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August 19 (Thu.) 20 (Fri.), 2010,
The Luigans Spa & Resort, Fukuoka City

New Horizons for Modern Science: Biology and Medicine at the Crossroads

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The symposium "New Horizons for Modern Science: Biology and Medicine at the Crossroads" was held by Kyushu University Professor Keiichi Nakamura at the Luigans Spa & Resort in Fukuoka on August 19th and 20th, 2010, concerning the CREST research topic "Establishment of Analytical Basis Toward Comprehensive Understanding of the Ubiquitin System" (part of CREST research area "The Dynamic Mechanism of and Fundamental Technology for Biological Systems").  (The number of registered participants:208)

Proceeding from opening remarks by Dr. Yukio Fujiki, Leader at Global COE, a total of 21 lectures were given by invitees (4 from overseas and 17 from Japan, of which 4 were from the CREST research team).

Dr. Aaron Ciechanover (Technion, Israel), 2004 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, was scheduled to speak, but two days prior to arriving he seriously injured himself falling down some stairs, breaking his forearm and ankle, and was thus suddenly unable to make it to Japan. A simple introduction of the content of the other foreign invitees' lectures follows. Professor Yue Xiong of the University of North Carolina spoke on the discovery of a surprisingly large number of proteins, based on analysis of acetylation and proteomics, and in particular that most metabolic enzymes are acetylized. Professor Tom Rapoport of Harvard University explained the mechanism through which proteins are transported across the endoplasmic reticulum in terms of structure and function. Professor Peter Sicinski of the Dana Farber Cancer Center explained new functions of D-cyclins, particularly related to Notch transcriptional regulation, and introduced his analysis at the level of individual mice. University of North Carolina Professor Yi Zhang spoke on the discovery of an entirely new chemical process concerning DNA demethylation and explained its significance.

Next, a synopsis of presentations given by speakers from Japan. Professors Yukio Fujiki and Keiichi Nakayama introduced their own CREST project (peroxisome assembly and comprehensive analysis of ubiquitin). Professor Noboru Mizushima of Tokyo Medical and Dental University discussed autophagy in terms of individual physiological functions. Dr. Toru Natsume, Team Leader at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, introduced a new method of proteomic analysis using robotics. Professor Katsuhiko Shirahige of the University of Tokyo spoke about new functions of cohesin found using a next-generation sequencer. Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki, Team Leader at RIKEN, introduced various practical technologies using florescent proteins, highlighting one particular example of cell cycle imaging. Dr. Hiroki Ueda, also a Team Leader at RIKEN, gave an explanation of circadian rhythms in gene clusters and the current state of that work. Professor Hisao Kondo of Kyushu University spoke about important new molecular mechanisms in the formation of the Golgi apparatus. Kyoto University Professor Tadashi Uemura presented on his own CREST project research (polarization mechanisms). Professor Koichi Akashi of Kyushu University spoke about cancerous stem cell positioning and current theory. In addition, Professor Yukiko Gotoh of Tokyo University introduced her CREST project research (on decisions for differentiation in neural stem cells). Kyoto University Professor Yoichi Shinkai explained mechanisms that control transcription of retroviruses. Professor Hiroyuki Sasaki of Kyushu University spoke about many nascent noncoding RNA's and their significance.

In addition, this international symposium provided an opportunity for younger researchers, who bear the burden of Japan's future, to make presentations. Kyushu University Associate Professor Dr. Michiko Shirane, RIKEN Team Leader Dr. Takeshi Imai, Nagoya City University Lecturer Dr. Midori Shimada, and Nagoya University Professor Dr. Gohta Goshima all introduced their leading-edge research.

Lastly, Dr. James Watson, Chancellor Emeritus of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who was invited to the symposium but couldn't attend due to urgent business, sent a message to the "Hot Spring Harbor" symposium in celebration of its 20th anniversary, entitled "From Cold to Hot", which was presented to all participants. (The nickname comes from the symposium's having been originally held at a branch of the Kyushu University Medical Institute of Bio-regulation being located near a hot spring resort area.)

This international symposium was especially significant in that top-flight researchers from overseas were invited along with many younger researchers in their 30's and 40's. This leant great importance to the event in that it provided a place for Japan's next generation of researchers to mingle with the very best from overseas. It was an occasion for hope that the youthful energy of the Japanese presenters this time will make our country "heat up".

JST, an integrated organization of science and technology in Japan, establishes an infrastructure for the entire process from the creation of knowledge to the return to the society. For more information, visit http://www.jst.go.jp/EN/