At the Start of the Fourth Mid- to Long-Term Plan
Yuichi Obata, Ph.D.
RIKEN, National Research and Development Institute has embarked on the Fourth Mid- to Long-Term Plan from April 1st, 2018. On the very same day, RIKEN BioResource Center changed its name to RIKEN BioResource Research Center (RIKEN BRC). We are committed to collecting, preserving, and distributing bioresources of the world’s highest-level and to promoting research and development that facilitates the use and application of bioresources.
Bioresources, often referred to as biological resources, are essential experimental materials for life science research. Since its establishment in 2001, RIKEN BRC has been focusing on the major bioresources; i.e., experimental mouse strains, model plants, cell lines of human and animal origin, genetic materials, as well as relevant information associated with these bioresources. In 2005, microorganisms have been included in our scope. RIKEN established BRC as a research infrastructure for life science, by the understanding and support of Japanese government and half century-long request from research community. In order to respond to their expectation, we have been mainly collecting bioresources originally developed in Japan, so as to become a unique facility serving the world. Our Center is valuable for scientific community only when our bioresources are used. Therefore, our mission has been to collect and provide bioresources of highly useful with guaranteed reproducibility in experimental results. So far, with the great support by research community, our Center has grown up to be one of the three major repositories of each of respective bioresources in the world. In these years, we have provided 16,000 items annually, nearly 250,000 items since the start of our operation to approximately 7,000 domestic institutions and 5,000 overseas institutions in 69 countries. In addition to these bioresource operations, we are engaged in Key Technology Development for effective and efficient preservation of bioresources that ever increases in number as well as in Bioresource Frontier Program for charactering bioresources and developing novel bioresources that meet the need.
Sustainable and stable operation is required for a research infrastructure. However, as existence of needs is the precondition, we should grasp social and research needs as well as research trend and collect and provide required bioresources. Research is moving fast. New fields of sciences are explored one after another, and novel bioresources are constantly developed and demanded. Therefore, sustainability and leadership are required for the strategic operation of the Center while sustainability and flexibility is required for managing the organization. From this aspect, the Fourth Mid- to Long-Term Plan had been discussed within our Center for more than 2 years and went through processes of vigorous review and recommendations by the international BioResource Center Advisory Council (BRAC) as well as the domestic committees including the five Resource Committees and the Review Committee for R&D. Out of these discussions came our proposal to terminate three of the existing research and development teams and create three new teams within the framework of the Bioresource Frontier Program. One of them is “the iPS Cell Advanced Characterization and Development Team” to accelerate drug discovery using the prominent discovery and invention of our nation, iPS cells, especially those derived from patients with intractable diseases. The other is “the Plant-Microbe Symbiosis Research and Development Team” to promote research for environment and food production. The last is “the Next Generation Human Disease Model Team” to realize precision medicine for age-related diseases and intractable diseases. Moreover, “iPSC-based Drug Discovery and Development Team”, established in 2017 with the support of Kyoto Prefectural Government and RIKEN President and launched in cooperation with Kyoto University the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), has started full-scale operation in a facility located in Keihanna Science City in 2018 April. In addition, we established a new “Integrated Bioresource Information Division” by uniting two IT-related sections and expanding their capacities.
For founding RIKEN BRC, “the Report of Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of BioResource Center (Chairperson: Haruo Sugano, the former Director of Cancer Institute; Vice-Chairperson: Kazuo Moriwaki, the former Director of RIKEN BRC)” published in 2000 stated that “Research” should be included in its name, but the word “Research” had not been inserted for various reasons. “Research” is finally included after 18 years of operations. It is well said “No Resource, No Research” but vice versa, “No Research, No Resource”. BioResource Research Center will make an innovative effort to maximize synergetic effect between our resources and research activity. RIKEN BRC is committed to functioning as a research infrastructure under the three principles of “Trust, Sustainability, and Leadership”. We ask for your understanding and continued support.