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Call for RIKEN ECL Team Leaders (Sechi Kato Program) – RIKEN Early Career Leaders Program (FY 2024)

[IMPORTANT NOTICE as of May 25, 2023]
The interview date for RIKEN ECL Team Leader has been changed from October 10 or 13 to October 10 or 18.

RIKEN offers junior Principal Investigator (PI) positions, RIKEN ECL Team Leaders (ECL Team Leaders), for exceptionally talented female researchers for a maximum of 7 years. The ECL Team Leaders are expected to engage in creative and ambitious research in natural and mathematical sciences and can include research areas bordering the humanities and social sciences, by leading their own independent research teams. Proposals intended to resolve urgent issues that humankind faces today are also welcome (for example, the United Nations SDGs).

This program is open to female researchers in natural and mathematical sciences and can include research areas bordering the humanities and social sciences.

-Who was Sechi Kato? – Sechi Kato (1893-1989) was a pioneering female scientist who developed spectrometric analysis of organic materials. She was also the first female Chief Scientist of RIKEN.

Number of openings

Up to one


Applicants should be talented female researchers who are able to engage in research at RIKEN on a full-time basis with the ability to manage their laboratories as PIs. A doctoral degree or an equivalent competence is required for this position.

Research environment

The ECL Team Leader will be allocated a research budget of 10 to 50 million yen per year depending on the research plan and the progress. The annual budget estimate is an average of 40 million yen but can be more after consultation. In addition, please indicate initial expenses in your application, as we will support a smooth start-up. The ECL Team Leader is assigned a laboratory space of up to 150 square meters in total at one of RIKEN’s branches in Japan. The final details will be decided through discussions with the RIKEN ECL Program subcommittees.

  • The ECL Team Leader receives assistance and advice from the chair of the RIKEN ECL Program subcommittee and mentors (assigned to each Team Leader) for setting up the research team and for day-to-day laboratory management matters.
  • The RIKEN ECL Program fosters stimulating interactions among the ECL Team/Unit Leaders from diverse backgrounds and encourages interdisciplinary exchange and collaborative research with scientists at and outside of RIKEN.
  • The ECL Team Leader is encouraged to take maximum advantage of the RIKEN research environment, such as applying for competitive grants and using shared facilities and equipment. Furthermore, in order to recruit students and postdoctoral researchers to their team, the ECL Team Leader is entitled to be on the list of laboratories accepting Special Postdoctoral Researchers, Junior Research Associates, International Program Associates, and RIKEN Student Researchers.
  • RIKEN promotes a Gender Equity Program by taking various measures to create an equitable workplace where both men and women are able to give full rein to their talents and abilities. The ECL Team Leaders who take maternity or childcare leave during their contract period may have their contract duration extended, in accordance with RIKEN regulations.
  • To ensure a variety of work styles and to accommodate life events, remote work may be available while in Japan under certain conditions. If you are interested, please indicate this in the application.

Start of employment

Employment starts on April 2024 or later, but no later than January 1, 2025.

Term of employment and salary

The maximum term of appointment is seven years.
In principle, the contract will be renewed every single fiscal year, but multiple-year contracts, which are limited up to five years by Japanese law, may be selected.
Annual salary is approximately 10 million yen per year (including social insurance premiums and tax). Commuting and housing allowances will be provided. Social insurance will be applied. Mandatory membership in the RIKEN Mutual Benefit Society (RIKEN Kyosaikai). These and other provisions are in accordance with RIKEN regulations. For more information, please visit the RIKEN website.

The ECL Team Leaders can apply for fixed-term PI and indefinite-term PI positions within RIKEN.

If a RIKEN employee with indefinite-term employment becomes an ECL Team Leader and the employee intends to continue their employment at RIKEN from the day after their employment contract as the ECL Team Leader ends, the employee may be appointed as a non-PI researcher with indefinite-term employment.

Application and required documents


  • 1.Applicant registration
    To register, access the website noted below, and enter the required basic information by June 19, 2023 (midnight, Japan time).
  • 2. After you have registered online, you will receive your user ID, registration number, and password via an email automatically sent from ecl-program[at]spdr-fpr.com. Go to the website shown in the email and upload your application documents.
    • You may revise your basic information and upload revised documents later if necessary.
    • Please double check, however, that you have successfully uploaded your final application documents by June 26, 2023 (3:00 p.m., Japan time).
    • None of the submitted documents will be returned.

[Required documents]
All application documents including recommendation letter should be prepared in English and uploaded in PDF format. Documents may be in black and white or color.

  • 1: Research proposal including initial expenses, budget estimate, equipment and facilities required for research, and staff members plan of the team (up to 6 pages, A4 size)
  • 2: List of publications, presentations, and achievements (including grants, patents, awards, etc.)
  • 3: Outline of most important achievements (1 page, A4 size)
  • 4: Representative papers (maximum of 5 papers)
  • 5: Consent form for handling personal information based on GDPR
    If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (the EU zone), you are required to submit the “Consent form for handling personal information based on GDPR” with your signature.
    *You will find detailed information about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the following website:
  • 6: Recommendation letters from three persons who can evaluate your work
    • References should send the recommendation letter directly to RIKEN. A request for a recommendation letter will be automatically sent to the email addresses for references that you list when you register to apply. Please check that your references have received the email request automatically sent from ecl-program[at]spdr-fpr.com. You can also check on the status of your recommendation letters through the online application system.
    • There is no set format for the recommendation letters, but they must meet the following conditions: they must be submitted as PDF files and must be addressed to “Dr. Makoto Gonokami, President of RIKEN” and include the date of issue. The recommendation letter must bear the signature and/or seal of the person writing the letter.


For applicant registration:
June 19, 2023 (midnight, Japan time).

For revising or uploading application documents and recommendation letters:
June 26, 2023 (3:00 p.m., Japan time).

Screening procedures

The first stage of screening is document screening, the result of which is notified in September. Successful applicants then proceed to the second stage, the interview, which will be held on October 10 or 13 18, 2023.

Other matters

  • (1) Applicants for this call can apply concurrently for the ECL Team Leader and Unit Leader, and the Sechi Kato Program Unit Leader positions.
  • (2) Part of the travel and lodging expenses incurred by applicants invited to interviews are reimbursed according to RIKEN regulations.
  • (3) No information will be released concerning application status or evaluation details.
  • (4) All personal information provided to RIKEN during the application process is handled in strict confidentiality, and will not be used for any other purpose or disclosed to any third party. However, for applicants who proceed to the interview, we may provide their application documents only to the personnel committee of the related research centers of RIKEN, and there will be an opportunity to offer for a fixed-term Team Leader/Unit Leader position other than the RIKEN ECL Program by the end of March 2024.
  • (5) Personal data related to diversity, such as gender, nationality, and age will be used for anonymous statistical analysis to monitor staff diversity and will not be used in the selection process.
  • (6) The conditions for this position are based on RIKEN’s budget and are subject to change with the budget situation.

Contact information

RIKEN ECL Program Desk
Research Personnel Affairs Section, RIKEN