History

History

OIST history timeline

June 2001

Mr. Koji Omi announces plan for new international graduate university in Okinawa

Koji Omi

Former Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs and Former Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Koji Omi announces a plan to establish a new graduate university in Okinawa.

Read more about Koji Omi

Koji Omi portrait

August 2005

Sydney Brenner appointed president of OIST "Promotion Corporation"

Sydney Brenner

A recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, Dr. Sydney Brenner served as the President of the OIST Promotion Corporation between 2005 and 2011, for which he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government in 2017.

Read more about Syndney Brenner

Sydney Brenner portrait

March 2010

Lab 1 and Center Building opened in Onna-son

Lab 1

Lab 1 was the first lab building designed and built for OIST and set the standard for the lab buildings that followed. Lessons learned from the operation of Lab 1 provided valuable insight for later construction.

Lab 1 houses faculty offices, wet and dry labs, research facilities for more than 20 research units, and other major resources such as the Electron Microscope Suite, the DNA Sequencing Center, and the Supercomputing Center.

In 2010 OIST received a Good Lighting Award for excellent illumination facilities in Lab 1. About 90% of all lights are LEDs which use about 25% less energy than conventional light bulbs.

Lab 1 floor plan

Lab 1 Level C Floor Plan

lab 1 exterior view

Exterior of lab 1 with Center Court on right.

Lab 1 entryway from center court

Lab 1 entrance from Center Court

Lab 4 corridor

Lab 1 hallway

Exterior of Center Court with Lab 1 on the left

Exterior of Center Court with Lab 1 on the left

Center Building

The Center Building was designed to function as the central hub of the first three lab buildings and the main entrance to OIST, through the Tunnel Gallery. A set of elevators at the end of the subterranean Tunnel Gallery bring visitors up a great distance to the three floors above. Level A, the first floor of Center Building, houses administration offices. Level B, the second floor, includes a library, two large seminar rooms, the Health Center, and a clinic. The top floor, Level C, with its grassy, open-air Center Court, is the true hub of OIST’s earliest facilities. All three lab buildings are directly connected to this level, which includes two seminar rooms and a café which boasts the Center Court as its outdoor seating. Part of Level C, including the café, is open to the public.

Center Building Level C Floor Plan

Center Building Level C Floor Plan

Center court from lab 1

Center court looking from lab 1

Tunnel Gallery

The Tunnel Gallery entrance is on the side of a hill below the main campus. The tunnel extends to below Center Building, where elevators bring visitors and employees to the floors above.

Lecture room C10 in center building

Lecture room C10 in center building

center building cafe

OIST Cafe

November 2011

Jonathan Dorfan appointed 1st president of the university and university gets accreditation

Jonathan Dorfan

Appointed inaugural president in 2010, Dr. Dorfan led OIST through university accreditation in 2011 and initiated the second phase of OIST's growth. Jonathan Dorfan retired from OIST in December 2016 and is now President Emeritus. In 2017, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, one of Japan’s most distinguished national decorations, for contributing to the development of Japan’s science research and education.

Read more about Jonathan Dorfan

Jonathan Dorfan Portrait

University accredited

OIST School Corporation and Graduate University accredited by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on October 24, 2011.

OIST Inauguration ceremony held on November 19, 2011.

Documents from university accreditation 2011

Documents from university accreditation 2011

OIST Accredited 2011

Mr. Fumio Isoda, Director General for the Higher Education Bureau of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, presents President Jonathan Dorfan with the ‘Approval for University Establishment’ on October 25, 2011.

OIST Accredited 2011 reporters

Dr. Robert Baughman and President Jonathan Dorfan answer questions from reporters.

June 2012

Lab 2 Opened

Lab 2

Lab 2 is connected to Center Building through the Skywalk, a suspended bridge that traverses the valley between the two buildings, offering magnificent views of the campus and the sea. In addition to dry and wet labs for about 20 research units, Lab 2 also includes laser labs and clean rooms. Lab 2 is directly attached to Lab 3 which in turn is connected to Lab 1 and Center Court through open or enclosed skywalk bridges.

For innovative design and construction, Lab 2 was awarded LEED SILVER status, a green building certification under the internationally recognized standard Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).

Lab 2 floor plan

Lab 2 level C floor plan

Lab 2 time-lapse construction video
Lab 2 time-lapse construction video
Lab 2 under skywalk

Lab 2 view from Center Building

Lab 2 breakout lounge area

Lounge breakout area

Lab 2 lab

Wet lab overlooking Village Center

Lab 2 corridors

Lab corridors

September 2012

First graduate students accepted

Welcome Ceremony

OIST held a Welcome Ceremony for its first class of students on September 3, 2012.

welcome ceremony eisa

Eisa-inspired original performance by Ryusei Daiko

welcome ceremony in OIST auditorium 2012

The ceremony was held in the newly completed auditorium.

