In the late summer of 2002, Professor Hong Kyu Lee of the Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine wrote me an e-mail. He asked for my opinion about the idea to establish the Asian Society for Mitochondrial Research and Medicine (ASMRM). I immediately replied him and expressed my enthusiasm to work together with me to make his vision a reality. Professor Lee communicated frequently with me and Dr. Masashi Tanaka in the following months. Dr. Tanaka approached the Japanese Society for Mitochondrial Research and Medicine (J-Mit) and arranged a meeting with the members J-Mit during the 2002 annual Meeting of the Japanese Biochemical Society held in Kyoto. At a small restaurant, myself, Professors Dongchon Kang, Yusaku Nakabeppu, Shigeo Ohta, Masashi Tanaka and Hong Kyu Lee agreed to establish ASMRM, acknowledging the emerging needs of establishing a society to serve the research scientists and clinicians who are involved in mitochondrial research.and medicine. We hammered out the Bylaws of the ASMRM and confirmed the support of. J-Mit. The Society website www.asmrm.org was established in early January, 2003. Owing to the tireless effort of Professor Lee and his colleagues, enough funding was secured to organize the First ASMRM Conference in Seoul on February 5-6, 2003. Before official opening of the Conference, the founding members of the ASMRM and most of the invited foreign speakers were invited to attend a business meeting from 5:00 to 7:00 pm on February 4. Professor Lee made a report on the conception, formation and organization of the ASMRM. The Bylaw of the Society was read and approved. He was then elected as the First President of the ASMRM, and Prof. Yau-Huei Wei and Dr. Masashi Tanaka were elected as the Vice-Presidents. They were entitled to serve the Society for one term of 3 years.
Renowned scientists and clinicians from the United States, Italy, Japan, China, Russia and Taiwan were among the 150 plus participants of the First ASMRM Conference. The conference was composed of lectures and a workshop to discuss about the establishment of a network for international collaboration on diagnosis and research of mitochondrial diseases. The participants shared the enthusiasm in gaining a better understanding of the qualitative and quantitative alterations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with a hope to solve the mysteries of life and many diseases in humans. Under the leadership of Prof. Hong Kyu Lee, the first Scientific Meeting of ASMRM was a great success. The proceedings have been published in 2004 as volume 1011 of The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
At the concluding session of the First Scientific Meeting of ASMRM, it was proposed by the executive board members of ASMRM that the Second ASMRM Conference be held in Taiwan. With the strong support of President Hong Kyu Lee and many senior members of the Society, Prof. Chung Y. Hsu, President of Taipei Medical University, agreed to serve as the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Second ASMRM Conference. With his excellent academic standing and close ties with scientists in the field, he was very successful in inviting top-notched scientists and generated a scientific program covering a wide spectrum of topics, which included mitochondrial disease models, mitochondrial genome, mitochondrial functions, oxidative stress, antioxidants and apoptosis. A website was established maintained by a group of young faculty members of Taipei Medical University for the Second ASMRM Conference. The Conference was held on April 1-2, 2004 in Taipei International Convention Center, Taipei, Taiwan. The scientific program featured one keynote address, 3 plenary lectures, 4 special lectures and more than 100 free papers contributed by investigators from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, as well as other countries. More than 150 scientists and clinicians attended the Conference. Review articles written by invited speakers and some original papers presented in the 2nd ASMRM Conference were edited by Profs. Yau-Huei Wei, Horng-Mo Lee and Chung Y. Hsu, and published in 2005 as volume 1042 of The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
At the closing ceremony of the Second ASMRM Conference, it was decided that the Third ASMRM Conference will be held jointly with the Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society for Mitochondrial Research in the winter of 2005. Dr. Masashi Tanaka kindly took up the responsibility to form an organizing committee in the early Spring and started working on the scientific program. He and his colleagues have been working very hard in the past several months to reserve the meeting rooms at Toshi Center Hotel, Tokyo and invited many eminent scientists to give lectures at this Conference. At the time this article was written, about 100 abstracts had been submitted by scientists from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States as shown in the website of this Conference: https://www.j-mit.org/modules/tinyd1/index.php?id=5. From the program and abstracts of the lectures and posters, we can anticipate high-quality presentations of updated research on mitochondrial roles in human health, aging and diseases. Owing to the great effort of Dr. Tanaka and other members of the Organizing Committee, the scientific program was of very high quality. As expected, the meeting was a great success. Some of the lectures have been solicited by Dr. Tanaka and Dr. Majima for publication in two volumes of Mitochondrion.
With the superb leadership of Prof. Hong Kyu Lee and enthusiastic support of our Korean colleagues, the 4th ASMRM Meeting was held in Seoul again. As Prof. Lee invited many renowned scientists from Europe and the US (including Prof. Douglas C. Wallace) as the keynote speakers, the meeting attracted many new faces from Korean universities and research institutes. The financial support of Korean government agencies and Mitocon Co. are instrumental to the success of this meeting. It is worth mentioning that there were many young scientists participating at the meeting.
At the ASMRM council meeting held during the 4th ASMRM Meeting, it was decided that the 5th ASMRM Meeting be held in Tianjin, China. To avoid the difficulties in organizing the meeting during or near the Summer Olympics Games, Prof. Yong Zhang and Prof. Shu-sen Liu decided to hold the meeting in early November 2008. I personally traveled to China twice to discuss with the local organizing committee members about the program and logistics of the meeting. I am sure that the lectures, poster presentations and discussions in this Conference will bring us most updated information and inspire our society members and friends to engage in various aspects of mitochondrial research from bioenergetic, cell biology and medicine. On behalf of the ASMRM, I would like to welcome all of you to attend this Conference and wish that your stay in Tianjin, China is fruitful in scientific endeavor and enjoyable in experiencing Chinese old civilization and unique culture.
by Dr. Yau-Huei Wei, Former Presesident (2006-2008)
November 26, 2008