To President of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Report on the Invitation Fellowship Programs for Research in Japan in Year 2003

Host Researcher
Prof. Kazuyuki Tatsumi
Research Center for Materials Science
Nagoya University

I report on the Invitation Fellowship Programs for Research in Japan as below.

1. Invited Fellow Researcher
Name: Prof. Henri B. Kagan
Institution and title: Professor of Universite de Paris-Sud
Nationality: French
2. Duration of the Stay
October 25, 2003 to November 25, 2003 (32 days)
3. Hosting Environment
Accommodation: MELPARQUE NAGOYA, etc.
Research institute: Research Center for Materials Science, Nagoya University, etc.
Status in the host institute: JSPS Fellow Researcher

4. Schedule during the Stay

Date Research activities in the host institutes, name of the places to visit, and description of the visits (research and discussion, lecture, inspection, etc.)
October  
25 (Sat) Arrived at Tokyo (Narita)
26 (Sun) Tokyo (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
27 (Mon) AM: Kitazato University; PM: Tokyo Institute of Technology
28 (Tue) Lecture at Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Tokyo
29 (Wed) Moved from Tokyo to Nagoya
30 (Thu) to Nov. 2 (Sun) Lecture and other activities at Nagoya University
November  
3 (Mon.) Culture Day Moved from Nagoya to Okayama
4 (Tue) Okayama University
5 (Wed) Moved from Okayama to Kyoto; Lecture at Kyoto Pharmaceutical University
6 (Thu) Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University
7 (Fri) Moved from Kyoto to Kanazawa
8 (Sat) Kanazawa University
9 (Sun) Moved from Kanazawa to Gifu
10 (Mon) Gifu University
11 (Tue) Moved from Gifu to Osaka
12 (Wed) to 13 (Thu) Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University
14 (Fri) College of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University; Moved to Kobe
15 (Sat) to 16 (Sun) Kobe
17 (Mon) Moved from Kobe to Tokyo
18 (Tue) Symposium at Kitazato University
19 (Wed) Tokyo
20 (Thu) Moved from Tokyo to Fukuoka
21 (Fri) to 22(Sat) Lecture and other activities at Kyushu University
23 (Sun) Moved from Fukuoka to Kumamoto
24 (Mon) Public Holiday Kumamoto University
25 (Tue) Moved from Kumamoto to Tokyo (Haneda); Moved from Haneda to Narita; Departed from Tokyo (Narita) to Paris
(Note) Include the dates of the arrival at Japan and the departure from Japan in the schedule.


5. Description of and results from the invitation

As Prof. Kagan has been occupied by many duties in France, and traveling around the world, the duration of his visit in this fiscal year had to be limited to one month. Nevertheless, he visited 13 universities and research institutes with his wife even in such a short period of time. He gave lectures and discussed with many researchers at the host universities and institutes, which resulted in a very productive invitation program.

Professor Kagan had prepared three themes, mentioned below, for his lectures, and gave a lecture of the theme(s) chosen by each host institute. With the subjects of the latest findings in his research on catalytic synthesis of asymmetric organic molecules as well as the inside stories behind critical discoveries, Prof. Kagan delivered memorable lectures that only leading scientists in this field like him can provide. At Nagoya University, the lecture was followed by a very lively and enthusiastic discussion with pointed questions from Prof. Noyori and other young researchers and graduate students. It was impressive that Prof. Kagan answered to those questions in a serious and kind manner. I have heard from other researchers who took care of Prof. Kagan's visits that his lectures in other universities were also well attended, leading to active discussions.

1) Is it possible to evaluate chiral auxiliaries from their racemic mixtures?
2) Catalytic asymmetric silylcyanation of aldehydes.
3) Practical aspects of non-liner effects in asymmetric synthesis.

The main focus of each lecture was: 1) evaluation of the roles of chiral ligands contained in catalyst based on the abundance ratio of optical isomers in racemic mixtures, 2) search of new types of asymmetric induction reaction, and 3) application of asymmetric synthesis to practical aspects of non-linear effects. All of these are crucial research achievements that affect the future development of asymmetric catalysis, and based on these, leading researchers in Japan frankly exchanged their opinions. It was the most important reward of this program to have such an opportunity at many universities. It is expected that the research in this field will become more vibrant than ever.

In the meetings with individual researchers, discussion was made not only on asymmetric catalyst but also on other wide-ranging fields including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Even in different research fields, since researchers share common goals, they obtained Prof. Kagan's precise and useful advice, which was based on his deep insights. At his strong request, Prof. Kagan spent all days, except for holidays, visiting laboratories and holding lively discussions with academic staff and graduate students. He responded to reports by researchers with diverse backgrounds from a wide range of disciplines in a warm and patient manner.

During his stay, in addition to major universities, Prof. Kagan also visited relatively small local universities and private universities in Japan. It is assumed that his visit was especially impressive for such universities. Even at the stage of planning the schedule for this invitation, Prof. Kagan expressed his wish to visit a wide range of universities in various regions of Japan. As a result, the travel schedule inevitably became very tight except for the period visiting Nagoya University. I feel sorry for him as a host in that regard.

