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January 28, 2011

RIKEN to hold booth, press event at AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.

RIKEN, Japan's largest comprehensive research institute devoted to the natural sciences, will hold a booth and press event at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), taking place in Washington D.C. on February 17-21. RIKEN's presence at the AAAS will provide an opportunity to showcase the people and organization behind a string of high-profile research efforts making headlines this year.

Antimatter, genetic cloning, brain science, supercomputing — Japan's flagship research institute is at the forefront of cutting-edge research efforts across a wide range of scientific fields. An extensive network of world-class centers and institutes, hundreds of labs and sophisticated infrastructure spread out across Japan places RIKEN among the world's most advanced research organizations.

In the past year, researchers and research teams at RIKEN have made headlines with groundbreaking discoveries and inventions. In November, a team of researchers with Yasunori Yamazaki at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute (ASI) played a central role in this year's first-ever successful trapping of antihydrogen at CERN. Meanwhile, researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) with Keiji Tanaka attracted worldwide attention with their work on expert intuition, which identified specific regions of the brain involved in granting board game experts their superior skill.

On hand at the AAAS will be two scientists involved in further cutting-edge research at RIKEN. ASI researcher Yoichi Yamada will discuss his team's work on a new "micro-reaction chip", which uses a technique known as "Suzuki-Miyaura coupling", invented by Nobel prize-winning scientist Akira Suzuki, as the basis for a revolutionary technique for conducting chemical reactions. Another unique approach developed at RIKEN, the application of heavy-ion beams to plant and microbial breeding, will be discussed by Hiroyuki Ichida of the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science.

Washington D.C. offers an ideal location to showcase these research efforts. Nearly 100 years ago, Jokichi Takamine, a key contributor to the foundation of RIKEN and one of the most important figures in Japanese science, donated 3000 cherry trees to D.C. whose blossoms are today enjoyed by visitors from around world. The trees remain a powerful symbol both of the strong ties between America and Japan, and of the role RIKEN scientists have played in transforming these ties into world-class science.