JSPS awards for eminent scientists

Report on the JSPS Award for Eminent Scientists FY2012

  1. Host Researcher

    Name: Kazuo Oike
    Director, International Institute for Advanced Studies

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

    Buck, Linda Brown
    Full Member, Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

  3. Duration of the stay

    From February 10 to February 15, 2013 (6 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
    February 10 Arrival in Japan
    Evening: Meeting with other invited speakers and organizers
    February 11 Afternoon: Keynote Lecture in the IIAS International Symposium “Sensory Systems and Neural Circuits” at the Ito International Research Center of The University of Tokyo
    Title: Olfactory Mechanisms and Neural Circuits in Mammals
    February 12 Participation in the IIAS International Symposium
    February 13 Morning: Travel to Kyoto
    Afternoon: Lecture in the Numa Memorial Lecture 2013 at Kyoto University
    Title: Olfactory Mechanisms and Neural Circuits in Mammals
    February 14 Afternoon: Visiting the International Institute for Advanced Studies
    February 15 Departure from Japan

  5. 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 that, 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.
       In the previous invitation in 2011, Prof. Buck gave lectures in the IIAS Research Conference 2011 "Frontiers in Neuroscience: From Brain to Mind" and also in the IIAS Lecture 2011, which represented two of the three major research activities of the institute recently established.
       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. Buck as a participating researcher to the project expecting her to make it more substantial and to advance research activities further more.
       During her stay in Japan, Prof. Buck energetically interacted with many researchers.
       Main activity results are as follows:

    ○ The IIAS International Symposium Sensory Systems and Neural Circuits”

    The IIAS held the international symposium “Sensory Systems and Neural Circuits” at the University of Tokyo from 11 to 12 February, 2013.
       It was held as an activity of the research project “Toward elucidation of human consciousness by molecular biological approach”.
       Prof. Buck gave a keynote lecture “Olfactory Mechanisms and Neural Circuits in Mammals”.
       In her lecture, she presented how mammals perceive a multitude of environmental chemicals as having a distinct odor, how the signals they generate are routed and organized in the nervous system to yield distinct perceptions and instinctive responses, and so on.
       In this symposium, 25 invited talks by the world-wide leading scientists and 50 posters by young researchers were presented.
       Also more than 300 audiences including postdocs, graduate students and young researchers attended there.

    ○ The Numa Memorial Lecture 2013 “Olfactory Mechanisms and Neural Circuits in Mammals”

    The Numa Memorial Lecture 2013 “Olfactory Mechanisms and Neural Circuits in Mammals” was held at the Kyoto University on 13 February 2013, under the joint auspices of the Numa Memorial Lecture organizing committee in Kyoto University and the IIAS.
       In the lecture, Prof. Buck presented a brief account on her monumental discovery of multiple odorant receptor gene family, and talked about how the olfactory system discriminates numerous different chemical substances through the odorant receptors and how the brain translates the odors and pheromones into diverse perceptions, emotion and behaviors. After the lecture, Prof. Buck and the participants of the lecture actively discussed. They discussed especially the structures and functional roles of a novel chemosensory receptor family, called “trace amine-associated receptors (TAARs)”, that recognize volatile amines. They also intensively discussed the advanced technologies including trans-synaptic labeling of neurons using the recombinant virus vectors.
       More than 100 attendees including faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students of Graduate schools of Medicine, Biostudies, Science, and Technology at Kyoto University were present.
       Following the lecture, young researchers had the privilege opportunity to discuss broad topics with Prof. Buck. About 30 young researchers attended, and they asked her various questions, such as why she decided to study chemosensory system, and which research field other than neuroscience she is interested in.

    Through various activities listed above, this research project of the IIAS has achieved fruitful accomplishments in its scientific field.

    ○ Visiting the International Institute for Advanced Studies

    Prof. Buck visited the IIAS and discussed with Vice Director Shimura and Academic Counselor Sakano concerning our research promotion and our role of future scientific research activity on 14 February 2013.
       Following the review of the IIAS Research Conference and the IIAS Lecture held in 2011, which Prof. Buck attended and largely contributed to, we got several precious opinions based on her experience to the point that we should keep in mind to proceed our research activities in future.

  6. Contributions to the Host Institute

    All the interaction activities including the symposium, the lecture and discussions have been highly evaluated by most of the attendees, particularly by the faculties in the top-leading universities and research institutes in Japan, which owes to that Prof. Buck performed positively in a series of the activities during her stay in Japan.
       Undoubtedly it provided the very significant opportunity for young researchers to learn what is going on in a cutting-edge research field of life science and to discuss many kinds of problems and subjects with Prof. Buck and other world-leading scientists in the field of neuroscience.
       Following the discussion with Prof. Buck, the IIAS itself is now considering our research promotion and our role of future scientific research activity.
       In the course of the interaction activities, the IIAS became well recognized by most of the participants, which, in turn, will raise the IIAS profile strongly forward not only to Japanese academy but also to the world.

  7. Others

    We express sincere thanks to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for giving us another chance to invite Prof. Buck in 2013, following that in 2011.
       We will keep closer contact and cooperation with Prof. Buck for our institute research activities. This must make a big impact on Japanese academic progress.