There is no greater joy as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Antibiotics than to publish a special edition that publicly honors the research achievements and accomplishments of Professor Arnold (Arny) Demain. I am very fortunate because my connection with Arny stretches back to the earliest days of my research career.

In March 1971, following the recommendations and help of the late Dr Yukimasa Yagisawa (Executive Director of JARA and Managing Editor of Journal of Antibiotics, the father of Dr Morimasa Yagisawa), I left Japan for the first time on a research trip to North America. I traveled with Dr Tetsuo Watanabe, and for me it was a venture that has had an immeasurable and everlasting impact, both professionally and personally. In the United States and Canada, I presented a series of lectures at several major institutes; a stop off in Montreal, Canada, gave me the opportunity to take part in a symposium on antibiotics. All the while I was serving my main purpose of meeting leading and active antibiotics researchers in North America. The consequences of these meetings were deeper relations, collaborative research projects and a lifetime of positive influence.

Most fortunate of all, I was able to meet Arny Demain, then a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). My clearest memory and most astonishing impression was when I first saw him giving the closing remarks at a symposium wearing a crimson red jacket! Not only had I never before witnessed a Professor wearing such a jacket but I had also not yet seen nor heard the highly perceptive criticism that he delivered, subject by subject, across the entire symposium. That fascinating mix of novelty and insight created a deep and lasting impression. I was completely captivated by this powerful, knowledgeable, yet seemingly open and approachable presence. From that time on, I have always held him in the highest regard and my research life has been blessed with the heartfelt amity he has unfailingly extended. I will be forever thankful for and appreciative of the warm friendship that has developed and deepened between us over the past 40 years.

Of special note are Arny's preeminent skills and reputation as a teacher and leader; he treats young people who approach him with humanity and fairness. By promoting positive interactions between people, he has helped guide innumerable students to success in their research, and he is revered by all who know him. The continuous stream of students from Asia, including Japan, who have sought to study under him over past decades have helped create the unique and devoted ‘Arny's Army’, which is indicative of what a great mentor he is and how profoundly he is appreciated.

It is, of course, clear that Arny is a world-class leader in applied microbiology, or what is now called biotechnology. This includes enzyme fermentation, biosynthesis of antibiotics, vitamins, amino acids, nucleotides, microbial nutrition, industrial fermentations, regulatory mechanisms and genetic engineering of fermentation microorganisms. Naturally, his unparalleled contribution and body of work has led to him receiving innumerable honors. Indeed, he is being awarded the highest honor given to outstanding foreign researchers and educators by the Japanese government—the 3rd Zuiho-sho prize (Order of the Sacred Treasure—Neck Ribbon with Gold rays)—an honor rarely given that he richly deserves.

I would also like to emphasize that the development of the Journal of Antibiotics, from its very earliest days, owes a great debt of gratitude to the dedication and cooperation of Arny and many other American applied microbiologists. I will not forget this as I continue in my task of editing the Journal and I trust that future holders of this responsibility will likewise recognize the scientific giants and committed individuals who nurtured the early development of the Journal.

I pray that Arny, Jody and their family will continue to enjoy the best of health, and I wish them everlasting happiness. On behalf of myself, all our readers, contributors and staff involved in the production of the Journal, I would like to humbly request that Arny continues to support and guide us, and that we can all be viewed as honorary, proud and devoted members of ‘Arny's Army’.