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Organization for Fundamental Research holds opening ceremony

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July 5, 2019

On May 24, Tokyo Tech's new Organization for Fundamental Research (OFR, director: Fumio Koyama) held its opening ceremony at S8 Building in Suzukakedai Campus. The purpose of the OFR is to provide concrete and sustainable development opportunities for early-career researchers who will take the lead in cutting-edge science and technology. Over 100 people attended the event, including Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu, Institute members, OFR participants, and members of the press. The OFR consists of "Specialized Academies" for cell science and quantum computing, two fields in which Tokyo Tech is conducting leading work, and a "Comprehensive Academy," in which all new Tokyo Tech researchers participate for three months.

After an opening address by President Masu, Institute of Innovative Research (IIR) professor and Comprehensive Academy headmaster Naoto Ohtake explained, "With the Specialized Academies, our desire is to create an environment where participants can work closely in research for several years. Conversely, at the Comprehensive Academy, we want to provide opportunities for young researchers from various research fields to meet and consider their future research themes."

President Masu giving the opening address

President Masu giving the opening address

Next, honorary professor and headmaster of the Specialized Academy for cell science Yoshinori Ohsumi gave a lecture on "The importance of fundamental research." He was followed by IIR professor and quantum computing headmaster Hidetoshi Nishimori, who gave a lecture entitled, "The intrigue of quantum computing: ‘Mysteries' are useful."

A place of scientific freedom for young researchers

In his lecture, Ohsumi stated, "An important issue is to provide a comfortable environment where young researchers can apply their interests to find a research topic in cell biology, then formulate and test their hypotheses." He gave the following two points as their mission.

1.

The joy and importance of exchange

Effort to understand and respect each other's research. Opportunities to see good research and learn different ways of thinking and approaches. Attitude of interest in others' work; taking pleasure in and praising good work.

2.

An organization that benefits from its researchers

An environment where young people can freely engage in research. Better shared facilities and easy-to-use systems. Establishing a support system through advanced technicians. Encouraging individual curiosity and new joint research. Qualities of future researchers in the era of artificial intelligence.

Ohsumi giving a lecture

Ohsumi giving a lecture

A basis for open innovation

Nishimori's lecture followed, during which he stated, "It is important to develop young people's abilities. Fundamental research is the basis for open innovation and the role of Tokyo Tech."

Nishimori during his lecture

Nishimori during his lecture

After the headmasters' lectures, cell science participant Tomoko Horie, an assistant professor at IIR's Cell Biology Center, and quantum computing participant Yuki Bando, an IIR researcher, gave presentations on their research.

Press Q&A, poster presentations, and reception

After the ceremony, President Masu and the academy headmasters held a 30-minute Q&A for the press. Afterwards, attendees moved to the 1st floor of S1 Building, where poster presentations and a reception were held. More than 60 participants joined in discussions of the 21 posters, exchanging opinions on the future of the OFR and Tokyo Tech.

At the poster presentations and reception

At the poster presentations and reception

At the poster presentations and reception

What is the Organization for Fundamental Research?

In July 2018, Tokyo Tech established the Organization for Fundamental Research (OFR) under the Institute of Innovative Research as a place for developing fundamental researchers necessary for pioneering cutting-edge research fields and sustainably maintaining and developing the Institute's position as a global research hub. This organization consists of two Specialized Academies and a Comprehensive Academy.

At the Specialized Academies, Institute researchers who have made exceptional achievements in fundamental research are appointed as headmasters. To increase research effort (percentage of work time spent focusing on research) of young researchers from the current 60% to 90% (estimated according to a fiscal year 2014 survey by MEXT), the OFR invests in human, fund, and space resources, thereby providing an environment for participants to focus on research for approximately five years. As of April 2019, there are 14 participants in the Specialized Academy for cell science, and 2 participants in the Specialized Academy for quantum computing.

At the Comprehensive Academy, young researchers from all fields at Tokyo Tech will be able to increasing their research efforts to 90% for three months, allowing them to focus on research and thoroughly consider their research themes. As of June 2019, there are 29 researchers participating.

As it is said that fundamental research takes 10 years bear fruit, starting in 2030, the ultimate goal of the OFR is to continually produce outstanding research results.

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