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Welcome Speech for Kyoto University Reception for International Visiting Academics - Dec 21, 2007 -

Kazuo OIKE

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As President of Kyoto University, I'd like to offer a warm welcome to all of you.

I am honored to be here with such a distinguished gathering of over 150 international visiting academics, their host researchers, the deans of graduate schools and directors of research institutes and centers.

Kyoto University welcomes many visiting academics from overseas every year. If we include one-day visits, 3954 researchers from all over the world visited Kyoto University in the 2006 academic year. 792 of those researchers stayed with us for over two weeks. Unfortunately, however, I don't often have the opportunity to meet with many of our visitors, so I am looking forward to talking with many of the international visiting researchers here today.

On this occasion, in order to provide a brief sketch of Kyoto University's recent activities for those who may not be so familiar with the university, I would like to give an overview of some of the major events which happened at the university in the past year.

On January 23rd of this year, we celebrated the centennial anniversary of the birth of Kyoto University's two Nobel laureates, Dr. Hideki Yukawa and Dr. Shinichiro Tomonaga.

On April 19th, the Center for Women Researchers, which began its activities in September 2006, re-opened its facility near Yoshida Campus following a major renovation. The center is engaged various activities aimed at improving the circumstances and environment for women researchers.

On July 8th, the Kokoro Research Center held a symposium celebrating its foundation. The Kokoro Research Center is a unique facility undertaking comprehensive research relating to the Japanese concept of kokoro. The word kokoro expresses a range of meanings such as “mind,” “heart” and “spirit.” Accordingly, the center's research spans fields such as psychology, cognitive science, brain science and human sciences.

On September 12th, Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences proposal was adopted for the Ministry of Education's World Premier International Research Center Initiative, and on October 1st, the institute officially began its activities.

On October 20th, we celebrated the completion of Funai Tetsuro Auditorium & Funai Center, two new state of the art facilities on Kyoto University's Katsura Campus.

On November 12th, the renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall was awarded the eleventh honorary doctorate of Kyoto University. Dr. Goodall is internationally famous for her studies of wild chimpanzees. Next spring, Kyoto University will open a new wild animal research center.

On November 23rd, the 2nd Homecoming Day event for Kyoto University alumni was held at the Clock Tower Centennial Hall. Around 200 alumni participated in the event. The alumni association in Beijing also had a gathering this year, and a further alumni association called “HAKU” was established in Indonesia. Another alumni association meeting in Bangkok is planned for next month.

This month Professor Shinya Yamanaka of the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences and his team were able to generate Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from human skin cells, and moreover he did it without the cancer-causing agent ? a breakthrough in stem cell research.

I hope that this brief overview has given you at least a general impression of the university's recent events and activities, and I hope that I have the opportunity to share further happy and memorable events with you all next year.

Finally, I would like to ask all of you to please enjoy yourselves at this evening's party, and I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year.

Thank you for your attention.

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