2012 welcome ceremony with Eisa performing

The ceremony concluded with a performance based on traditional Okinawan folk dance “Eisa”.

March 2015

Lab 3 Opened

Lab 3

Lab 3, completed in 2015, was the last building in the complex of four designed prior to the establishment of OIST as a graduate university. Directly attached to Lab 2, Lab 3 is connected to Center Court and Lab 1 with skywalk bridges and to Lab 4 through an underground corridor.

Approximately 20 labs and offices for principal investigators, the office of Graduate School, and several classrooms are located in this building. The Graduate School is responsible for all affairs related to graduate students, including admission of students and administration of the education and research programs. Lab 3 also houses TDIC (Technology Development and Innovation Center) which is responsible for technology licensing, business development, management of the university’s startup incubator facilities, and many other activities related to industrial relations, patents, and intellectual property.

Lab 3 floor plan

Lab 3 level C floor plan

Lab 3 time-lapse construction video
Lab 3 time-lapse construction video
Lab 3 exterior

Lab 3 exterior

Lab 3 bridge from center court

Lab 3 view from Center Court

Tunnel from Lab 3 to Lab 1

Tunnel from Lab 3 to Lab 1

Lab 2 breakout lounge area

Breakout Lounge area

June 2016

Marine Science Station opened

Marine Science Station

The location of OIST, an island surrounded by the sea, makes it an ideal institute for marine science research. With the increase of marine science units on the main campus, a decision was made to build a lab building exclusively for this field of research — the OIST Marine Science Station. A seafront site was provided by Onna Village in Seragaki, approximately 8km northeast of the main campus, and construction of the building was completed in 2016. The Marine Science Station includes both indoor and outdoor tanks that receive filtered and unfiltered seawater directly from the sea through underwater pipes pumped to seawater tanks on the roof top. The darker structure in the middle in photo below is a wall of seawater tanks.

Marine science station floor plan

Marine science station floor plan

Seragaki aerial drone video
Seragaki aerial drone video
Marine Science Station exterior

Aerial view of the marine science station

Marine science station interior

South end of the Indoor tank room

Inspecting coral in outdoor tank

Inspecting coral in outdoor tank

Cleaning dive equipment after specimen collection

Cleaning dive equipment after specimen collection

January 2017

Peter Gruss appointed 2nd president of the university

Peter Gruss

The Board of Governors of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology appointed Dr. Peter Gruss — internationally recognized researcher in gene regulation and embryonic development and former President of the Max Planck Society — as the CEO and President of OIST.

Meet President Gruss

Peter Gruss portrait

February 2018

First PhDs graduated

OIST held its inaugural Graduation Ceremony on February 24, 2018, to celebrate the achievements of OIST’s very first graduates.

OIST graduation ceremony 2017 video
OIST graduation ceremony 2017 video

Peter Gruss speaking at the first inaugural graduation ceremony

First graduation students in 2018

First graduation students

Inagural graduation ceremony

Inaugural graduation ceremony at he OIST auditorium

Graduate students mingle after ceremony

December 2018

I2 Innovation Incubator established

I2 Innovation Incubator

In December 2018, the OIST Innovation Square, a startup incubator with several accelerator and funding programs, was established.

Innovation Square currently comprises the Innovation Square Incubator facility and two programs focused on startups: the Innovation Square Startup Accelerator Program (i2@OIST) and the OIST-Beyond Next Ventures Innovation Hub (OBI-Hub).

Incubator building floor plan

Incubator building floor plan

incubator building exterior view

The façade of the incubator building

Incubator interior  view

The incubator is a mixed-use facility that accommodates wet lab, dry lab, and computational research and development activities.

April 2020

Lab 4 Opened

Lab 4

With about 20,000m2 of floor area, Lab 4 is OIST’s largest lab building, and it is located higher up than any other building on campus.

During planning, it was decided that the offices of the president and other executives would be moved to Lab 4. In addition to about 20 wet and dry research labs and offices of principal investigators, Lab 4 includes a second cafeteria space, the Ganjuu Wellness Center, the Resource Center, and the Children’s Research Center, a lab dedicated to furthering understanding of ADHD in children.

lab 4 level E floor plan

lab 4 level E floor plan

A timelapse of the construction of Lab 4, with original music by OIST researcher Johannes Schönke, who makes music as Oceanfront.
Lab 4 view from lounge on F floor

View from lounge on F floor South East side

Lab 4 entrance façade

Entrance façade

Lab 4 View from lounge on E floor

View from lounge on E floor North West side.

