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Centre hosts Japanese immunologists

11 March 2013

The Maurice Wilkins Centre was delighted to host distinguished scientists from Japan at the second New Zealand-Japan Joint Immunology Workshop, held at The University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika last week.

The two-day event brought together leading immunologists from the two countries, to discuss their latest work on everything from allergy vaccines to immune therapy for cancer and new technology for studying the immune system.

“Immunology in Japan is very high performing – it’s one of the best countries in the world in the field. So it’s a great privilege to hear from our Japanese colleagues,” said Director Professor Rod Dunbar at the opening of the event.

Professor Dunbar encouraged the scientists to use the workshop to identify potential collaborative opportunities. “The Maurice Wilkins Centre is very keen to continue to fund exchanges between our two countries and to further the links between our scientists,” he said.

Professor Takeshi Tokuhisa, Vice President of Chiba University, said that this was the Japanese scientists’ first visit to New Zealand and they had formed a very favourable impression. “I really want to continue this collaboration, and for it to become stronger and stronger,” he said, noting that in a small country scientists could gather together quickly and easily, facilitating collaboration.

This was the second meeting between Maurice Wilkins Centre scientists from around New Zealand and colleagues from RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy & Immunology (RCAI) and Chiba University. The first took place in 2010, on a visit by Maurice Wilkins Centre scientists to Japan sponsored by the then Ministry of Science and Innovation (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise).

Dr Seishi Gomibuchi, who fostered the relationship while working at MSI and later The University of Auckland, says of the 2010 visit: “The Japanese were deeply impressed with our research and keen to work with us. Both sides realised how much potential there was.”

The latest workshop is part of a collaborative programme of joint scientific meetings and individual exchanges that began the following year, as a result of formal relationships being established with all three of the Japanese institutions the New Zealand scientists visited; RIKEN RCAI, Chiba University, and the Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Programme.