FY2010 General Report Part 1

I. Matters relating to the Improvement in the Quality of Services Provided to the Public and Other Operations

  1. Research and Development (R&D) on Science and Technology
  2. Publication of Research Results and Promotion of their Use
  3. Training of Researchers, Enhancement of Research Skills and Exchange of Researchers
  4. Preparations for Establishment of OIST
  5. Effective Public Relations Activities and Transmission of Information

1. Research and Development (R&D) on Science and Technology

(1) R&D activities

1) Promotion of R&D activities

In preparation of the opening of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to provide best-in-the-world education in science and technology, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Promotion Corporation (OIST) has promoted R&D activities in innovative and advanced interdisciplinary fields such as in Neurosciences, Molecular Sciences, Mathematical and Computational Sciences and Environmental Sciences, etc. The number of research units reached 27 at the end of FY2010, and 150 researchers (Principal Investigators, researchers and technicians) are engaged in research activities. 

Table 1: List of Research Units (as of March 31, 2011)

#Name of PINationality of PIUnit Name
1 Dr. Kenji Doya Japanese Neural Computation Unit
2 Dr. Mitsuhiro Yanagida Japanese G0 Cell Unit
3 Dr. Sydney Brenner British Molecular Genetics Unit
4 Dr. Ichiro Maruyama Japanese Information Processing Biology Unit
5 Dr. Takayuki Naito Japanese Molecular Neurobiology Unit
6 Dr. Robert Sinclair Australian Mathematical Biology Unit
7 Dr. Ichiro Masai Japanese Development Neurobiology Unit
8 Dr. Klaus Stiefel Austrian Theoretical and Experimental Neurobiology Unit
9 Dr. Jeff Wickens New Zealander Neurobiology Research Unit
10 Dr. Gail Tripp New Zealander Human Developmental Neurobiology Unit
11 Dr. Gordon Arbuthnott Scottish Brain Mechanism for Behavior Unit
12 Dr. Erik De Schutter Belgian Computational Neuroscience Unit
13 Dr. Fadel Samatey French Trans-Membrane Trafficking Unit
14 Dr. Tomoyuki Takahashi Japanese Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit
15 Dr. Mary Ann Price American Developmental Signalling Unit
16 Dr. Noriyuki Satoh Japanese Marine Genomics Unit
17 Dr. Jonathan Miller American Physics and Biology Unit
18 Dr. Holger Jenke-Kodama * German Evolutionary Systems Biology Unit
19 Dr. Hiroaki Kitano Japanese Open Biology Unit
20 Dr. Alexander Mikheyev * American/Russian Ecology and Evolution Unit
21 Dr. Satoshi Mitarai * Japanese Marine Biophysics Unit
22 Dr. Ulf Skoglund Swedish Structural Cellular Biology Unit
23 Dr. Masaki Isoda Japanese Unit on Neural Systems and Behavior
24 Dr. Igor Goryanin Russian/British Biological Systems Unit
25 Dr. David Van Vactor American Formation and Regulation of Neuronal Connectivity Research Unit
26 Dr. Akira Tonomura Japanese Electron Microscopy Unit
27 Dr. Bernd Kuhn German Optical Neuroimaging Uni

* Independent New Investigator

Table 2:  Number of researchers, etc. in research units (number of people)

CategoryEnd of FY2010End of FY2009Rise/Fall
Principal Investigator 27 22 5
Group Leader 8 3 5
Researcher 74 74 0
Graduate Student
Research Assistant
4 10 △6
Technician 37 38 △1
Total 150 147 3

Most of the facilities in Laboratory 1 in Onna Campus, which has been in use since the end of FY2009, have been in operation after the relocation of research units from the research facilities related to Okinawa Prefecture in Uruma city mostly completed in May 2010.

Also, the facility in Uruma City was continued to be utilized as provisional research space. OIST has been conducting DNA sequencing at the Technology Center established in the facility, and OIST has collaborated with Okinawa Prefecture in DNA related projects. Especially in FY2010, collaborative research with the University of the Ryukyus and venture companies in Okinawa, etc. was commenced under the project of “establishing a research center in aim of developing an intellectual cluster” which was newly introduced by Okinawa Prefecture through utilization of the Okinawa Genome Research Promotion Council, an organization that OIST constitutes along with the University of the Ryukyus and Okinawa Science and Technology Promotion Center.

2) Efficiency of research-related administrative procedure

In order to enhance efficiency of research-related administrative procedure as well as to improve convenience of researchers, the following measures were carried out while examining the effectiveness and cost performance.

