The 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japan College of Rheumatology will be held in Fukuoka City for three days from April 24 to 26, 2023. It is a great honor for me to serve as the president for this meeting, and I wish to thank all concerned for your support and cooperation. Although the world has been profoundly destabilized by disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion, as of the time of writing in March 2022, this event will be held in person in Fukuoka City. In view of maximal anti-infection measures and risks associated with the “3-C’s” (closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings), we are planning to accommodate the educational sessions online, on demand, and scale back the poster sessions at the venue, while adding workshops.
The 21st century has seen revolutionary changes in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and spondylarthritis. It has been 20 years since biological preparations were first marketed in 2003, and 10 years since JAK inhibitors entered the market in 2013; indeed, 2023 marks a significant milestone. It has become possible to induce remission and prevent further structural damage of the joints in most patients. We are however facing new issues, including the short-and long-term safety and economic efficiency of these drugs, COVID-19-related medical handling of patients, handling of refractory cases, treatment of organ damage, post-remission drug discontinuation, and the appropriate use of molecular-targeted agents. I trust that this meeting will serve as the base where we discuss and propose increasingly innovative and advanced therapeutic strategies supported by globally highly valued post-marketing surveillance and systematic registries established by this college, ahead of all other countries in the world.
Although it has become possible to use molecular targeted therapeutic agents for the treatment of systemic autoimmune and connective tissue diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and large/small vessel vasculitic syndromes, we have not been able to reach the therapeutic targets for organ damage and the inhibition of recurrence, and many unmet needs are remaining. It is a pressing issue to investigate the concerned pathologies and develop molecular-targeted agents by mechanism- and pathology-based approach. I believe that this meeting, solidly rooted in a globally unparalleled cooperative system involving interdisciplinary collaboration between those involved in basic research and clinical application, internal medicine and orthopedic surgery, pediatric and geriatric medicine, spanning all levels from interns to veterans, etc. – the strength of the Japan College of Rheumatology – can serve as the starting point for new developments that will form the foundation for original themes and concepts.
To promote internationalization utilizing Japan’s uniqueness and characteristics, we will invite many forerunners from overseas, thanks in part to the generous support from corporations, and feature various joint sessions with ACR, APLAR, and EULAR, positioning this meeting as the start of “go above and beyond.” It is essential to mobilize the power of the young, both domestic and overseas, who will take on key roles hereafter in going “above and beyond” to surmount the issues noted above. We augment JCR 2023 Travel Awards, maximum 100 awardees who will speak in the “International Concurrent Workshop,” plus effectively use the website and social media, aiming to have the meeting become an interactive forum for young researchers in- and outside Japan.
The theme of this meeting is “With Sincerity, go above and beyond.” The picturesque original Japanese saying provoking the image of “heaven being moved by total sincerity” is an adaptation of a quote by the Japanese 19th century scholar Shoin Yoshida, who is from my hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture. This in turn originated with the legendary words of the Chinese Confucian philosopher Mencius expressing the sentiment that “if one is truly sincere in what one does, there is nobody one will not be able to move.” If one truly puts one’s whole heart into whatever you do, be it education, clinical practice or research, one can look forward to reaping benefits in the future.
I hope that new and positive expectations for the future will take root at this meeting, despite the present unstable circumstances in our global society. Thank you for your support of and cooperation with these endeavors.