AAI President's Message

Wayne M. YokoyamaWayne M. Yokoyama, M.D.

Sam J. and Audrey Loew Levin Professor of Medicine
and Professor of Pathology and Immunology
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

AAI President, 2017-2018

“The Times They Are A-Changin’” — Bob Dylan, 1964

 

We live in unprecedented times. In an era of “fake news,” the world order we knew in the not-so-distant past is being altered. Although change is not necessarily bad, much that has occurred recently seems ominous. In particular, the attack on science and attempts to distort scientific evidence should be of major concern to us as scientists, as physicians, … as immunologists.

This is a time when we need to unite as members of AAI. We can do much more together than individually to resist the attack on science and to help show that science is about finding the truth and advancing the human condition for the benefit of all—now and in the future. To this end, I encourage you all to remind yourselves (or discover) what AAI does for us as immunologists and as members of the broader scientific community.

Briefly, as the world’s largest professional society for immunologists, AAI advocates in Washington on behalf of science and all of us as researchers. It supports professional development and works to enhance diversity in the field. AAI successfully disseminates important scientific information at our annual meetings and through our journals. Each year, AAI introduces the excitement of immunology to scientists who attend our Introductory and Advanced Courses in Immunology, and even to high school students through our High School Teachers Program. And AAI continues to develop new courses and programs to assist the field, such as the “AAI Course in Big Data Analysis in Immunology” which launched this year.

I want to highlight The Journal of Immunology, the flagship journal of our society for over 100 years and the most highly cited journal in the field. Beyond publishing important research, it is the policy of The JI to peer review virtually all submitted manuscripts, thereby providing a valuable educational service through feedback to authors at all career stages. Earlier this year, AAI launched a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, ImmunoHorizons. I ask all of you to publish your papers in AAI journals just as I have been doing, not only to help disseminate timely scientific information but also to support AAI and its many invaluable programs.

Meanwhile, we are experiencing a time of great excitement with the successful application of immunology in the clinic. The unprecedented success of immunotherapy in treating cancers is the most recent—and astounding—example of why it is crucial to understand how the immune system works in health and disease. From groundbreaking basic research on how T cells work and how cancer could exploit these pathways to evade the immune system, to the translation of these concepts to the clinic, AAI members clearly played visionary and leading roles. And I believe that AAI itself, through its advocacy, programs, and support of its members, should receive some credit, at least in a small way, for these advances. We can look forward to future developments in immunology that will improve human health in other areas as diverse as autoimmunity, infections, vaccines, and aging—among others—knowing that many of these advances will be made by AAI members with some help from AAI itself.

The continued success of AAI depends on dedicated member-volunteers, with support and direction from our terrific professional staff led by AAI Executive Director Michele Hogan. I hope more of you will find the time to help give back during these challenging times. Together we can work diligently to fend off the attacks on science.

I am honored to be your President. Thank you all for your support of AAI, and I look forward to working with you in the upcoming year.

(Posted July 2017)