  • Introduced a system for managing breeding of experimental animals to provide integrated management of the genetically-modified animals that are used in experiments, and established a system for providing reliable information to the researchers.
  • Established internal website concerning various experiments in both English and Japanese to provide information such as outline of related regulations and formats of necessary applications.
3) Promotion of joint research and shared use of research facility and equipment

In order to formulate a global network, joint researches with domestic and overseas universities, research institutes and private companies were proactively conducted. Total 28 joint researches have been conducted in FY2010 as shown in the table below.

Table 3:  Number of Joint Researches

Fiscal YearUniversity and Research InstituteCompanyTotal
FY2009 14 4 4 22
FY2010 19 7 2 28

In order to enable use of OIST’s research facilities from external researchers, the “Stipulations for Joint Use of RI Facility” was newly established in November 2010. In FY2010, we have received an application for use (number of users: 7) based on this Stipulations and approved the use.

4) Enhancement of experiment-supporting functions

While promoting collaboration and cooperation among researchers, in order to efficiently develop a competitive research environment, we have sorted all research equipment into the following categories: (a) “common equipment” - to be collectively managed for the use of research units; (b) “shared equipment” – to be managed by the main using research units, while facilitating use by other research units; and (c) “individual equipment” to be mainly used by individual research unit. Operation based on the categories have been started and moreover, we have developed a list of major research equipment available at OIST, categorized by their functions, together with information on whether the equipment is common, shared or individual, as well as the location and the section in charge of its management, etc. The information has been shared internally, and has promoted effective management and active use.

As efforts in providing support for sample processing, data acquisition and analysis, supporting system for mass spectrometry has been enhanced in addition to the electron microscope examination. Also for genome analysis, Technology Center was newly established in accordance with the organizational change that took place in April 2010, and the efficient operation of next-generation genomic sequencers has been ensured.

As for the purchase and operation of common/shared equipment, “Common Resources Advisory Committee” consisting of PIs and related administrative officials has been newly established in November 2010 to regularly discuss matters in order to realize effective and equal management, through which proposals were made to the President.

(2) Recruitment of researchers

1) Recruitment of Principle Investigators (PIs)

As a result of the continued efforts made in recruiting excellent researchers from Japan and abroad, the following 5 PIs were newly appointed in FY2010, and the total number reached 27. (*: Visiting PIs.)

  • Dr. Isoda (Neural Systems and Behavior Unit)
  • Dr. Tonomura (Electron Microscopy Unit) *
  • Dr. Goryanin (Biological Systems Unit) *
  • Dr. Van Vactor (Formation and Regulation of Neuronal Connectivity Research Unit) *
  • Dr. Kuhn (Optical Neuroimaging Unit)

In addition, toward the accreditation of the Graduate University, extensive recruiting and selection activities have been carried out since June 2010, in order to accelerate the recruitment of researchers who will become faculty members such as professors. Special emphasis was put on the recruitment in the physical science field from the viewpoint of ensuring balance between life science and physical science, and to further enhance the interdisciplinary aspect of the Graduate University.

The recruitment was carried out by utilizing the global network which has been established through international workshops, etc., as well as advertisements posted on OIST Website and major scientific journals (Nature and Science), also by asking for recommendations from other universities and research institutes etc. As a result, there were 569 applicants to the approx. 15 positions. Through the selection process of CV review, interview, and having a lecture presentation, 14 appointments were made by the end of March. (Number of appointments has increased to 19 as of June 15.)

Three of them started working at OIST as PIs in April 2011.

  • Dr. Yamamoto (Cell Signal Unit)
  • Dr. Tanaka (Chemistry and Chemical Bioengineering Unit)
  • Dr. Hikami (Mathematical and Theoretical Physics Unit)

Recruitment of researchers, not only PIs, is made internationally, and the ratio of foreign staffs (researchers and technicians) within the research units was 42% in total as of the end of FY2010. The foreign staffs came from as many as 24 nations and regions, formulating a highly international and diverse environment.

Table 4:  Ratio of foreign staffs in research units (As of March 31, 2011)

CategoryNumber of foreign staffs(Ratio)
Principle Investigator 16 out of 27 59%
Group Leader 1 out of 8 13%
Researcher 31 out of 74 42%
Graduate Student 0 out of 4 0%
Technician 15 out of 37 41%
Total 63 out of 150 42%
2) Life support for researchers

Full time dedicated staffs were assigned in the newly established Recruiting and Assistance Section of HR group in accordance with the organization change that took place in April 2010. Accordingly, structure for providing life support for newly joining researchers from other prefectures and overseas was established and development of external network was promoted. Especially, for supporting non-Japanese employees, an English guidebook reflecting specific needs was created and provided. Furthermore, supporting services for people newly joining were improved / strengthened which include assistance in various procedures at public offices, selecting housings, purchasing cars, and providing information of schools for their children.

