like to take a step toward a solution.

One is "fusion of fields" to enhance the international competitiveness of research. The first mRNA vaccine in human history has been commercialized, which is attracting attention as a trump card for curbing the spread of infection. It is noteworthy that this vaccine was created by integrating the fields of basic pharmaceutical sciences including synthetic chemistry, biochemistry and DDS. Pharmaceutical sciences include a wide range of fields, from basic research to drug discovery, from drug management to drug therapy management, from big data analysis to disease mechanism elucidation, and then back to basic research. In order to be competitive in the world's pharmaceutical world, which is changing fluidly and dynamically, it is extremely important to promote interdisciplinary fusion among these different fields and work together as one.

The fusion of fields is also useful for tracking the latest trends in the medical technology. In addition, if the explanatory articles are published on the website of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, it can serve as a "medicine information center". This will also lead to activities to raise awareness among high school students and others of pharmaceutical sciences ranging from drug discovery to medical treatment.

It has been 15 years since the 6-year pharmacy system started in 2006. While the program has been highly evaluated in terms of improving the quality of pharmacists, serious problems have emerged in maintaining the role of University and Colleges. It has become clear that the number of students entering doctoral programs and finding employment at universities is extremely low, regardless of whether they are in the basic or medical fields, and that the number of faculty members who should be training the next generation is considerably insufficient. This is a serious problem that should shake the very foundations of pharmaceutical field of Japan, so we would like to work together with related organizations to devise countermeasures.

Lastly, I have a request. The Nagai Memorial Hall, where the Secretariat of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan is located, will need to be rebuilt in 30 years due to its deterioration, for this reason the Pharmaceutical Society is setting aside funds. It is estimated that we need to save more than 60 million yen every year, and we plan to promote online and paperless operation of various meetings, as well as and digitization of academic journals and Farumashia. We ask for your understanding changes as we strive to improve the convenience of our members.

In a new system in 2021, Professor Yoshiharu Iwabuchi (Division of Organic Chemistry) and Professor Itsuko Ishii (Division of Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences) will join us as Vice Presidents, and we will accelerate the internationalization and the integration of the fields to make the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan even more attractive. I would like to ask for the warm support and cooperation of all our members.