- President of the 66th Annual General Assembly and Scientific Meeting of
the Japan College of Rheumatology
- Sakae Tanaka M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,
Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo
I am pleased to announce that the 66th Annual General Assembly and Scientific Meeting of the Japan College of Rheumatology will be held at PACIFICO Yokohama for three days from April 25 to 27, 2022. The Japan College of Rheumatology will celebrate its 65th anniversary in 2022, counting from 1957 when its predecessor, the Japan Rheumatism Association, was founded. I feel very honored and humbled to be in charge of a meeting with such a long tradition.
Since its early days, the Japan College of Rheumatology has been a cross-disciplinary society in which medical doctors and researchers from a wide range of fields participate. The Annual Scientific Meetings have provided fora for exchange and information among clinicians and researchers in Japan as well as overseas who are involved in rheumatology.
The novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) that first emerged in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 quickly swept the world and still continues to cause many infections and deaths. The characteristic of this disease, that it spreads from asymptomatic and presymptomatic patients, has caused many times more fear in the society than the real danger of the disease, and has fragmented human bonds. The emergence of this new and unprecedented infectious disease has caused confusion and anxiety even among scientists and medical professionals, and has divided the professional community. The term "divisive disease" does not overstate the nature of this infectious disease.
To prevent the spread of infection, the Annual Meeting of the Japan College of Rheumatology was held in an entirely virtual format in 2020 and in a hybrid format in 2021, and all speakers from overseas gave online presentations. Thanks to advances in communication technology, it is now possible to obtain sufficient academic information even at web-based conferences. In addition, some members that had challenges in attending the meeting in the past, because the conference venues were too far away or they were busy with their daily work, have said that online conferences made it easier for them to participate. However, exchanging information, and deepening friendships through face-to-face meetings has irreplaceable value, and it is truly sad that such opportunities are being lost. We cannot say for sure at this point what form the conference will take in 2022, but we hope to provide a place where clinicians and researchers involved in rheumatology can foster their connections as much as possible.
The theme for the 66th Annual Meeting is "We Shall Overcome." This is the title of a famous gospel turned protest song that symbolizes the American Civil Rights Movement, but I do not intend to put any political message into this theme. In order to move forward, we must overcome the pandemic. We must overcome the divisions. And we must not stop our efforts to overcome the disease. I would like to make this the conference that conveys such a message to the participants.