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April 26, 2019

RIKEN establishes joint laboratory for natural products and chemical biology in China’s Zhejiang Province

On April 19, 2019, an opening ceremony for a joint laboratory that will conduct research in the area of natural products and chemical biology was held at the Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City.

In 2016, the management committee of the Sci-Tech City, which is responsible for the development of the huge science park with a total area of 123 square kilometers, reached out to the Chemical Biology Research Group led by Hiroyuki Osada, Deputy Director of RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, inviting him to participate in the project. In September 2018, RIKEN signed a joint statement with the management committee and Zhejiang Ivy Institute of Technology.

Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City is home to some 9,000 IT companies including Alibaba, which is famous in the world of internet sales and IT finance, as well as many universities including Zhejiang University, Zhejiang Institute of Technology, Hangzhou Normal University, leading it to be known as China’s Silicon Valley. Hangzhou City Government hopes to also make it a center of life sciences and the medical and health industry, and it is for this reason that RIKEN was invited. According to Osada, "This project represents the first large-scale collaboration between RIKEN and a local government overseas, and represents a new milestone in the institute’s internationalization. As such it is very exciting for us."

The joint laboratory will conduct research to identify useful substances from natural compounds collected from microorganisms and plants, with the goal to promote new drug discovery. China is famous for its traditional medicine, and there is a high demand for research in this area. RIKEN hopes to make this joint laboratory a hub for medicinal natural product chemistry research in China.

The opening ceremony was held at the Marriott Hotel in the Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City with about 150 attendees from both countries. Congratulatory speeches were given by a representative of the Japanese government Takamoto Fukuda, Consul, Political, Economic and Public & Cultural Chief, Consulate General of Japan, Shanghai, and by representatives of the Ministry of Science and Technology of P.R. China and Zhejiang Local Government. From RIKEN, Executive Director Motoko Kotani gave an address, Kazuo Shinozaki, Director of the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science presented a lecture, and Hiroyuki Osada announced the research plans of the joint laboratory.

photo of participants of the opening ceremony

The participants of the opening ceremony (credit: Zhejiang Ivy Institute of Technology)

picture of a lecture by Hiroyuki Osada

Hiroyuki Osada announcing the research plans of the joint laboratory