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  • Director's Interview

Director's Interview

Bringing Advanced Bioscience Research to the World - New Discoveries through the Fusion of Scientific Fields

Towards Innovation in World-leading Bioscience Research

Professor Naoto Saito, Director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences (IBS), has expressed his current aspirations for the Institute as follows: "Groundbreaking bioscience research is now being conducted at Shinshu University through the synergistically combined knowledge of the School of Medicine and Faculty of Agriculture. In addition to sharing and expanding our results, we are striving to foster young researchers who will be capable of making the key discoveries that lie hidden in the boundary regions of this fusion of research across scientific disciplines." After completing his studies in the School of Medicine at Shinshu University, Professor Saito initially worked as an orthopedic and rehabilitation doctor while performing research on biomaterials and regenerative medicine. In 2004, practical studies were commenced towards the clinical use of composite materials containing nanocarbons, a world-class technology from Shinshu University, as a safe and effective biomaterial. Such research has high expectations in the medical field. Professor Saito's focus is always global: "We aim to conduct world-class research by discovering the untapped riches that lie in the boundaries with other fields as we maintain our fundamental discipline in bioscience. This is the kind of exciting work I want to promote."

The Objectives of the IBS and Its Four Research Departments

The IBS comprises four departments: advanced medicine for health promotion, biological sciences for intractable neurological diseases, biotechnology and biomedical engineering, and interdisciplinary genome sciences and cell metabolism. Each department has its own high level of specialization and pursues its own unique research. They do not exist in isolation, however, but rather aim to create cross-links among each other by maintaining a flexible project-led organization. The primary objective of the IBS is to pursue Shinshu University's unique and proprietary bioscience research. Secondly, the IBS strives to make new discoveries, particularly those that exist in the boundary regions between scientific fields, through collaboration with the other research institutes in Shinshu University's Interdisciplinary Cluster for Cutting Edge Research (ICCER), Japanese universities, local industry and government, and international research institutions. Thirdly, the IBS aims to nurture young researchers and produce the "superstars" of tomorrow who will excel in the global scientific community.

Realizing the Fundamental Ideals of the IBS and ICCER

To meet and surpass his objectives, Professor Saito emphasizes collaboration and synergy between the IBS and the four other institutes of the ICCER. He explains: "We are conducting research into nanocarbons for application as a biomaterial, which surely holds additional insights in the overlapping areas of bioscience, material engineering, fiber engineering, and others. We believe that such discoveries and the evolution of research will be major factors that propel Shinshu University's distinctive research to a unique level in the world." He adds: "In order for a regional national university to leverage its strengths and forge its own way, it will be necessary to create new knowledge by a melding of research that transcends narrowly-defined fields. The IBS wants to lead this initiative from the field of bioscience."

Nurturing Young Researchers to a World-class Level

A final key concept for both the IBS and ICCER is the nurturing of young researchers. Present day 2015 can be considered as the cradle of the most advanced research that is being carried out in the fields of medicine and agriculture at Shinshu University. To hone young researchers into world-recognized authorities who can realize the fundamental ideals of the Institutes, publications in world-level research journals and the procurement of competitive grants are carefully weighed to prioritize the most promising research themes and brightest researchers. In particular, extensive support is provided to young investigators towards the aims of unlocking the potential of the next generation, and includes a dynamic, cutting-edge environment, favorable compensation package, training, and more. Professor Saito concludes: "In 4 years' time in 2019, we will have constructed an ideal system for advanced research that can hold its place in the world by fostering top class fundamental studies that are fused with different fields and performed by exceptional staff. Let us take a new and unprecedented step forward for Shinshu University in the field of biomedicine, a veritable research hotspot in the modern world."

SHINDAI NOW, 88, Issued on July 31, 2014

Director of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Interdisciplinary Cluster for Cutting Edge Research
Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering
Academic Assembly Professor (Institute of Health Sciences), Ph. D. in Medicine
Naoto Saito