3) Efficient and fair use of the research facilities

As for the research facilities in the new campus, in order to ensure fair and effective use among research units, a floor coordinator has been selected from PIs and appointed to each floor of Laboratory 1. Also, allocation and usage of labs and common spaces were discussed in the newly set Common Resources Advisory Committee to ensure fair and efficient management.


2. Publication of Research Results and Promotion of their Use

(1) Publication of research results

Publication in international journals with high impact factors is an important factor in the research evaluation for PIs, and OIST researchers were encouraged to submit their papers to such prestigious academic journals.

Research publications and presentations from research units including 5 units established in FY2010 are as shown below:

  • Publications in papers (academic journals): 82
  • Publication in Books (chapter), etc.: 2
  • Conference presentations (international): 210
  • Conference presentations (domestic): 55

Regarding published papers, the total number has largely increased, and the number of publication in journals with high impact factors also rose.

Table 5:  Transition of number of published papers


  • 1: From FY2010, the method of compiling and presenting the number of published papers was changed from calendar-year basis to fiscal-year basis. For FY2009, data both compiled on calendar-year basis and fiscal-year basis are shown for comparison.
  • 2: Impact Factor: Is a measure of the frequency with which the "average article" in a journal has been cited, which represents the level of impact the journal has.

(2)  Management of intellectual property and filing patent application

Efforts have been exerted in ensuring proper management and use of intellectual properties by making use of patent agents. The number of patent applications and patents granted has steadily increased. Also, lectures by external experts targeted at researchers were held in order to raise awareness for patent application and acquisition.

Table 6:  Number of patent applications and patents granted

Number of patent applications
(Cumulative total)
Number of patents granted
(Cumulative total)
End of Mar. 2009 (end of previous fiscal year) 8 3 1 0
End of Mar. 2010 (end of current fiscal year) 10 5 4 0

The ways of utilizing the intellectual properties of OIST at companies were studied in the international workshop on the development of an R&D cluster in Okinawa, which was hosted by OIST in October 2010. Presentations of research results and possibility of commercialization were made by OIST’s PIs, and the possibility was studied by international specialists experienced in starting new businesses.

3. Training of Researchers, Enhancement of Research Skills and Exchange of Researchers

(1)  Accepting students through collaborative graduate programs, etc.

In FY2010, new MOU for research and graduate training was concluded with University of Antwerp (Belgium) for the interaction among researchers and students; and the total number of MOUs reached 7 including 3 that were concluded at the end of previous year (with Kyoto University, the University of Edinburgh (UK), and the University Ottawa (Canada)). Based on these MOUs, OIST has accepted total 8 graduate students in the doctoral course (including 3 non-Japanese) in FY2010.

Furthermore, based on the Short Term Student Research Assistant which regulation was developed in the previous fiscal year, OIST accepted graduate students as short-term student research assistants from the University of the Ryukyus, California Institute of Technology (US), the University of Texas at Austin (US), and Indian Institutes of Technology, as well as from other universities which MOU has not been concluded. The number of students accepted in FY2010 totaled 19 (including 16 non-Japanese).

In response to the expansion in accepting students, the Student & Admission Section, which was newly established in FY2010, provided the following measures to enhance the support for their daily life:

  • Developed OIST help line to provide 24 hours support to respond to emergency situations.
  • Developed a website to support the lives of non-Japanese students in Okinawa.
  • Held a seminar on traffic safety for non-Japanese students.
  • As part of the measures to increase the name recognition of OIST, an essay contest was conducted, and scientific essays written in English were collected mainly from university students studying in Japan in the science and technology fields. For the 19 students who were awarded, “Sun, Sea, and Science Student (4S) Workshop” was held in March 2011.

(2)  Holding international course, workshops & seminars

During fiscal year 2010, 14 workshops either hosted or co-sponsored by OIST took place, bringing as many as 362 lecturers and participants together by 8 hosted workshops out of 14 workshops for vigorous scientific discussions.

