RIKEN and Max Planck Society held a RIKEN-Max Planck Joint Research Center Kick off symposium

RIKEN and Max Planck Society held a RIKEN-Max Planck Joint Research Center Kick off symposium between March 6-7, 2012 at Dortmund, Germany.

The joint research center aims to become a world leading center for Systems Chemical Biology through scientific collaboration, comprising of four top scientists, two Max Planck Directors, Herbert Waldmann (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology) and Peter Seeberger (Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces), and two from the RIKEN ASI, Chemical Biology Department Director Hiroyuki Osada and Group Director Naoyuki Taniguchi.

Ahead of the symposium, ASI Director Kohei Tamao, Dr. Hiroyuki Osada, Dr. Minoru Yoshida and Dr. Naoyuki Taniguchi visited the Max Planck Science Gallery in Berlin, followed by a meeting with Max Planck Society personnel and Dr. Evelyn Obele of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Members from RIKEN also visited the Embassy of Japan to introduce activities of the joint center to Ambassador Takeshi Nakane.

The Opening remarks of the Kick off Symposium were delivered by Dr. Martin Stratmann, Vice President of Max Planck Society and Dr. Kohei Tamao. There were over 30 attendants from RIKEN, and 110 from Max Planck Society. Lively discussions over recent research progresses were conducted. It is hoped that this symposium will further the advancement of chemical biology research.

RIKEN – Max Planck Joint Research Center


RIKEN (President Ryoji Noyori) and the Max Planck Society (MPG; President Peter Gruss) signed an agreement on April 27, 2011, to strengthen their collaboration by establishing a joint research center for systems chemical biology, a field that seeks to achieve a systematic understanding of biological systems from a chemistry perspective.

The joint research center will bring together the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute's natural chemical compounds bank NPDepo, Natural Products Depository, and BIOS, the biology oriented synthesis library belong to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular PhysiologyNew Window, Department of Chemical Biology (Herbert Waldmann, director), to create one of the world's leading chemical compounds bank of both synthetic and natural compounds. The agreement also calls for strengthening the ongoing collaboration on disease glycomics and oligosaccharide synthesis between RIKEN ASI's Systems Glycobiology Research Group (Naoyuki Taniguchi, director) and the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and InterfacesNew Window (Peter Seeberger, director).

By bringing together their complementary technology and experience and working in close collaboration, RIKEN and the Max Planck Society hope to transcend the boundaries between different research fields to achieve a comprehensive understanding of life phenomena. It is also hoped that the resulting exchange of personnel, both young researchers and students, will foster the development of the next generation of scientists.

The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Japan-Germany relations as well as the centennial of the Max Planck Society. Both RIKEN and the Max Planck Society will continue to work toward deepening the cultural and scientific interaction between their two organizations and countries.

1. Background

RIKEN and the Max Planck Society (MPG) have been cooperating in a diverse range of fields including physics, chemistry and biology for more than a quarter century since they first entered into a collaborative agreement in June 1984.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their cooperation, RIKEN and MPG held a joint conference January 21-23, 2009, covering their collaborations in the three fields of physics, materials science, and the life sciences. The conference was held at the MPG headquarters. At this conference it was decided that an invaluable global resource for chemical compounds could be created by combining two chemical compound banks owned by the Max Planck Society and RIKEN. These are the BIOS (Biology Oriented Synthesis) library of synthetically produced chemical compounds owned by the Chemical Biology Department, headed by Herbert Waldmann, of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, Dortmund, and the NPDepo (Natural Products Depository), RIKEN's bank of naturally produced chemical compounds belonging to the Chemical Biology Department headed by Hiroyuki Osada at RIKEN's Advanced Science Institute (ASI).

On January 19, 2010, Noyori Ryoji, RIKEN president, and Kohei Tamao, director of the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute (ASI), visited President Peter Gruss of the Max Planck Society. It was agreed in this visit that the cooperative ties between RIKEN and the Max Planck Society should be strengthened and developed, and to this end a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two institutions for research collaboration in the field of systems chemical biology. This agreement led to research involving the exchange of researchers and students, and in February 2010 a RIKEN-Max Planck joint research team was created in preparation for the establishment later of a joint research center.

As discussions on the proposed joint research center progressed, it became clear that significant breakthroughs in glycobiology could be achieved through collaboration between the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, headed by Peter Seeberger, and known for its automated oligosaccharide synthesis technology, and RIKEN ASI's Systems Glycobiology Research Group, headed by Naoyuki Taniguchi. It was then decided to create a joint research center that would support and foster the expected synergetic effect of these two groups working together and sharing information.

The proposed joint research center was launched on March 1, 2011, following agreement on the general outline for collaboration. The joint research center at RIKEN is located within the RIKEN ASI, Chemical Biology Research Department and consists of a Bioprobe Application Team, headed by Hiroyuki Osada, and a Disease Glycoprobe Team, headed by Naoyuki Taniguchi. Hiroyuki Osada also serves as the director of the joint research center. A formal agreement on the joint research center was signed on April 27, 2011. The terms of the agreement will remain in effect for six years from March 1, 2011.

2. Expectations

The joint research center will carry out the mutual exchange of research samples, and provide a forum for the exchange of young researchers and graduate students. By sharing their chemical compound libraries, as well as automated oligosaccharide synthesis and other technologies, RIKEN and MPG hope to build the research platforms needed for systems chemical biology and the elucidation of life phenomena from a chemistry perspective. Joint symposiums will be held every year to further discussions and stimulate collaborative research. The activities of the new center will not be limited to its current two teams, but will be organically expanded over time so as to create new science and technology originating with Japan and Germany.

About RIKENRIKEN carries out high level experimental and research work in a wide range of fields, including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology, and engineering, covering the entire range from basic research to practical application. For more information, please see: www.riken.jp/engn/index.html.

About the Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 17 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 13,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes - and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field. For more information, please see: http://www.mpg.de/en.