At the National Institute for Basic Biology, the senior faculty initiated a discussion in 2002 about the needs, in Japan, for a series of international conferences, at which leading scientists would come together to discuss the most recent advances in specified fields of research. No such conferences are currently held on a regular basis in Japan and Asia. We decided that the National Institute for Basic Biology should sponsor a series of such conferences. This proposal was forwarded to a number of Japanese societies of biological science and they strongly supported our suggestion that the National Institute for Basic Biology should organize and host the conferences.