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September 27, 2011

RIKEN OSC and Kitasato University sign joint research agreement

In an effort to support the recovery of research labs affected by the recent earthquake in Japan, the RIKEN Omics Science Center (OSC) has signed a comprehensive agreement with the Kitasato University School of Marine Biosciences toward the pursuit of joint research and exchange of students. The agreement provides a much-needed boost to students and researchers in areas around Kitasato University's Sanriku Campus devastated by the recent disaster.

Located on an elevation overlooking Yoshihama Bay in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, Kitasato University's Sanriku Campus, home to the university's School of Marine Biosciences, has long played a key role in the local fisheries industry through its research activities in the region. While buildings on the campus remained standing after the March 11th earthquake, student housing along the coast was destroyed by the subsequent tsunami. The difficulties faced by students forced the university to relocate its operations at Sanriku Campus to its Sagamihara Campus, 60 kilometers west of central Tokyo, for a period of five years, pending the progress of reconstruction efforts.

The new agreement, based on a proposal from the RIKEN OSC and discussions between Kitasato University Professor Sei-ichi Okumura and OSC Director Yoshihide Hayashizaki, sets out to ease the burden of this transition by creating new opportunities for students and researchers at the School of Marine Biosciences. It does so through a plan for joint research on the genomic analysis of aquatic life, and through a program, started in July, whereby the OSC will accept students from Professor Okumura's Laboratory of Fish Genetics and Breeding Biology, formerly located at the Sanriku Campus. (The OSC has been accepting students from devastated areas throughout the Tohoku region since March 30th.)

Signed on September 28 and covering a period of one year and nine months from July, 2011 until March, 2013, the new agreement is evidence of the OSC's continuing commitment to supporting researchers and laboratories in devastated areas of Japan. By connecting two institutions around an exciting new area of research, the agreement transforms the misfortune of a catastrophic national disaster into a new opportunity, offering hope to Sanriku Campus students and researchers and inspiration for new scientific advances in the marine biosciences.

About the Omics Science Center

Omics is the comprehensive study of molecules in living organisms. The complete sequencing of genomes (the complete set of genes in an organism) has enabled rapid developments in the collection and analysis of various types of comprehensive molecular data such as transcriptomes (the complete set of gene expression data) and proteomes (the complete set of intracellular proteins). Fundamental omics research aims to link these omics data to molecular networks and pathways in order to advance the understanding of biological phenomena as systems at the molecular level.

Here at the RIKEN Omics Science Center, we are developing a versatile analysis system, called the "Life Science Accelerator (LSA)", with the objective of advancing omics research. LSA is a multi-purpose, large-scale analysis system that rapidly analyzes molecular networks. It collects various genome-wide data at high throughput from cells and other biological materials, comprehensively analyzes experimental data, and thereby aims to elucidate the molecular networks of the sample. The term "accelerator" was chosen to emphasize the strong supporting role that this system will play in supporting and accelerating life science research worldwide.

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The agreement was signed by Yoshihide Hayashizaki, Director of RIKEN OSC (right) and Takehiko Ogata, Dean of the Kitasato University School of Marine Biosciences (left).