JSPS awards for eminent scientists

Report on the JSPS Award for Eminent Scientists FY2012

  1. Host Researcher

    Name: Kunio Miki
    Graduate School of Science Kyoto University·Professor

  2. Invited eminent scientist (name, title and affiliation, nationality)

    Johann Deisenhofer
    University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas

  3. Duration of the stay

    From October 29, 2012 to November 10, 2012 (13 days)

  4. 4. Schedule during the stay (date, research activities, name of the places to visit, and description of the visits )

    Year/Month/Day Visiting place/Contents
    October 29 Arrival at Sapporo International Airport
    October 30

    Visit to Hokkaido University, Discussion on research project

    October 31

    Visit to Hokkaido University, Discussion on research project Lecture to students

    November 1 Visit to Hokkaido University, Lecture to students
    November 2

    Move to Kyoto from Sapporo

    November 3 no schedule.
    November 4 no schedule
    November 5 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
    November 6 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
    November 7 Visit to Kyoto University, Discussion on research project
    November 8 Visit to Kyoto University, Lecture to students
    November 9

    Visit to Kyoto University, Lecture to students

    November 10 Leave from Osaka International Airport

  5. Description of and results from the invitation

    1) Research Discussion
    Dr. Deisenhofer discussed with many researchers in Kyoto University on the topics of structural biology and protein crystallography. Discussion was done on the topics of ultra-high resolution X-ray structure analysis of protein molecules and structural biology of hydrogenase maturation factors. Two postdoctoral fellows and one graduate student gave talks on their research results. In particular, on the topics of ultra-high resolution X-ray structure analysis, we discussed in detail the interpretation of observed outer-shell electron densities. Also in Hokkaido University that he visited, he discussed on the topics of protein crystallography with many researchers including young scientists and students. The host researcher of Hokkaido University was Professor Isao Tanaka, at Graduate School of Life Science and Faculty of Advanced Life Science.

    2) Lecture to Students in Kyoto University and Hokkaido University
    Dr. Deisenhofer gave two fundamental lectures in English to postgraduate students of Graduate School of Kyoto University and Graduate School of Life Science of Hokkaido University. The titles of his first and second lectures were "Macromolecular crystallography: Past, present, and future" and "Protein structure refinement", respectively. The abstract of his first lecture is as follows: ”Macromolecular crystallography has grown from an exotic activity, done by only a few researchers, to a tool that is being used in much of biological research. This growth was made possible by developments in science and technology such as, for example, recombinant DNA methods, synchrotron radiation, high-speed computers, etc. The lecture will describe some of these developments. It will also make an attempt to predict the near and intermediate future of macromolecular crystallography.” On the other hand, he focused more specific topics of protein crystallography in his second lecture.   The abstract is as follows: “Protein structure refinement was attempted soon after the first protein structures had been determined. The first successful refinement, using methods established in small molecule crystallography, was reported in 1973. The lecture will describe this work and the refinement methods specific for protein structures that were developed later.” In his two lectures, he showed not only historical aspects on protein crystallography but also current and future views of this technique, and gave a deep insight to methodological features of structure refinement. The students who attended his lectures seemed to be deeply impressed by his viewpoints, although there were some difficulties in understanding English lectures.

  6. Contributions to the Host Institute

    Young researchers including postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students had opportunities to discuss their research topics with Dr. Deisenhofer. He gave several suggestions on their research problems that should be very useful for their further research works.

    About 30 and 50 people (mainly postgraduate students) attended two special lectures given by Dr. Deisenhofer.  He spoke very understandable English and kindly paid his attention to give a clear talk to the students. However, students are very partly difficult to understand the contents. Nevertheless, they enthusiastically listened to lectures given by a Nobel Prize laureate and they seemed to be impressed by his lectures. After his lecture, a few students discussed the contents of the lectures with Dr. Deisenhofer. In the reports of several students, it was mentioned that they recognized the importance in obtaining higher ability for English in their study and their future research works.

    As mentioned above, many students and young researchers were very much impressed by discussion with Dr. Deisenhofer and his lectures and his activity in this visit played as a significant role for internationalization of the host institution.

  7. Others

    Dr. Deisenhofer joins me to express our appreciation to JSPS for very hospitable support for his visit.