President of MBSJ2023
Shigeo Hayashi
(RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research)

Finally, October is here, and it feels like the hot summer has come to an end. But seriously, wasn't this summer just way too long? 😅 Now, in preparation for the annual conference, we've come up with the slogan "Welcome to the Giant Chat Room!" This conference isn't just about formal presentations; it's also a precious opportunity to randomly meet old friends, revered researchers you've only known from papers, and even researchers from entirely different fields through casual conversations, gaining science ideas and insights. This year, we're using large name badges and providing stickers with illustrations symbolizing your research area that you can decorate your badge with. So, make your badge your own and increase your chances of making new connections.
The number of presentations for the conference is now fixed. We have a total of 2,893 presentations, with 2,270 in the general category and 623 as Late Breaking Abstracts (LBA), which brings us back to the pre-pandemic level, almost matching the 2018 conference in Yokohama. Especially exciting is the record number of LBAs, and we're looking forward to many hot topics being shared. General and LBA presentations are categorized together in the poster sessions. To give participants more opportunities to shine, we've selected 237 general abstracts for presentation at the symposia, and there will be 544 flash talks on the dedicated stage in the poster area. We have a total of 125 symposia (18 online, 107 on-site) and 19 forums. You'll find sessions that will benefit your work and satisfy your curiosity.
Thanks to the support of EMBO, we're holding a poster clinic this year, so be sure to participate. Also, we have a lunch session on the future of Scientific Publication, welcoming editors from EMBO publishing and Genes to Cells on December 8th, focusing on the rapidly changing situation of scientific publishing. Additionally, we've dedicated two days to science communication sessions in the forum slots. In conjunction, we've prepared an exhibition of artworks of science illustrators to facilitate interactions with researchers. This provides opportunities to interact with science communicators to increase the chance of your works reaching a wider audience.
The conference begins with online symposiums on November 27th (Monday). We'll have live streaming sessions from 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, with on-demand viewing available for approximately a month. Whether you want to watch intensively in the morning, casually during work breaks, or during a business trip, we've got you covered, so please enjoy the sessions.
While COVID-19 has been downrated to level 5, the number of people wearing masks in the city is decreasing. However, we've recently seen frequent news about COVID-19 and influenza infections, and reports of infections around me are still coming in. For safety, I've also received COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations. We'll take precautions at the venue, such as distributing masks and installing shields on the stage. We ask all members to participate with thorough preparation to avoid infection during this in-person conference, which we've been looking forward to.
October 2023

Thank you all for the many submissions to our open call for symposiums. Most of them requested to be held onsite, and we strongly felt the demand and enthusiasm of our members for an onsite conference. Since we consider it a top priority of the annual meeting to take advantage of the ideas and suggestions of our members, we have decided to accept all proposals by adding a venue and having some of the proposals be made at the forum. We would like to thank all the organizers who responded to our request for adjustments.

We have also set the registration fee. In response to last year's increase in the registration fee, we received a wide variety of responses to our survey, ranging from those who said the fee was acceptable to those who were reluctant to participate anymore. Another characteristic of the survey was that about a quarter of the participants paid their expenses from their pocket to attend the annual meeting instead of paying from the research money. This may be due to the difficult situation of research funding, or it may be that many people attend meeting for self-improvement apart from their duties. Considering these factors, we have lowered the advance registration fee for regular members (7/3-10/10) to ¥13,000 from last year. The fee for late registration and on-site participation will be ¥20,000, the same as last year.

In the application guidelines for the symposium, we requested that the gender of the scheduled speakers be stated, with the ratio of women being approximately 30%. In response to this request, several members pointed out that some people find it distressing to be forced to specify their own gender. It is true that many of the recent registration menus offer more than three options, such as female/male/prefer not to say. We apologize to those who found this distressing. The gender confirmation was in response to the Molecular Biology Society's policy to increase the percentage of female participation. While the discussion in the organizing committee was that closing the male-female gender gap is certainly a pressing issue, we must not forget that there are minorities who do not fit into this category. We converged on the understanding that the essential consideration is to ensure that certain groups (gender, race, university of origin, etc.) are not over-represented. We will make use of this in our future responses.

Registration for general abstracts (open symposium, oral presentations, science pitches (short talks), and posters) will begin on 7/3. The deadline is 7/31 (Mon.) at 17:00, and will not be extended. We will also offer travel grants to overseas members as part of the Young Researchers Invitation Program (deadline: 7/31). Please do not forget to register for this event.
June 2023

How was the 45th Annual Meeting last December? I personally enjoyed it very much thanks to the various new formats taking advantage of the vast venue of Makuhari Messe. I would like to express my deep appreciation to President Fukagawa and all the steering committee members for their ideas and great efforts. We have been collecting opinions from MBSJ members, and many of them were very positive. We would like to inherit some successful ones for the next meeting. The core function of the annual meeting is to present research results and to engage in a free and critical exchange of ideas. In addition, as the largest scientific society in the life sciences in Japan, MBSJ provides opportunities for participants to step outside their own research field to discover fresh ideas and future collaborators. We commissioned expert scientists to organize symposia, including topics beyond orthodox molecular biology. For some core topics, we have invited organizers from remote fields in anticipation of fresh interaction. We are also inviting proposals for symposia and forums from MBSJ members.
One of my jobs at the Makuhari Annual Meeting was to make the rounds of the corporate booths. I talked with exhibitors about their impressions of the Annual Meeting and asked them to exhibit the following year. Honestly, it was quite a rough job to visit all the booths over a two-day period. But it was quite enjoyable to grasp the trends in technological development in commercial products, and I felt their enthusiasm for supporting customers. I also saw many people who had been active scientists in the past, now participating in the annual meeting as staff members of companies. Corporate sponsorships cover a large part of the annual meeting budget. Our research is conducted using reagents and equipment provided by companies, and many of our graduates seek jobs in related companies. We believe that the research in molecular biology will be further stimulated and the field will be broadened and deepened if researchers and sponsors get to know each other more. We would like to provide the opportunity to deepen the interaction between the two.
We look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting in Kobe.
January 2023