Lab 4 roof patio

Lab 4 roof patio

November 10, 2021

10th anniversary of OIST

10th Anniversary Ceremony highlights OIST’s journey

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University’s (OIST) 10th Anniversary Ceremony, which was held on May 22, 2022, brought together the Board of Governors, the Japanese Government, Okinawa Prefecture Government, representatives from throughout Japan and overseas, and the OIST community to celebrate the first decade of OIST’s journey. The ceremony was originally scheduled for November 2021, which would have coincided with the actual 10th anniversary but the decision was made to delay the ceremony due to the travel restrictions and for the wellbeing of the community. The ceremony included a video message from Japan’s Prime Minister, H.E. Fumio Kishida, who congratulated OIST for its success over the last decade, stated that he had great hopes for how OIST’s research will benefit society, and promised to support OIST as the institution grows in the future.

As part of the ceremony, a short film highlighted OIST’s journey and vision over the last ten years was created and screened., with more than 50 countries represented. OIST is rapidly gaining recognition in the worldwide academic community as a model for excellence in education and research.

A history of OIST, from the inception of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Promotion Corporation to the establishment of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in 2011 to the 10th anniversary celebration in 2022.
A history of OIST, from the inception of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Promotion Corporation to the establishment of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in 2011 to the 10th anniversary celebration in 2022.

The ceremony featured speeches from OIST President Dr. Peter Gruss, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Mr. Kosaburo Nishime, the Governor of Okinawa Denny Tamaki, the Mayor of Onna Village Yoshimi Nagahama, and the CEO of Suntory Holdings Limited Mr. Takeshi Niinami.

The Keynote was delivered via video message by Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2009) and Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. He highlighted that the wealth of a country largely depends on its knowledge and information of science, innovation, and technology, and that this knowledge was often more important than any other resources. His talk centered around the COVID-19 pandemic and how scientific research had played a key role in understanding the virus.

Violinist, OIST Foundation Music Ambassador and OIST Honorary Music Director Eiko Kano and pianist Karén Hakobyan opened and closed the ceremony with extraordinary music performances.

OIST’s 10th Anniversary Ceremony took place on May 22, 2022, and featured speeches from OIST President, Dr. Peter Gruss, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Kosaburo Nishime, the Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, the Mayor of Onna Village, Yoshimi Nagahama, and the CEO of Suntory Holdings Limited, Takeshi Niinami, and a video message from Japan’s Prime Minister H.E. Fumio Kishida.
OIST’s 10th Anniversary Ceremony took place on May 22, 2022, and featured speeches from OIST President, Dr. Peter Gruss, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Kosaburo Nishime, the Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, the Mayor of Onna Village, Yoshimi Nagahama, and the CEO of Suntory Holdings Limited, Takeshi Niinami, and a video message from Japan’s Prime Minister H.E. Fumio Kishida.
Peter Gruss speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“What a journey OIST has made—what a journey we have made over the past ten-plus years. The journey started with a man and an idea. It was a bold idea, one that many people considered an unrealistic dream. But as we can see today, the dream is in motion! This miracle occurred through inspiration, boldness, trust in people, and a readiness to invest.” Dr. Peter Gruss, OIST President

Hiroyuki Hosoda speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“In 2019, among institutions, OIST ranked ninth. The success of OIST gives me a great pleasure. OIST continues to be the venue of global interactions. I would like to see the continuation of these contributions.” Mr. Hiroyuki Hosoda, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan

Kosaburo Nishime speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“Since the early days, OIST attracted the best faculty and students from around the world. OIST research and education are cross disciplinary and highly advanced. Recently, the Japanese government started to promote quantum research. OSIT was designated as one of the centers for quantum technology. Startups are springing to life with OSIT’s research outcomes. I hope OIST’s collaboration with businesses will be further enhanced so Okinawa people can benefit from OIST. I believe innovation is key.” Mr. Kosaburo Nishime, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs

Denny Tamaki speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“OIST has become a world class research institution. It has allowed dreams to be realized for children of Okinawa and inspired children to study at OIST and contribute to global society. The research on coral, seaweed, and wave-based energy generation has great potential to contribute to Okinawa.” Mr. Denny Tamaki, the Governor of Okinawa

Yoshimi Nagahama speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“On behalf of Onna village, I would like to congratulate the 10th anniversary of OIST. Located in Onna village, OIST has attracted talents from all over the world. It has contributed to the promotion and self-sustaining development of Okinawa. Our village people have enjoyed exchanges with OIST. You’ve taught our kids about the fun of pursuing science.” Mr. Yoshimi Nagahama, the Mayor of Onna-son

Takeshi Niinami speaking at OIST 10th anniversary

“I’m proud to be involved with OIST in my current capacity. I always believed that science and business must partner together. We need to dream big. Japan has trained world class problem solvers over many decades. Innovation has been the bedrock of our economy and a key source of our competitiveness. I fear that Japan is at the risk of losing its edge. OIST plays a role that benefits the world, Okinawa, and Japan. While the road ahead is challenging, it also holds so much promise.” Mr. Takeshi Niinami, the CEO of Suntory Holdings LTD