Farewell message from Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Founding Chair of GHIT
Five years ago, when I joined GHIT as founding Chair, we were in uncharted waters. GHIT was an entirely new venture – the first of its kind. I took a leap of faith because I was confident (as I remain today) in the power of innovative public-private partnerships, and in the institution’s mission and vision.
The fact that GHIT is funded by Japanese pharma, Japanese government, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust is truly unique. Such a balance of stakeholders required us to build a uniquely transparent governance structure at the very start, one which continues to serve us well five years later.
When I talk about this balance of funding and GHIT’s unique stakeholder group with young Japanese people interested in global health, it is always exciting to see their mindset immediately go global. They begin, as we did, with a vision to leverage Japanese science and technology to transform health in the developing world, and then they become invigorated and inspired by the global partnerships that vision makes possible. In this way, young Japanese people see themselves in the solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, alongside colleagues from all around the globe.
Indeed, GHIT’s distinct identity as both a Japanese and international institution has played a key role in our success. Our Board members are international, our CEO’s experience spans both cultures and borders, and our management team runs according to international gold standards of business. Navigating this identity has not been without operational challenges, but I am proud to say that in surmounting the many obstacles associated with pioneering a new model we only become stronger.
After 5 years, we have more than 40 products in our pipeline leveraging Japanese science and pharmaceutical capabilities for breakthrough innovation for infectious diseases and NTDs. These numbers continue to inspire me. All our stakeholders have noted the value of the organization’s impact, evidenced clearly by our funders’ recommitment for GHIT’s second five-year phase.
At this five-year mark, I am satisfied by all we have built. I am grateful to the Council, Board, Selection Committee, Advisory Panel, other funding partners, sponsors, development partners, and critically to Dr. BT Slingbsy and his team for their tireless work and commitment. And while GHIT’s work continues, I have decided that now is the right time for me to move on. I can only do this knowing that I am passing my baton onto Dr. Hiroki Nakatani, whom I have known for over 20 years and trust deeply.
While today I hand over the reins of the day-to-day duties as Chair of the Board, in all my current and future capacities I will forever remain an ambassador for GHIT’s work and vision.
June 6, 2018