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2011 ISAJ Symposium

By admin - Posted on 31 December 2011

India-Japan Symposium on Global Challenges in Health and Environment

(Dedicated to the victims of the Great East-Japan Earthquake/Tsunami)
Venue: Indian Embassy Auditorium, Tokyo     
Date: 7 October 2011 (Friday)


Organized by: 




The Indian Scientists Association in Japan (ISAJ), organized its annual symposium on the topic of “Global Challenges in Health and Environment” at the auditorium of the Embassy of India in Tokyo on 7th October 2011.  This was the second successful event of ISAJ after the launch of annual symposium last year that was inaugurated by the then Indian Science and Technology Hon’ble Minister Mr. Prithviraj Chavan.


The 2011 ISAJ symposium  recognized the catastrophic damage to East Japan caused by Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11 2011.  Therefore, in addition to addressing some issues related to this disaster, symposium participants observed a moment of silence in the honor of the disaster victims.


In his inaugural address the Ambassador of India H.E. Mr. Alok Prasad, stressed the need for clean environment and better healthcare system for everybody and emphasized the need for sustainable management of our environment.  Dr. Chadaram Sivaji, Counsellor S &T, Embassy of India, Tokyo spoke about the present status of India-Japan collaborations in S&T and future prospects.  Mr. Kenji Kimura, Director for International Exchange Promotion/MEXT emphasized on the growing importance of India-Japan c

ooperation in science and technology to address pressing global issues in health and environment.  Dr. Sunil Kaul, ISAJ Chairman gave an overview on ISAJ activities in his welcome address, Dr. Ruby Pawankar, Convenor, spoke about the importance of scientific collaboration in medical sciences especially in the area of emerging non-communicable diseases that have been highlighted in the UN strategy in 2011.  Dr. Swadhin Behera, Co-Convenor emphasized the need to develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation for the sustainable management of the earth environment.  Dr. Alok Singh, Organizing Chairman, thanked all the participants, members of the organizing committee and sponsors for their support to make this symposium a grand success. 


The 2011 ISAJ symposium was addressed by eleven prominent scholars and was attended by about 100 participants from various disciplines of science and medicine.  In addition, 60 poster presentations by young researchers, out of which 9 were chosen for short presentations in the plenary sessions, portrayed the recent advances in above topics.  The participants include representatives from Academia, Industry, National Institutes and Government Departments from Japan and the Indian Scientists, Scholars and Students in Japan.  The presentations were on multidisciplinary theme on Health and Environment.

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ISAJ is a forum of Indian Scientists in Japan registered as an NPO with a vision to strengthen India-Japan collaborations in the field of Science and Technology.  Established in December 2008, it was formally launched in Tsukuba, Japan on January 19, 2009 by Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India.  After its establishment, ISAJ has been holding annual symposia besides a series of seminars and meetings at the local chapters to promote S&T cooperation between Japan and India by facilitating greater interaction between Indian scientists and researchers and scientific community in Japan.


Health and Environment are the two major topics of research considering that the world is facing serious challenges in both issues at this time.  For the reason, the Grand Challenges in Global Health and Environment have been at the forefront of the Japanese research initiatives; for example the new initiatives under Life and Green Innovations introduced by MEXT.  Keeping these initiatives in mind and with the growing importance of India-Japan partnership in science and technology, the second ISAJ symposium was organized to help develop stronger collaboration among Indian and Japanese researchers with particular emphasis on the following topics:


i)  Challenges and Innovations in Health Sciences, ii)  Health, Environment and Environmental Hazard, iii) Natural Disasters and Environment and iv) Energy and Environment


ISAJ had the honor of having several dignitaries from leading research centers of Japan and prominent speakers such as Prof. Kiyoshi Kurokawa (former advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan), Prof. Hiroaki Kitano (President, The Systems Biology Institute, Tokyo and President and COO, Sony Computer Science Laboratories), and Prof. Masao Fukazawa (Director, Research Institute for Global Change/JAMSTEC). In his presentation, Prof. Kurokawa stressed the need for sustainable management of health care system and to improve general health awareness among public through good education, awareness and peer pressures by forming health conscious groups. Prof. Kitano showed the advancement in new health care system by including system biology. Prof. Fukasawa demonstrated the present state of the art of maritime observational system and the present status of the ocean observation off Fukushima coast.


