In late March 2023, a contingent of 7 CSPS members from Canadian universities travelled to attend and present at the joint Canada-Japan International Symposium at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (PSJ), held March 25 – 28, 2023 at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

With PSJ serving as Japan’s National pharmaceutical society for over a century, the CSPS contingent heard talks by many distinguished professors from across Japan, who they also had access to at the symposium. The conference featured keynote and award-winning lectures, a joint symposium of the PSJ and the Korean Pharmaceutical Society, and Young Scientist Networking events, along with peer-reviewed selected academic research abstract presentations (oral and poster). One highlight for CSPS attendees was attending the Keynote invited lecture delivered by Canadian scientist Dr. Pieter Cullis from the University of British Columbia, Canada on Drug Delivery Systems.

The conference sessions culminated with the joint Canada-Japan International Symposium [IS03] between PSJ and CSPS. Organized by academic members from both societies, the theme of “Molecular and Preclinical imaging and the Pharmaceutical Sciences” was chosen in order to maintain the momentum developed by this Special Interest Group (SIG), who have maintained this theme across 3 successive annual CSPS and PSJ conferences to date.

Our sincere thanks to the PSJ Executive for the inclusion of our CSPS members in their Annual Meeting, and to the CSPS Board of Directors and President Dr. Neal Davies for encouraging this initiative. We look forward to hosting reciprocal PSJ delegates from Japan at our upcoming CSPS Annual Symposium in Toronto May 24 – 26, 2023. (Introduction by Prof. Michael Doschak, CSPS Lead, PSJ-CSPS International Symposium).

CSPS Delegation at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan at the University of Hokkaido, Japan. From left to right: Prof. Michael Doschak [UofA], Seyed (Amir) Dakhili [UofA], Prof. Tomoya Uehara [Chiba University], Kayla Kitselman [Memorial University of Newfoundland], Prof. Yoshinobu Takakura [Kyoto University], Adibeh Ghazanfari [UofA], Conor O’Croinin [UofA], Prof. Noriko Daneshtalab [Memorial University of Newfoundland], Ruikun Tang [UofA].


Article by CSPS member Conor O’Croinin (MSc student, University of Alberta, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

The 2023 PSJ-CSPS symposium in Sapporo, Japan was an amazing academic and life experience. Japan’s rich culture and history provided a spectacular backdrop for the conference which offered me a chance to experience new perspectives and broaden my knowledge and understanding of academia and industry in one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets. The conference sessions enriched my understanding of a variety of topics, from drug delivery to the use of natural products to pain transmission. A standout presentation for me was by Dr. Pieter Cullis from the University of British Columbia who shared with us his research related to using lipid nanoparticles to provide more effective gene therapies. International speakers like Dr. Cullis were able to bring their work to an audience that they may not have reached without this conference, and the Japanese speakers from universities such as Hokkaido University shared with us all some of the most cutting-edge pharmaceutical research that I have had the pleasure of witnessing. The local Japanese students helped me to immerse myself in the culture and customs of Sapporo and make connections with people that I will remember and collaborate with for years to come. Overall, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan in planning and executing such a successful conference and express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all who gave me the opportunity to participate.

CSPS Contingent with Canadian Keynote Speaker Dr. Pieter Cullis (centre) at the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan at the University of Hokkaido, Japan.

