I was appointed President of this Society in April 2008. This is a great honor, but it also means that I am suddenly responsible for the mounting issues the Society and the discipline faces. The Japanese Society of Neuroimmunology was established two decades ago this year. I would like to briefly outline how I intend, as President, to conduct Society operations going forward into the next twenty years.

We cannot vitalize the activities of the Society without strengthening our financial foundation. The previous President was tireless in his efforts to establish a healthy financial base for the Society, and my task now is to see that we build upon his success. I believe that increasing our membership should be central to our fundraising efforts. Most society members are researchers working on neuroimmunological diseases in the field of neurology, but the rapid progress of academic research in the field has led to a situation in which research findings can be too abstruse for clinicians. There is also a growing number of people who, while not from medical backgrounds, have an interest in the field. I therefore believe we should aim to become Society that ranks among the best neuroimmunology-focused academic associations in the world, while also being welcoming and accessible to clinicians and young researchers from related disciplines.

Specifically, we will seek to attract new members by holding seminars for clinicians on the pathology and treatment of neuroimmunological diseases and by running basic courses on neuroimmunology for young researchers. We need to structure our Society meetings to spark the interest of clinicians and to incorporate and develop discussion on treatments and clinical conferences. I would also like us to consider the possibility of joint conferences with related societies, such as the Japanese Society of Neurological Therapeutics and the Japanese Society for Neuroinfectious Diseases.

There is a growing interest in neuroimmunology in the Asian region, and I believe that our Society should include in its mission the goal of making whatever contribution possible to the communication and development of neuroimmunology throughout Asia. Going forward, we should encourage Asian researchers working in the field to participate in Society activities and arrange programs of academic exchange. For this reason, I believe that measures such as increasing the ratio of meetings and presentations conducted in English and strengthening our travel award program for young researchers will becoming key.

The Board has already taken the decision to begin preparations to publish the Society journal in English and make it available online. Our aim is for an improved journal impact factor, and we will push these changes through as quickly as possible in close collaboration with the editorial board.

We also need to work on the Society website, to make it more accessible and to increase access figures. The website should be updated regularly to provide clear information on Society organization and to make available academic and clinical information of relevance to members. I intend to implement an overhaul of the Academic & Public Relations Board, specifically to include young Society members in these processes.

Of course, it remains to be seen just how much I will be able to achieve during my term as President. What I can guarantee is that I will do my utmost to move forward with these plans, hopefully with the support and cooperation of all Society members.

July 29, 2008

Akio Suzumura
President, Japanese Society of Neuroimmunology
Professor, Department of Neuroimmunology, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University