On 26th April 2013, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF)*1 announced that they would commence support for 3 jointly selected projects on "Life Sciences" within the framework of the Japanese-South African Research Cooperative Program*2 as part of the FY2013 Strategic International Research Cooperative Program (SICP)*3. The selected projects are as follows:
1. "Protective and subversive mechanism of macrophage genes in Mycrobacterium tuberculosis infection" to be conducted by Harukazu Suzuki, Group Director of the Center for Life Science Technologies at RIKEN in Japan, and Frank Brombacher, Professor at the Health Science Faculty, University of Cape Town in South Africa.
This collaborative research aims at identifying new therapeutic target candidates against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) by identification and analysis of protective and subversive host genes in macrophage cells (one of the immune cells) in Mtb infection.
2. "The effects of HIV infection on pre-eclampsia" to be conducted by Tadashi Konoshita, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Fukui University in Japan, and Jagidesa Moodley, Professor Emeritus at the School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
This collaborative research aims at clarifying the effects of HIV infection and genetic variation in systems such as the renin–angiotensin system (a very important endocrine system that regulates blood pressure) on pre-eclampsia, a specific model for hypertension which is prevalent in South Africa.
3. "Genetic and pathogenic diversity of Pantoea ananatis strains" to be conducted by Yuichi Takikawa, Professor at the Graduate School of Science and Technology, Shizuoka University in Japan, and Teresa Ann Coutinho, Professor at the Department of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria in South Africa.
This collaborative research aims at analyzing the genetic and pathogenic diversity of Pantoea ananatis, a bacterium pathogenic on rice, corn and other important crops, in order to improve our understanding of its pathogenesis and to prevent the diseases it causes.
There were 14 proposals submitted in response to the joint call for proposals conducted by JST and NRF, which closed in September, 2012. JST and NRF had the proposals evaluated by experts, and based on that evaluation with regard to quality of the research plan and expected effectiveness of exchange plans, agreed on the three successful projects.
JST and NRF will start supporting the research exchange projects in May 2013. The support will continue for three years.
*1National Research Foundation (NRF):
The NRF was founded as an independent government agency in South Africa in 1999. The NRF promotes and supports research in all fields of knowledge, through grants (RISA) and provision of facilities (National Research Facilities), and also encourages science education and science awareness among the public (SAASTA).
URL of NRF's homepage: http://www.nrf.ac.za/
*2Japanese-South African Research Cooperative Program:
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding concluded between JST and NRF in July 2008, JST and NRF have initiated a program for joint funding of Japanese-South African cooperative research projects in the field of “Life Sciences.” This is the third time that projects have been selected for funding in this Program.
*3Strategic International Research Cooperative Program (SICP) :
SICP is a "top-down type" program that provides support to international research projects with countries and regions, in fields of cooperation designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) on the basis of intergovernmental agreements. URL of SICP's homepage: http://www.jst.go.jp/inter/english/
Japan Science and Technology Agency, Department of International Affairs
K’s Gobancho, 7, Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0076
Shoko Hirakawa(Ms.), Emi Kaneko (Ms.)