5th HOPE Meeting Overview
Date: 26 February － 2 March, 2013
Place: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (Tokyo, Japan)
Subject fields: Life Sciences and related fields
Organizer: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
Under the auspice of the Yomiuri Shimbun(newspaper)
Chaired by Prof. Makoto Kobayashi, the fifth HOPE Meeting was held in Tokyo on the theme “Life Sciences.” It was attended by 98 graduate students and young researchers from 16 Asia-Pacific and African countries. This was the first HOPE Meeting to be attended by participants from South Africa. Lectures were delivered by seven Nobel laureates, including Profs. Susumu Tonegawa and Mario Renato Capecchi, and two other distinguished researchers. Some of their lectures were broadcast live to the general public over the website Ustream. At the first day’s reception, a video-recorded message from Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, 2012 Nobel Prize recipient in Physiology or Medicine, was played for the young researchers.
In addition to lectures, group discussions were held. Each was attended by about 20 participants, who enjoyed close contact with the lecturers as they discussed research issues and paths forward and received precious gems of advice. Also held were 1-minute “Flash talks” on the participants’ research themes in tandem with a poster session. This not only gave the participants an opportunity to report on their own research but also to share research results and exchange views with their peers.
On the third day, the participants made an observation tour of the RIKEN Wako Institute where each group visited two of its organizations, chosen from among its Advanced Center for Computing and Communication, Advanced Science Institute, Nishina Center for Accelerator－Based Science, and Research Cluster for Innovation. While observing the facilities, they received with keen interest briefings about their operations.On the last day of the meeting, multinational groups delivered their various team presentations on the theme “Life Science in Global Future.” Many of them abounded in innovation and animation taking such forms as video or drama, with prizes awarded for the best and most unique presentations.
Over the five days of the event, the participants from the various countries and regions lodged and ate together with researchers of their same generation, giving them the opportunity to strengthen ties with peers while receiving powerful stimulus from the lectures and by their discussions with the world-renowned researchers. In addition, opportunities were provided the participants to deepen their perspective of Japanese culture by attending a concert conducted with Japanese musical instruments and experiencing such cultural elements as shodo calligraphy and ikebana flower arranging.
On Thursday, 28 February, a HOPE Dialogue meeting was held to give Japanese high school students an opportunity to converse in English with the HOPE Meeting lecturers. It was attended by Profs. Mario Renato Capecchi, Aharon Jehuda Ciechanover and Makoto Kobayashi along with 48 students from three high schools in the Tokyo area. After each of the lecturers introduced themselves, they split up into three rooms with the participants, where free discussions were carried out between them in English.
Taking full advantage of this highly unique opportunity to talk with Nobel laureates, the participants asked them a myriad of questions, including about their research activities, what they should do as high school students to become future scientists, and how the lecturers chose their own careers when they were students, sparking an animated give-and-take of inquiries and answers.
HOPE Meeting Jr.
On Saturday, 2 March, a HOPE Meeting Jr. was held in the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) to give elementary and junior-high school students an opportunity to learn about the joy of science. Attending it were Profs. Hideki Shirakawa and Makoto Kobayashi along with 19 students. In front of the museum’s displays, the two Nobel laureates described the themes for which they had received the Prize,
after which they conducted an experimental workshop in which the students made a conductive plastic secondary battery. This was followed by a “question corner,” in which the lecturers answered such questions as “What do you do when an experiment doesn’t go well?” or “Is study in school really useful?” Through this experience the students gained a deeper understanding of how interesting and fun science can be.