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It is a great pleasure for me to participate in this Internet World Congress on Biomedical Sciences, the fifth conference, and the first to be centred outside Japan. Canada's participation in this Congress is an expression of the close relationship between Canada and Japan, one that builds on the partnership we have established over the past year in the neurosciences.
It is appropriate that McMaster University be the host of this virtual meeting. From the very start, McMaster's school of medicine has shown itself to be a pioneer in adopting new methods of training physicians and researchers, new methods that have shown themselves to be extremely successful. Now, McMaster is showing itself equally adept at adopting new methods of sharing information among scientists.
As a life-long researcher, I have always valued the opportunity to meet with, and discuss my work with, my fellow-researchers. Much of the discovery process in biomedical research takes place in the laboratory but it is in leaving the laboratory, in submitting one's ideas to the rigorous evaluation of one's peers, that discovery moves the next step forward.
It would be difficult to find such a range of researchers, such a range of symposia, such a range of exhibits in one physical gathering not to mention finding the time to hear all the speakers, view all the poster sessions, and even participate in the fun and tours!
Modern technology has given us unparalleled opportunities to foster the interchange of ideas. I applaud the Internet Association for Biomedical Sciences, and in particular Professor Sumio Murase, for being so quick to identify the potential for using the Internet to promote the exchange of scientific findings and to foster communication among researchers.
We in the Canadian biomedical research field are also seeking ways to incorporate the benefits of modern technology into how we do business. The Medical Research Council of Canada has proposed the formation of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, a virtual network that would bring together all members of Canada's health research community from the laboratories in our universities, through emerging companies, to the most established industries in a joint effort to advance the state of knowledge and to benefit the health and well-being of people around the world. In a country as vast as our own, the Internet can help us to reduce fragmentation and duplication of efforts and promote coordination and cooperation -- just as it can do with the larger international community of researchers.
Five hundred years ago, the great explorers sailed the seas to discover what lay under the mantle of terra incognita. Today, the great explorers are seeking, not new lands, but new ways to see the world. This Internet Congress is opening a world of discovery, on a computer monitor.
I encourage all visitors to the Congress to spend some time here, attend the symposia, participate in discussion groups, view the poster sessions and exhibits and realize how fortunate today's researchers are to have all this at the click of a mouse.
DR. HENRY FRIESEN
MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA