The Cabinet's Special Adviser, Former President of the Science
Council of Japan
Early in the new year from Washington DC
Happy New Year! Time has passed so quickly. I have been in Washington, DC since January 6th. The daytime temperature is almost 23-5℃ here. This is unusual weather. I can see people are drinking coffee on terraces in half sleeve shirts. In winter, I've heard that this is the first time in the past hundred years that the temperature has reached low 20℃ in the winter in Washington, DC.
I had an opportunity to have lunch with Dr Harvey Fineberg, president of Institute of Medicine. We had a highly productive discussion about many challenging problems. That night, I accidentally received an e-mail from an official of the Gates Foundation. It was an inquiry about the "Disease Control Priority Project, 2nd edition"(Please refer to the column on April 2nd, 2006, "To the World Health Policy"), of which I am involved and had spoken about with Dr. Fineberg during lunch. What a coincidence!
I also had a great time with Dr. Zerhouni, director of National Institutes of Health (NIH). We had such a fruitful discussion session that we overran our schedule. Afterwards, I was able to visit Janelia Farm, to which I was really looking forward. Janelia Farm is a completely different institute with a new concept. Dr. Gerald M. Rubin, director of the institute, is a great person too. Only 30% of the whole building was built, but I could see that it has a wonderful construction. I received useful information that I could implement at the new graduate university in Okinawa, where I am working as a founding member. While I was in Washington, DC, I also visited National Association for Manufacturing (NAM).
I met Dr George Atkinson, the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of States (STAS) for an hour. I also had a great time with Ralph J. Cicerone, director of National Academy of Science and John Boright, Excective Diretor of International Affairs at the US National Academy of Science and in the meeting we covered a great number of topics. At night, I got an e-mail from Jeffrey Sachs about his visit to Japan in March for Millennium Village Project. I spoke with him as he was in New York.
Anyway, the people I met during this visit were all at the top of each of their important institutes or holding key posts. Their perspectives and ambitions are international, and I felt my level of intellectual stimulation is slightly different from when I meet Japanese people holding the same kind of posts. I imagine you have same kind of experience.
I would like to thank young staffs of Japanese embassy that made my visit truly eventful. I hope they can play an important role in the future. Each of them was really great. Please try to use your individual strengths, since overall strength cannot be brought out only by an organization.
I came back to Japan on 10th. This was a really busy but fulfilling trip.