Article by CSPS member Kayla A. Kitselman (PhD Candidate Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Throughout 2020 and 2021, I had the pleasure of working with members of PSJ on developing the trainee sessions for the joint CSPS/ PSJ/ C-CRS symposium in May of 2021. However, because of the pandemic this symposium was virtual and we never got the chance to meet in person. For me, attending the 143rd annual meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (PSJ), in Sapporo Japan was a long-awaited chance to strengthen the connections I made during that time and as well as experience the novelty of how different cultures operate their academics. I was delighted to meet the former president of PSJ that I had worked with in 2021 and although my co-chair from that time was unable to attend, we stayed in touch as she recommended some of the best places to visit and eat during my stay. During the meeting I had the chance to attend sessions in English from researchers all over the world discussing everything from natural products research to latest in vaccine development. I also attended sessions, relevant to my direct field of work, that were presented in Japanese and followed along with the help of google translate. I was captivated by a lecture from Dr. Pieter Cullis discussed how his career led him towards the development of lipid nanoparticles that are used in mRNA vaccines today. After the talk we even had the opportunity to meet Dr. Cullis and introduce ourselves to the 2022 Canada Gairdner International Award winner. I also had the chance to meet many students, share my research and learn about what they are researching during the PSJ-CSPS poster session. I was also lucky enough to have a tour of the organic chemistry labs the students worked in, an eye-opening experience to how different a research space can be set up for the same goals. During this session we made connections with students who later took us to experience Sapporo’s famous Ramen. Aside from the academic experience at the conference I was able to spend time visiting the breathtaking Sapporo and immersing myself in a different culture completely outside my comfort zone. The self-development I experienced when traveling to a completely different culture that speaks a language unfamiliar to me will follow me throughout my life. I commend PSJ for putting together a captivating, highly attended, and exceptionally organized meeting. I would like to thank the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharm Sciences (FoPPS), Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences (CSPS), and PSJ for allowing me this unique opportunity for growth both personally and academically.

Article by CSPS member Ruikun Tang (PhD student, University of Alberta, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Our experience at the 2023 PSJ-CSPS symposium in Sapporo, Japan held at Hokkaido University was truly enriching, and we are immensely grateful for the support and honor bestowed upon us by our respective Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharm Sciences (FoPPS), CSPS, and PSJ. One of the highlights of the conference was the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers during the academic sessions, including renowned experts like Dr. Pieter Cullis, Dr. Xiaoguang Lei, and Dr. Gong Chen, who shared their cutting-edge research and perspectives on the latest advancements in the field. The emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of technology in pharmacy practice was particularly inspiring, highlighting the evolving landscape of the field. Presenting a poster at the conference’s poster session was another significant opportunity for us to engage with fellow attendees, including esteemed professors and fellow students. The thought-provoking discussions and feedback enriched our research and fostered meaningful connections, with potential collaborations being established. The collaborative environment at the conference encouraged active participation in discussions and engagement with professionals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. In addition to the academic sessions and poster presentation, the connections and interactions we had with fellow attendees were invaluable. We were able to network with professionals from different backgrounds and cultures, fostering meaningful conversations and establishing special connections, and were able to meet many Japanese friends. The team connection person, Dr. Michael Doschak, facilitated introductions and interactions with Canadian professors and students, further enhancing the collaborative atmosphere of the conference. We are grateful for the platform provided by the conference to showcase our research and expand our knowledge in the field of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, thanks to the support of our respective institutions.


Article by CSPS delegate Dr. Seyed Amirhossein Tabatabaei Dakhili (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

My experience in Japan was beyond incredible, and participating in the joint conference of PSJ-CSPS was a valuable opportunity that broadened my research horizons and provided me with new perspectives. Meeting other experts in my field and being exposed to the latest advancements in diabetes drug discovery and medicinal chemistry was exhilarating.

My trip to Japan left me with a deep admiration for the country’s leadership in pharmaceutical sciences. Attending the conference gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the brightest minds in this profession, which I consider a wonderful honor. Cutting-edge research at Japanese universities and research institutes, as well as pioneering work by Japanese pharmaceutical companies, demonstrate the country’s commitment to improving the discipline and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. One of the things that stood out to me about the conference was the diversity of attendees. There were scientists and researchers from all over the world, representing a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. It was a captivating experience to gain insight into the work being conducted in different parts of the world and to learn from specialists in disciplines that I may not have encountered otherwise.

The conference organizers impeccably balanced the scientific agenda with chances for socializing and cultural exploration. The event featured several social events, and one of the most remarkable ones was the opportunity to indulge in various sushi delicacies of Japanese cuisine. Being an aficionado of seafood, I felt euphoric to have the chance to relish the freshness and deliciousness of diverse sushi types. It was a splendid occasion to explore the local flavors and comprehend the food culture of Sapporo and Japan. Besides the culinary experience, these social events facilitated networking and establishing connections with other students. The conference provided a chance to connect with students from diverse regions and learn about their backgrounds, research, and perspectives. The environment was warm and inviting, and I considered these gatherings to be valuable additions to my overall conference experience.