Lastly, I report that Prof. Kagan gave the plenary lecture at Max Tischeler Symposium, a traditional symposium at Kitazato University.

6. Contribution by the invitee to the host institutes (e.g. motivation for young researchers, internationalization of a host institute as a whole, etc.)

In the lecture at Nagoya University, the discussion with young researchers was especially lively. I heard that other universities observed similar enthusiasm. Nowadays, visits and lectures by foreign researchers are ordinary events, and it is getting more common for Japanese scholars and students to study side by side with foreign post-doctoral researchers and oversea students. Although Japanese students still have low foreign language competence, they seem to have less uncomfortable feeling against oversea researchers, with the barriers between them being lower. Still, the visit by a renowned researcher like Prof. Kagan is most likely to have given unprecedented impact and stimuli to them.

A great portion of the most important basic concepts of asymmetric catalytic reaction have been proposed by Prof. Kagan, which contributed to the Nobel Award won by Prof. Noyori. The processes of developing such concepts involve the "romantics" of research activities and struggles of researchers, which are common to all academic activities. The opportunities to talk face-to-face with Prof. Kagan, who has experienced those joys and struggles as a central player, and listen to his stories were valuable for young scholars and students. Through reporting the latest findings of their own research outcomes and discussing with such a prominent scientist, the young researchers, who will bear Japan's future, must have learnt a great deal from this meeting. Prof. Kagan disciplines himself in research as well as in his research activities. On the other hand, he has patience towards other researchers, especially with young people. Such an attitude of Prof. Kagan must have shown the significance of the factors other than research activities to the young researchers who aim to be scientists.

During his stay, young researchers had opportunities to get closely involved with Prof. Kagan not only at lectures and individual meetings but also during lunchtime and break time. Although I have no way to know the subjects of the conversations, Prof. Kagan seemed to be fully satisfied with the talks with young researchers also on issues other than chemistry.

The invitation of Prof. Kagan has contributed to the internationalization of Nagoya University and other host institutions. At Nagoya University, he exchanged opinions with Prof. Noyori, Prof Tatsumi and other academic staff of Research Center for Materials Science concerning the international collaboration of research between French and Japanese universities, as well as on the internationalization of universities. The knowledge and experiences of Prof. Kagan, who have been deeply engaged in the administration of science and technology in France, provided us with a great insight. The international collaboration between European countries are carried out with France and Germany as the central actors, and based on the information on actual collaboration and future measures of the institutes such as universities in such developed nations with universities in developing countries, particularly Eastern European states, we discussed the way of collaboration between universities in Japan and other Asian nations.

The internationalization of major universities in Japan has substantially progressed based on cooperative relationships with developed nations, and it will be more important to build such relationships with developing countries in terms of advanced science and technology policies in the future. Thus, the invitation of and discussion with Prof. Kagan was valuable also in this regard especially in time when we are seeking for a strategy for inter-university cooperation with a focus on Japan's future.

7. Others

Prof. Kagan is renowned worldwide for pioneering research on the catalytic synthesis of asymmetric organic molecules, receiving a number of significant international awards such as Tetrahedron Prize. He has also been awarded French Knight of the National Order of Merit, playing a leading role in the scientific field in France. He is also familiar with Japanese culture and has a wide range of cultural qualities and deep knowledge. He has many friends including Prof. Noyori in Japan, which is another factor that has made this invitation more productive.

Some of the host institutes had young researchers who had studied in the laboratory of Prof. Kagan. From his busy schedule of lectures and arrangements for research at universities, Prof. Kagan took time for practical jobs such as the compilation of the results of past collaborative research and preparation of reports. We saw the passion of Prof. Kagan, who already established his academic position, to further develop the research of molecular asymmetric catalysis. This invitation program was also important to continue receiving his guidance for young researchers in Japan in the future.

In this invitation program, we also received generous support for the travel of his wife. Prof. Kagan is a typical traditional researcher and always devotes himself to research activities. Accordingly, Mrs. Kagan fully supports other activities for his life. This stay in Japan was not an exception and detail arrangements for his stay and travel were left to Mrs. Kagan, and thus Prof. Kagan could concentrate his energy on research activities at the institutes he visited under such a tight schedule. We were envious of Prof. Kagan because Mrs. Kagan was an ideal figure as a wife of a researcher in good old days.

Mrs. Kagan was also familiar with Japanese culture and custom, playing an important role in cultural exchanges in places Prof. Kagan visited. During the stay, she was friendly with host researchers and their families and students, contributing to the success of this program in terms of internationalization activities in a broad sense. From the viewpoint of the internationalization of research activities, which is necessary for Japan, she demonstrated the importance of the roles of the family members in addition to researchers themselves.

Lastly, I would like to express my thankfulness to Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for its generous support, and to the staff members at Nagoya University for working for various procedures for hosting. I really hope that this program will further develop and contribute to the improvement of the research standard in Japan and the internationalization of universities and researchers.


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