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The 699th Mita Public Speaking Event: "From Diagnosing Cancer Through Saliva to Artificial Spider Silk—the Challenges Taken Up at Tsuruoka Town Campus of Keio"

Update:Dec. 24, 2014

On Friday, November 28, Keio’s traditional Mita Public Speaking Event was held at the Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan). At this, the 699th Mita Public Speaking Event, Prof. Masaru Tomita, Director of the Institute for Advanced Biosciences, gave a talk on the theme, "From Diagnosing Cancer Through Saliva to Artificial Spider Silk—the Challenges Taken Up at Tsuruoka Town Campus of Keio."

The Keio University Institute for Advanced Biosciences (IAB) opened in 2001 at the Tsuruoka Town Campus of Keio (in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture), and is now in its 14th year. In his talk, Prof. Tomita introduced the two bio-ventures that emerged from the research at the IAB, namely Human Metabolome Technologies Inc. (HMT) and Spiber Inc., which is commercializing artificial spider web fibers, and he mentioned the various other research undertaken at the Tsuruoka Town Campus.

When Prof. Tomita was entrusted with the opening of the Institute for Advanced Biosciences by the then-President Torii, the objective was to have "a research center that will draw the world's attention." He went on to introduce some of IAB’s proud initiatives that are taking the lead in changing Japan from the regions, such as the bio camps and the recruiting of special research students (local high school students interested in bio-sciences to become involved in research at the institute). He also touched on the collaboration with Tsuruoka City, which is extremely fulfilling as he can clearly see the IAB initiatives are making contributions to the community, and he showed his gratitude to the city of Tsuruoka.

Finally, Prof. Tomita quoted Yukichi Fukuzawa, who said “Support your country, not depend on it," and a local proverb from the region of Shonai, Yamagata, "Grow roots rather than flowers." He closed the lecture by declaring his strong desire to produce young people who take up new endeavors without fear of failure.

After a warm round of applause, Prof. Tomita stayed for a lively question and answer session.

Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan)
Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan)
Prof. Tomita giving his lecture
Prof. Tomita giving his lecture

Inside the Mita Public Speaking Hall
Inside the Mita Public Speaking Hall
A member of the audience reading an article of Tsuruoka Town Campus
A member of the audience reading an article of Tsuruoka Town Campus featured in a magazine

Photo: Satoru Inoue