Among other speakers, Dr. Mayumi Tamari summarized the work on genome-wide association studies of asthma in the Japanese population, Dr. Ruby Pawankar talked about the novel therapeutic targets in allergic disease.  Dr. Renu Wadhwa highlighted the importance of Ayurveda from modern biotechnology and system biology studies.  Dr. Masahiro Hashizume presented evidences of climate impact on human health.   Dr. Sarat Kumar Sahoo reviewed the radiation physics from the viewpoint of protection and consequences of nuclear accidents.  Dr. Yukio Masumotothe presented state of environment modeling and Dr. Satoshi Konishi discussed the Kyoto University global COE program related to green energy.


A panel discussion was organized after the symposium to identify scopes for further enhancing India-Japan research cooperation and to suggest new collaboration topics.  Mr. Sanjay Panda, Deputy Chief of Mission, Indian Embassy chaired the panel represented by Prof. Hiroaki Kitano, President, The Systems Biology Institute, Tokyo and President and COO, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Dr. Yukio Masumoto, Program Director, RIGC/JAMSTEC, Dr. Chadaram Sivaji, Science Councellor, Indian Embassy, Dr. Sunil Kaul, Chairman, ISAJ, Prof. Ruby Pawankar, Convener of the ISAJ 2nd Symposium, and Prof. Swadhin Behera, Co-convener.


After intensive discussions, the panellists together with the participants from the floor observed and recommended the following points for enhancing present and future India-Japan collaborations:


  1. It was suggested to explore further scopes of collaborations under the existing fellowships of MEXT, JSPS, JST, JICA and other funding agencies of Japan.  Future India-Japan collaborations may be prioritized through these existing collaborative frameworks and in particular JSPS and JST may be contacted to consider new opportunities to support undergraduate Indian students to visit Japan.
  2. In addition to the specific collaborations, scopes for inter-disciplinary collaborations and meetings may be explored.  It is particularly important since the Indian researchers in Japan are working in diverse fields of science and technology.  Therefore, the ISAJ symposium of the next year should be carefully chosen on a broad topic to accommodate those multiple disciplines.  Some of these meetings should be held to realize opportunities of further enhancing student exchanges between Indian and Japan.
  3. In addition to promoting such broad topics of collaborations, collaborating centres should find scopes to facilitate symposia/workshops on specific topics, which should be pursued through existing and future collaborations on institutional or scientists’ levels.
  4. Scopes for further collaborations should be explored in the areas of developing new therapeutics, clinical practice parameters, biomedical sciences, basic research in clinical medical sciences, generic drugs and system biology.  Participations of private ventures should also be promoted in such collaborations to address various health issues ranging from communicable to non-communicable diseases.  Such bilateral collaborations are expected to also address some of the global challenges (particularly in Africa) in health.
  5. Maintenance of ocean observational system in the Indian Ocean is vital for monsoon, Indian Ocean Dipole and El Niño predictions.  In addition to their direct impacts on the large populations of India, Japan and other Asian countries, these modes of climate variations are shown to be associated with several types of disease outbreaks in Indian Ocean rim countries.  India-Japan mutual cooperation is expected to sustain this observational system in addition to further enhance the scope by international cooperation.
  6. Possibilities to provide information services in English need to be explored, wherever it is possible and such information be made available through mailing lists and websites.


Acknowledgements: ISAJ thankfully acknowledges generous support of the Indian Embassy and financial contributions of Global COE Program of Kyoto University, Bank of India, Rakuten, Asian Allergy and Asthma Foundation, State Bank of India and Forecast Ocean Plus.