Table 7:  Number of International Courses, Workshops & Seminars held and participants

International Courses / Workshops
Number of courses/workshops 8
Participants (non-Japanese) 362 (239)
Number of seminars (hosted by Units) 59
Number of seminars (others) 50
Participants (non-Japanese) 2,762 (1,260) 2,762 (1,260)

Table 8:  Details of International Courses, Workshops (hosted by OIST)

DateName of Workshops
May 24 – June 4, 2010 Quantitative Evolutionary and Comparative Genomics*
June 14 – July 1, 2010 Okinawa Computational Neuroscience Course 2010
July 12 – 22, 2010 Developmental Neurobiology Course*
Oct 3 – 6, 2010 The NeuroPhysiome
Oct 6 – 7, 2010 Toward the Development of an R&D Cluster in Okinawa
Dec 1 – 3, 2010 Computational Ecology Workshop
Dec 6 – 11, 2010 Evolution of Complex Systems 2010
Feb 23 – 26, 2011 Garuda 4

*: International course newly established in FY2010

4. Preparations for Establishment of OIST

(1) Search and appointment of President

The selection of the first President of the Graduate University was carried out by the Establishing Members of OIST. As a result, Dr. Jonathan Dorfan, former Director of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (now renamed SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory) was named President-elect in the 3rd Meeting of the Establishing Members held on July 8th, 2010. Dr. Dorfan became an Establishing Member under the appointment by the Prime Minister on the following day, and has taken the leadership in conducting the preparation works for the opening of the Graduate University. OIST has worked to provide appropriate support to Dr. Dorfan so he would be able to fully perform his duties.

(2) Preparation for the opening of the Graduate University

OIST has steadily prepared for the application to be submitted to the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for the approval of the Bylaws of the School Corporation and the establishment of the Graduate University. The said application was submitted to MEXT on March 31, 2011 under the names of the representatives of the Establishing Members of OIST (Co-chairs Dr. Akito Arima and Dr. Torsten Wiesel). Preparation of the financial documents to be submitted in June 2011 was also carried out.

As for the development of regulations required for the operation of the Graduate University, the Rules of the Graduate University, which constitutes a part of the accreditation documents was developed on setting basic matters, and study was conducted while referring to the regulations of similar institutes. The preparation work is also to be continued in FY2011, while giving consideration to the international features of the Graduate University, and referring to conditions of other universities in and out of Japan to ensure world class operation of the School Corporation / Graduate University.

(3) Preparing for the recruitment of students

In aim of recruiting outstanding students, OIST conducted the following measures based on the discussions in the Meeting of the Establishing Members:

  • Expanded the acceptance of students by utilizing the "short-term student research assistant program".
  • The Student & Admission Section collected information and attended explanatory sessions of other universities.
  • Enhanced PR activities (presentation at scientific meetings, development of a simplified brochure, etc.)

Furthermore, as part of the measures to increase the name recognition of OIST, an essay contest was conducted, and scientific essays written in English were collected mainly from university students studying in Japan in the science and technology fields. For the 19 students who were awarded, “Sun, Sea, and Science Student (4S) Workshop” was held in March 2011.

(4) Support to the Establishing Members

Three Meetings of the Establishing Members (MEM) were held in FY2010 (3rd MEM in July 2010, 4th MEM in October 2010 and 5th MEM in February 2011). In these meetings, in addition to the discussions on the documents for accreditation and operation policy of the Graduate University, report of faculty recruitment activities was made and discussions to ensure financial resources for the financial support to students, etc. were held.

These activities in preparation for the establishment of the Graduate University, led by the Executive Assistant and Director of the Academic Affairs Division who were newly appointed in FY2010 were conducted systematically through sharing information and reporting the progress to the Officers and Directors in the weekly Executive Committee. In addition, close communication with the Establishing Members including the President-elect was ensured while preparing the required documents under the cooperation of the PIs who will become faculties of the Graduate University.


5. Effective Public Relations Activities and Transmission of Information

As efforts to further enhance clear dissemination of the status of progress, etc. in preparing for the opening of the Graduate University and increasing the visibility in the public, OIST’s Website was updated in two stages in February and March 2011 by applying effective measures such as pictures, images, and footage that are visually appealing.

In addition, in order to contribute to the recruitment of researchers and students and development of collaborative relationship with other universities, research institutes and companies, active public relation activities were conducted as below to disseminate information of the Graduate University and research results of OIST.

  • Press releases: Total 17
  • Press conferences: Total 5 (including 2 press conferences to announce research results)
  • Prepared and distributed Annual Report and Newsletters
  • Revised and distributed brochures

Active outreach activities were further enhanced to obtain understanding from the local community on the activities of OIST, as well as to contribute to the science and technology education for local students and children.