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Call for RIKEN ECL Unit Leaders – RIKEN Early Career Leaders Program (FY 2024)

RIKEN offers junior Principal Investigator (PI) positions, RIKEN ECL Unit Leaders (ECL Unit Leaders), for exceptionally talented researchers for a maximum of 5 years. The purpose of this program is to provide excellent young researchers with an opportunity to promote their own unique research independently as a laboratory head, to develop themselves as researchers with international leadership, and to create the next generation of science and technology fields. The ECL Unit Leaders are expected to ambitiously challenge their own unique research topics at the host research centers.

Number of openings

Up to two


Applicants should be talented 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 Unit Leader will be allocated a research budget of approximately 10 million yen per year depending on the research plan and the progress. An additional 10 million yen will be provided to female Unit Leaders in the first year from the Diversity Promotion Fund. In addition, please indicate initial expenses in your application, as we will support a smooth start-up. The ECL Unit Leader can use the space and facilities of the host center in RIKEN. The final details will be decided through discussions with the RIKEN ECL Program subcommittees.

  • Host center candidates are listed. Please select one RIKEN center where you wish to work and indicate that on your application form.
  • The ECL Unit Leader receives assistance and advice from the host center, mentors (assigned to each Unit Leader), and the chair of the RIKEN ECL Program subcommittee for setting up the research unit and for day-to-day laboratory management matters.
  • The RIKEN ECL Program fosters stimulating interactions among ECL Team/Unit Leaders from diverse backgrounds and encourages interdisciplinary exchange and collaborative research with scientists outside of RIKEN.
  • The ECL Unit 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 unit, the ECL Unit 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 Unit 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 five 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 8.5 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 Unit Leaders can apply for fixed-term PI (including the ECL Team Leaders) and indefinite-term PI positions within RIKEN.

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

Application and required documents


All application documents, except the recommendation letters, should be combined into a single PDF file and uploaded to the following URL:


  • The file name of the PDF file should contain your contact email address.
  • After you uploaded the PDF file, please let us (ecl-program[at]ml.riken.jp) know the file name of the uploaded file.
  • If a confirmation email is not received within 7 days after submission, please contact: ecl-program[at]ml.riken.jp.
  • 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: Curriculum vitae
    *Please include the following information: your email and current addresses, current position, degree, education history, job history, and other relevant information helpful for evaluation. Include also gender, nationality, and date of birth. RIKEN collects this information and conducts anonymous statistical analysis to aid gender and nationality diversification. This data will not be used in the screening process.
  • 2: Research proposal including initial expenses, budget estimate, equipment and facilities required for research, and staff members plan of the unit (up to 6 pages, A4 size)
  • 3: The name of the selected center where you would like to work and the reason
  • 4: List of publications, presentations, and achievements (including grants, patents, awards, etc.)
  • 5: Outline of most important achievements (1 page, A4 size)
  • 6: Representative papers (maximum of 5 papers)
  • 7: 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:
  • 8: Recommendation letters from two persons who can evaluate your work
    • References should upload the recommendation letter the following URL by June 26, 2023 (3:00 p.m., Japan Time).
    • Please inform your references of the URL and deadline for submitting the recommendation letter.
    • 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.
    • The file name of the recommendation letter should contain applicant’s name.


The application must arrive no later than June 26, 2023 (3:00 p.m., Japan Time)

Screening procedures

After application documents are screened, only the successful candidates will be asked to have an interview in host center. The results are notified in September. Successful applicants then proceed to the final interview, which will be held on October 30 or 31, 2023.

Other matters

  • (1) Applicants for this call can apply concurrently as an ECL Team Leader. In addition, female researchers can also apply for the Sechi Kato Program Team Leader and 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 final interview, we may provide their application information only to the center director 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