Home > QST WebSite > Remarks by president of QST on the 1st QST International Symposium

QST WebSite

Remarks by president of QST on the 1st QST International Symposium

Display printing page

Opening Remarks on the 1st QST International Symposium

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for attending the 1st QST International Symposium, “Quantum Life Science”!
I am Toshio Hirano, President of the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, or QST for short. I would like to say a few words at the opening of this 1st QST International Symposium, which has been organised under the title of Quantum Life Science. This symposium is held concurrently with the Joshikai for Future Scientists -International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering for nurturing female scientists. We at QST co-organized the Joshikai with the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development under the leadership of Director General Mr. William D. Magwood.
 It gives me great pleasure today to speak as the representative of the host organisation of this symposium, in the presence of such dignitaries as Mr. Toshiei Mizuochi, who is the State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Ms. Aiko Shimajiri, who is Special Advisor to the Minister, Cabinet Office.
 By combining the National Institute of Radiological Sciences with the Quantum Beam Directorate and the Nuclear Fusion Directorate of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, QST was inaugurated in April 2016 as a national institute to pioneer new scientific advances in the field of quantum science and technology. QST's research covers an extremely broad spectrum of activity that includes nuclear fusion energy, materials science, quantum beam science, quantum biology and medicine including the research for diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer and dementia, and radiation exposure and protection. Quantum science and technology lies at the foundation of all these fields.
 The world is full of diversity in terms of differences in language, people, customs, religion, and more. Diversity is a wellspring for innovation and enrichment of human society, yet it can also engender barriers that lead to conflict and war. In fact, I think the history of humanity could be summed up as the history of development through diversity and of conflict due to diversity. Quantum science and technology is a shared concept among humanity and a kind of language common to all humankind, just like the arts or sports. These languages common to all humankind have the power to overcome barriers and make it possible for us to communicate with people having different cultures to understand and respect each other. By this way, we can create harmonious diversity in the world.
 The mission of QST is to contribute to the development of a peaceful and enriched human society through the creation of “harmonious diversity” that goes beyond the barriers of our differences, while also continuing to develop quantum science and technology by promoting the interaction of people throughout the world.
 The theme we have chosen for the first international symposium of QST is “Quantum Life Science”. As you all know, after Planck’s quantum postulate and Einstein's interpretation of the photoelectric effect, physics in the 20th century made the great leap from classical to modern physics through the establishment of quantum mechanics by Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger and their contemporaries.
 Biology also underwent major changes in the 20th century. The discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953 by Watson and Crick revealed the “blueprint of life” itself. The field of molecular biology sprang from this discovery, and there was an explosive evolution in almost all aspects of biology, including not only genetics, but also developmental biology, biochemistry, and immunology, leading to the current form of the life sciences and revolutions in medicine and medical treatment.
 Physics, biology, quantum mechanics, and the life sciences are closely connected to each other. The efforts of physicists and biologists have narrowed the distance between these fields, at times aided by those of chemists. Quantum mechanics is essential to understanding the functioning of molecules in living organisms. To give an example, the physical process whereby DNA is damaged by radiation, and the process wherein this damage can be repaired enzymatically, can only be understood with quantum mechanics. In this new century, we are seeing the fundamental roles being played by quantum mechanical effects in the mechanisms of life phenomena, such as the acquisition of energy through photosynthesis, and the magnetic compass, which is essential for the navigation of birds during migration.
 Recent years have seen the development of high-performance quantum technologies such as quantum sensors, quantum dots, and nano imaging. These make possible the measurement of localized temperatures inside individual cells or the extremely low-noise observation of cells and tissue, which we hope will lead to new discoveries and understanding of the mechanisms of life.

 All of this allows us to say that the 21st century is the age of “quantum life science”.

As we move deeper into the 21st century, I sincerely hope that this symposium will help the scientists gathered here to look at life anew with 'quantum eyes.' Rather than being concerned about whether we are physicists or biologists, we should come together to invigorate the field of quantum life science. I sincerely hope that this symposium will help to set this in motion. I wish to thank Professor Johnjoe McFadden and Professor Jim Al-Khalili, both leaders in this field, for agreeing to give the keynote lecture and act as program chair, respectively. As a representative of the hosting organization, I would also like to express my gratitude to the 21 distinguished scientists, 12 from overseas and 9 from Japan, for the series of lectures to be delivered in the next few days.
 Concurrently with the symposium, the Joshikai for Future Scientists - International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering- will also be held. "Joshikai" is a Japanese word meaning an enjoyable, informal meeting of women. It will include group discussions between female high school students who are hoping to move forward into the sciences in the future, and female researchers who are active on the global front lines of science. Our intention with this workshop is to help  the development of the next generation of researchers and to further increase the number of female researchers working in scientific and technological fields. We earnestly hope that some of the female high school students attending the workshop will be inspired to enter the field of quantum life science.
 Many thanks must go to Dr. Claudie Haigneré, a well-known European astronaut and politician, and who will serve as chair of the workshop. I must also state my appreciation for the video message received from Dr. Hélène Langevin-Joliot, a noted nuclear physicist and granddaughter of Marie and Pierre Curie.

 Many people both from Japan and from overseas are participating in this symposium and workshop to be held today and tomorrow. I dearly hope that these two days will be of great significance to all those attending.

 I shall end this address now by thanking all of you for attending this event today.

 25, July, 2017
QST president, Toshio Hirano