National Institute for Basic Biology


We present here the 1996 Annual Report describing the research activities of the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB) during the past year. The NIBB is a government supported basic research institute established in 1977. It aims to stimulate and promote the biological sciences, by conducting first-rate research as a center of excellence, and by cooperating with other universities and research organizations. The Institute concentrates on the study of cellular functions, reproduction and development, neuronal and environmental control, and gene expression and regulation in eukaryotic organisms at the molecular level.

During the past year, a new division, Speciation Mechanisms II, was added to the Laboratory of Gene Expression and Regulation and Drs. Ken-ichirou Morohashi and M. Hasebe were appointed as Professor and Associate Professor of the new division, respectively. At the same time, the construction of a new building for the Laboratory of Gene Expression and Regulation has been made efficiently and was completed at the end of 1996. As a result, the Laboratory has been completely established and the number of divisions at the NIBB has now reached 17 in total.

Including the above-mentioned appointments, the turnover of personnel has been high as usual. In April, Drs. Shigeru Iida and Yoshinori Ohsumi were appointed as Professor of the Division of Gene Expression and Regulation I and Professor of the Division of Bioenergetics, respectively. Professor Yoshiki Hotta (University of Tokyo) together with Associate Professor H. Okamoto (Keio University) of the Adjunct Division of Cellular Communication completed their term of office at the end of March and were followed by Professor Ritsu Kamiya (University of Tokyo). Professor Goro Eguchi of the Division of Morphogenesis was appointed as the President of Kumamoto University and left the NIBB in November. Drs. T. Yoshimori, M. Mimuro, M. Maejima (Nagoya University), T. Takai (Osaka University), T. Hattori (Mie University) and H. Wada (Kyushu University) were appointed as Associate Professor of the Division of Bioenergetics, the Division of Gene Expression and Regulation I, the Adjunct Division of Cell Fusion, the Adjunct Division of Developmental Biology and the Adjunct Division of Behavior and Neurobiology, respectively. Associate Professor H. Iida moved to Tokyo Gakugei University. Furthermore, we newly appointed 9 research associates, 6 institute research fellows and 2 research assistants, while 4 research associates and 6 institute research fellows moved to other institutions or positions.

The NIBB plays important roles as a national and international center for biological research and is responsible for conducting research projects in cooperation with research groups of various universities and institutes. As a part of such cooperative activities, the NIBB carried out Special Programs which are currently directed to "Adaptation and Resistance to Environment" and "Trans-differentiation of Tissue Cells." Based on these programs, the NIBB held the 36th and 37th Conferences entitled as "Stress Signaling and Stress Responses in Plants" (organized by Professor Norio Murata) and "Approaches to Gene Function Controlling Developmental Processes" (organized by Professor G. Eguchi), respectively.

In addition, the Institute sponsors symposia and study meetings on current topics at the interdisciplinary level by inviting leading scientists in various related fields, both nationally and internationally. In 1996, an International Symposium "New Prospects of Photobiology and the Future Plan of the Okazaki Large Spectrograph" was held at the NIBB, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture. The NIBB also provided a training course in bioscience for young investigators and participated in the International Science School for high school students of Asian-Pacific countries.

At the beginning of October, the Director-General together with Professor N. Murata visited Canberra to sign a "Memorandum of Understanding between the NIBB and the Australian National University" in order to promote international cooperation between the two institutions. In turn, in October and November, Professor Howard A. Bern of the University of California, Berkeley, and Professor C. Barry Osmond of the Australian National University visited Okazaki to conduct a peer review of the activities and the future plan of the NIBB. We welcome any suggestion and criticism concerning research activities of the NIBB from the outside.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Professor I. Takeuchi, the President of Okazaki National Research Institutes and the former Director-General of the NIBB, for being awarded the Minakata Kumagusu Prize for his pioneer work in developmental biology of the cellular slime mold. Professor (adjunct) M. Takeichi was awarded the Japan Academy Prize and the Uehara Prize for his excellent work on cadherins. In addition, Dr. H. Mohri was awarded a Purple Ribbon Medal for his contribution to reproductive biology.

Hideo Mohri, D. Sc.
Last Modified: 12:00, June 27, 1997