Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine

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Tomohiko Ichikawa, Chairperson of the Executive Board

June 2018

I am privileged to be appointed as the new Chair, as Prof. Minoru Irahara's successor, at the general meeting of members and new executive board meeting held on June 22, 2018. It is my great honor to lead this long-established society built up by its members for the next two years, and I shall do my very best to fulfill my responsibilities and meet expectations. I would greatly appreciate your continued guidance and support.

One in twenty newborns were born through assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in 2015. Since I too had my child through ARTs, I have worked in this field to return the favor. However, despite the spread of ARTs, there remain many unresolved challenges in reproductive medicine. Due to the decreasing size of the reproductive population and the declining birth rate, the current system of reproductive medicine may shrink in the future. There is also concern that the number of young scientists and doctors engaged in academic reproductive medicine is decreasing. To continuously train professionals and further expand research in reproductive medicine, the former Chair Prof. Minoru Irahara had directed the society to focus on six challenges: (1) sound management of the society, (2) reform of the specialist certification system, (3) improvement of the English version of the journal, (4) ARTs and their legislation, (5) establishment of international status, and (6) public relations and social engagement. All of these are important and need to be addressed, and therefore as the new chair I would like to continue to focus on them.

Due to the diversifying activities of the society, including our increased membership, managing the specialty certification system, and the launch of the English version of the journal, we changed the secretariat management company in 2017. In order to ensure a smooth transition, we had a temporary service contract with both new and old companies, allowing us to complete the handover process smoothly. I am going to oversee the society by closely working with committee members, ensuring that the secretariat operations are carried out efficiently and with a sound financial basis by the new company. I have served as Chair of the reproductive medicine practitioner certification system committee with jurisdiction over the society's specialty certification system for six years. I also served as Chair of the specialty certification system committee in urology, a core specialty area for two years, and was involved in the transition to the new certification system under the Japanese Medical Specialty Board. A certified reproductive medical specialist is defined as a certified specialist in gynecology or urology with a sub-specialty in reproductive medicine. The Japanese Medical Specialty Board launched new specialty training programs in core specialty areas in April 2018. In sub-specialty areas, the certification system is also scheduled to shift to a new system under the Japanese Medical Specialty Board. I would like to reform and improve the system by leveraging my previous experience.

As you know, the society's English-version journal "Reproductive Medicine and Biology" became searchable in PubMed. Since the journal can now be cited widely as an international journal, we are going to accelerate the process of acquiring the journal's impact factor. I think that reproductive medicine is inextricably linked to bioethics. As well as responding to the requests of couples, we need to listen to diverse values and perform ethically acceptable practice. Following the standpoint of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, we are going to address these outstanding concerns one by one. It is also necessary to focus on both inside and outside of Japan. Different systems and values are brought to Japan in various ways, and ARTs are likely to change gradually in the future. We should respond appropriately to such changes as a responsible organization. Pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare require the cooperation of a couple. The limited number of urologists specializing in male infertility is a major issue, and the enlightenment of male partners will also be a future challenge. We would like to provide information to more couples by enriching our website and giving public lectures.

Forty years have passed since Louise Joy Brown, the world's first successful IVF baby, was born on July 25, 1978, which means that IVF has reached a milestone of its own. I think that next-generation fertility such as the fertility of boys born through IVF treatment is going to attract attention. The environment surrounding medical care is rapidly changing, including implementation of genomic medicine, insurance coverage for expensive molecular targeted drugs and immune checkpoint inhibitors, and the broad expansion of indications for robotic-assisted surgery. Eleven hospitals were designated as core hospitals for cancer genomic medicine in 2018, suggesting that this is a milestone year for genomic medicine as well. However, we need to address how to deal with potential incidental detection of germline mutations, so-called secondary findings, by gene panel testing. As well as having an impact on genetic counseling, it can also have an impact on reproductive medicine. We hope to contribute to the community through responsible activities not only within the boundaries of reproductive medicine but also in a wider area, as an expert group on reproductive medicine.

Your guidance is essential to help us tackle these challenges. I would greatly appreciate your continued support and cooperation.

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