Japan – The Land of Rising Legacies

Japan is known for its unique culture, unbeatable hospitality, safe cities and world-class infrastructure. It’s this combination that makes it such a popular destination among international associations. But let’s not forget that Japan is also a treasure trove of world-leading scientific and industrial knowledge and talent. These forces come together to create dynamic and vibrant industries across all fields, making it the ideal place to exchange ideas, as happened during the Human Genome Meeting in Yokohama.

Success was on everybody’s lips at the end of the 22nd Human Genome Meeting (HGM2018) which took place at PACIFICO Yokohama in March 2018. Marking the second time for Japan to host the conference after it was held in Kyoto in 2005, it attracted 460 scientists and professionals from 39 countries/regions, who presented and discussed a variety of topics related to genome research.Themed “Genome data and Health”, the event was organised by the Human Genome Organization (HUGO), whose mission is to strengthen the network and relations between the scientists dedicated to the colossal task of deciphering the human genome and discovering new therapeutic possibilities.

Involved in numerous international collaborative initiatives such as ENCODE, the Human Cell Atlas and the Roadmap Epigenomic project, Japan has significantly contributed to the genome community. Additionally, the country has taken part more recently in the Cancer Genome projects, as well as in the broad sequencing of the Japanese population. Japanese scientists are at the forefront of genome research: they have developed novel technologies and showed continuous efforts to map the genes and have identified the fundamental roles of the non-coding part of the genome.

Center for Life Sciences

Deputy Director of RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies and council member of HUGO, Dr. Piero Carninci, was the chair of the meeting. RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution, has a Yokohama campus and some of the world’s most advanced research on life science is being conducted there – making Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan, the ideal place to hold the event. For many years Carninci has also made exceptional contributions to the development of genome research, both in Japan and abroad, winning a number of national awards such as the Biotec Award, the NISTEP Researchers award and the HUGO Chen Award of Excellence.

“Organising HGM2018 here is a good way to advertise how great Japan is as a place to do research,” says Dr. Piero Carninci. “And this contributes to the internationalisation of science – which I believe is paramount. That’s actually one of the reasons why I decided to become an event organiser, a role which I knew nothing about not so long ago. Science has to be international, especially in our field of expertise, genome sequencing: the more genomes we can compare, the better. So it is essential to have the Japanese scientists working hand in hand with the Europeans and Americans, in order to exchange knowledge. Thanks to the interactions it created, HGM2018 helped the advancement of science and the achievement of a legacy for years to come.”

Located close to Tokyo and easily reachable from its two international airports, Yokohama was the first port city opened to the world in 1859. Harmoniously blending cultures and architectures with a strong Japanese feel, it boasts a great international dimension. Post-convention options abound: visitors can experience true Japanese aestheticism at Sankei-en Garden, enjoy harbor cruises and receptions at facilities with ocean and night views only a port town can offer, and eat delicacies in Chinatown. With many years of experience, a spirit of hospitality and an excellent track record of quality event management, association conferences and events have been organised with great success in Yokohama.

Dr. Piero Carninci explains: “Yokohama is a very attractive city built around a comprehensivecentre,located in the vicinity of an international airportandit boasts a wonderful,flexible conference venue.Plenty ofhigh-quality hotels and restaurants can be found in very close proximity, giving organising committees all the means to offer a strong event programme combined with fun social and networking activities.”

Carninci also praised the blend of quality facilities andthe support to be found not only on a local but also on a national level. As a scientist, I knew nothing about the world of meetings, but thanks to the help of Japan National Tourism Organization and Yokohama Convention and Visitors Bureau, I got support, contacts, sponsors… everything showed up automatically and went smoothly. Now this is my second time organising an international conference, and I think that we have reached a level where preparation and communication go with no particular problems, as we stay in close contact with the local organisations during all stages of the event,”he concludes.

More information on Japan as a conference destination: www.japanmeetings.org / This full version of this article, written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé, is available in the November issue of Boardroom.

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