A Visit to the Land of Cherry Blossoms Ahead of the Crowds: IMF Japan Patient and Doctor Meetings: July 2012
We have just returned from a series of meetings in Kyoto, Japan: July 6-8, 2012. Kyoto is the site for the IMW (International Myeloma Workshop) meeting in April 2013 so it was especially helpful to have a preview of the city and International Conference Center (ICC) venue. The ICC is a large center and well capable of hosting the IMW 2013 meeting. However, it will certainly be a challenge to organize all the myeloma scientific activities next year in a city known for and annually overwhelmed by visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festivals, which occur at that exact time in April 2013.
The recent IMF Japan meetings were a big success. We were honored to participate in the 37th Annual Japanese Myeloma Society (JMS) meetings attended by over 500 Japanese myeloma experts. The focus on myeloma by the JMS is quite remarkable, extending back to the mid-1980s. The scientific part of this meeting proceeded over two days and included several guest speakers: Dr. Paul Richardson (Dana Farber, Boston), Dr. Antonio Palumbo (Torino, Italy), Dr. Ola Landgren from the NCI, as well as myself.
A unique aspect of these meetings is the planned overlap with the IMF Japan Patient and Family Seminar series meetings. Myeloma experts make presentations to the patients, and patients can "sit-in" at the JMS scientific sessions. A new feature this year was that eight of the myeloma experts from Japan set aside individual one-on-one consultation times with Japanese patients. This year, over 300 patients attended and were able to take advantage of a broad range of sessions, including four special "commentary" sessions which I was pleased to present on: bone disease, renal problems, novel therapies, and key questions from 2012.
A unique feature was a concert piano recital by a talented young pianist displaced by the tsunami in the north and now a "refugee" in the Kyoto region. We had the great pleasure to meet this young lady at the IMF Japan dinner reception on July 8, which was the culmination of an amazing, rewarding, and exhausting weekend.
IMF Japan continues to flourish and create its own blend of activities and support for myeloma patients throughout Japan with meetings held all around the country during the year. Koyko Joko (photo at left), current chair of the IMF Japan Board, has organized many new initiatives including the involvement of local physical therapy students as volunteers at the patient seminars. The memory of Aki Horinouchi, who founded IMF Japan in 1997, remains strong and vibrant. As always, it was wonderful to see and spend time with Aki's courageous wife, Midori, who continues to help lead and inspire IMF Japan. It is truly remarkable that there is ongoing fundraising, and that each year, one or two research grants are presented to the top myeloma researchers in Japan in honor of Aki.
We wish great ongoing success to our many colleagues and friends in Japan, as well as our congratulations to Dr. K. Shimizu for what we know will be a very successful and memorable 2013 IMW meeting amid the cherry blossoms! We would also like to thank Masahiro Fukuda for being such a wonderful friend who took such good care of us during our visit.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.