During my trip to Sapporo for the PSJ-CSPS joint meeting, I was lucky enough to take a day trip to Tokyo, which turned out to be an unforgettable experience. I have always wanted to witness the beauty of the cherry blossom season in Tokyo, and my dream came true as I beheld the breathtaking sight of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The delicate white and pink flowers adorned the streets of Tokyo, creating an exquisite sight to behold. I spent hours exploring the city, taking pictures, and immersing myself in the vibrant atmosphere.

To sum up, the conference was a tremendous triumph, and I departed feeling motivated and stimulated by the new knowledge and perspectives I had acquired. I am thankful for the chance to have participated in such a riveting, interactive, and enlightening occasion, and I eagerly anticipate future PSJ-CSPS joint conferences.

Article by CSPS delegate Dr. Adibehalsadat Ghazanfari (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Overview: The 143rd Annual Meeting of PSJ was held on 23-28 March 2023 at Hokkaido University, Japan. The conference’s main purpose was to bring together experts from different fields to share their knowledge and experience. The goal of my attendance was to learn about the latest developments in my field of study and to network with fellow researchers.

Sessions: I attended several sessions during the conference, including:

  1. Oh Uhteak (KIST University) (Pharmacology/Physiology).
  2. Xiaoguang Lei (Peking University, China) (Organic chemistry)
  3. Pieter Cullis (University of British Columbia, Canada) (DDS)
  4. Jorn Piel (ETH, Switzerland) (Natural Product/Organic Chemistry)

Each session featured presentations from experts in the field, who shared their research and insights on pharmaceutical sciences. The sessions provided me with new knowledge and ideas to apply to my research.

Keynote Speakers: The conference featured several keynote speakers, in Molecular and Preclinical imaging in the pharmaceutical sciences including:

  1. Tomoya Uehara (Gra. Sch. Pharm. Sci, Chiba Univ, Japan)
  2. Noriko Daneshtalab (Memorial Univ, Newfoundland, Canada)
  3. Michael Doschak (The Unive. Alberta, Canada)
  4. Yoshinoba Takakura (Kyoto Unive. Japan)

And the chairpersons:

  • Tomoya Uehara (Gra. Sch. Pharm. Sci, Chiba Univ, Japan)
  • Noriko Daneshtalab (Memorial Univ, Newfoundland, Canada)

Each speaker gave a thought-provoking presentation on Molecular and Preclinical imaging which sparked important discussions among the attendees.

Poster Sessions: The poster sessions were an excellent opportunity to showcase my own research and to learn about the research being conducted by others. I presented my research on synthesis, characterization, and preclinical invivo measurement of bone-seeking Gd2O3 nanoparticles as medical imaging contrast agents, generating interest and valuable feedback from other researchers. I also had the chance to learn about exciting research projects from other attendees during the poster sessions.

Networking: The conference provided numerous opportunities to network with fellow researchers, including during a dinner party (Japanese cuisine) on March 27 together with young researchers (students) from Asia (Malaysia, Thai and Taiwan). I had the chance to meet and exchange ideas with researchers from around the world, which was a valuable experience.

Feedback: Overall, I found the conference to be well-organized and informative. The sessions were engaging, and the keynote speakers were excellent. The poster sessions were also well-attended and provided valuable feedback.

Conclusion: Attending the 143rd Annual Meeting of PSJ, Hokkaido University, Japan was a valuable experience for me. I gained new knowledge, made new connections, and had the chance to present my own research. The conference also served as a foundation for future collaborations between the University of Alberta, Canada and Hokkaido, Japan. I am grateful to the University of Alberta for providing me with such an opportunity to participate in such a prestigious event. Furthermore, I appreciate the support from the Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences department that enabled me to undertake this journey. Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Michael Doschak, my supervisor, for serving as the primary sponsor and leader for this conference. I look forward to attending future conferences and continuing to engage with the research community.