Invited eminent scientist (name, title and affiliation, nationality)
Changeux, Jean Pierre
Duration of the stay
Professor Emeritus, the Institut Pasteur and the Collège de France
From August 31 to September 8, 2012 (9 days)
Description of and results from the invitation
The International Institute for Advanced Studies offers the greatest features for providing forums for mutual understanding and close contacts among researchers in different academic disciplines. Based on this feature, the IIAS has the principal research objectives of excavating and developing new realms of sciences and the humanities for the next generation by accumulation of knowledge in many academic fields through interaction of outstanding researchers.
For the final fiscal year of the research project “Toward elucidation of human consciousness by molecular biological approach” currently conducted at the IIAS, we invited Prof. Changeux as a participating researcher to the project expecting him to make it more substantial and to develop research activities further more.
During his stay in Japan, Prof. Changeux energetically attended various kinds of meetings, conferences, lectures and so on.
Main activity results are as follows:
○ Symposium entitled "In the aim of the recovery from cerebral nerve injury" on the occasion of the 190th anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s birth
The IIAS, Association Pasteur, a non-profit organization organized a symposium entitled "In the aim of the recovery from cerebral nerve injury" on the occasion of the 190th anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s birth on 1 September 2012.
Prof. Changeux gave a lecture on the title of “Allosteric properties of nicotinic receptors: implication for brain diseases and drug design”. His talk was in principle based on the “allostery” which he discovered. He explained well that the brain disease occurs when allosteric transition of nicotinic receptor does not work normally.
There were so many questions to him about his talk. Since nicotine is now known to protect from Alzheimer disease, nicotinic receptor is one of the key molecules for the brain function. Many people enjoyed the symposium and this symposium was successful.
○ “BSI Special Seminar Series” organized by RIKEN Brain Science Institute:
Prof. Changeux was invited to deliver a lecture as one of the “BSI Special Seminar Series” organized by RIKEN Brain Science Institute on 3 September 2012.
In his seminar, he gave an impressive lecture on the title of “Theoretical and Experimental Approaches to Conscious Processing”. His talk covered cognition and the role of nicotinic receptor and other functional molecules in the brain function. His talk is dependent on his great discovery of “allosteric transition” in the mechanism of both cognitive function and molecular tuning of the receptor in an allosteric manner.
After his talk, all the participants moved with him to the Lounge and discussion continued for a long time.
He also visited many laboratories and actively discussed with many young researchers there.
○ Visiting the International Institute for Advanced Studies
Prof. Changuex visited the IIAS and discussed with Director Oike and Vice Director Shimura concerning our research promotion and our role of future scientific research activity on 6 September 2012.
Following the review of the IIAS Research Conference and the IIAS Lecture held last year, in which Prof. Changuex attended, we got several precious opinions based on his experience to the point that we should keep in mind to proceed our research activities in future.
Not only giving some definite themes about what kinds of research we should promote, but also he suggested that it is important for us to make a few headlines or focus points.
○ The Numa Memorial Lecture 2012 “Allostery, signal transduction and drug design: past and future”
The Numa Memorial Lecture 2012 “Allostery, signal transduction and drug design: past and future” was held at Kyoto University on 7 September 2012, under the joint auspices of the Numa Memorial Lecture organizing committee and the IIAS.
In the lecture, Prof. Changeux presented a brief historical account on the origin and basic concept of the term ‘‘allosteric’’, and explained the Monod-Wyman-Changeux (MWC) model, which was conceived by Dr. Monod, Dr. Wyman, and Prof. Changeux in 1965 to account for the signal transduction and cooperative properties of bacterial regulatory enzymes and hemoglobin.
He also explained dynamic conformational changes of channels and receptors according to the MWC model, and reexamined allosteric regulations on the basis of new findings obtained from recent X-ray structural studies. In the discussion after a short coffee break, Prof. Changeux discussed various topics from allosteric regulation in the signaling molecules to human consciousness.
70 attendees including faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students of Graduate schools of Medicine, Biostudies, Science, and Technology at Kyoto University were present.
○ IIAS Research Project ”Toward elucidation of human consciousness by molecular biological approach”
Following the Numa Memorial Lecture mentioned above, the IIAS had a discussion session concerning from molecular level analysis of protein to high order brain function, as a part of the IIAS research project “Toward elucidation of human consciousness by molecular biological approach”.
Contributions to the Host Institute
In this discussion session, young researchers actively exchanged their ideas with Prof. Changeux. He also directly gave them a great deal of inspiring and informative advice on conducting their research.
Undoubtedly it provided very significant opportunity for young researchers to discuss many problems and subjects with Prof. Changeux.
For this research project in the final fiscal year, we were able to obtain the important suggestions for further developing research promotion based on the lecture of Prof. Changeux and the following discussion.
The outcome of a series of the lecture and the session was extremely significant.
All the interaction activities including the symposium, the seminar, the lecture and discussions have been highly evaluated by most of the attendees, particularly by faculties in the top-leading universities and research institutes in Japan, which owes to that Prof. Changeux performed positively in a series of the exchange activities during his stay in Japan.
Undoubtedly it provided very significant opportunity for young researchers to discuss many problems and subjects with Prof. Changeux, since Prof. Changeux answered carefully and earnestly to every question even if scheduled time was over.
The IIAS itself is now considering concerning our research promotion and our role of future scientific research activity following the discussion with Prof. Changuex.
In the course of the interaction activities, the IIAS became well recognized by all the participants, which, in turn, will end up to raise the IIAS profile strongly forward not only to Japanese academy but also to the world.
We express sincere thanks to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for giving us another chance to invite Prof. Changeux following last year.
We will maintain closer contact with Prof. Changeux and request his continued cooperation for our institute research activities. This must make a big impact to Japanese academic progress.