FY2010 Preface

Preface: President Sydney Brenner



The OIST Promotion Corporation began in 2005 with two missions. The first was to initiate advanced research in Okinawa and the second was to prepare for the new Graduate University. In working toward accomplishing these missions, 2010 was a signal year for us. We moved the research from several temporary buildings in Uruma to a new world-class research laboratory on the Campus in Onna, and we occupied the central administrative building on the same site. For the first time we were able to have all of our researchers and staff in one place and in a facility specially designed to encourage interactions and sharing of research resources and space. Construction of the campus continued on a steady pace this year with the start of work on both Laboratory 2 and the five-hundred-seat Auditorium.  Despite the disruption of the construction and move, the research effort continued to grow steadily.

During the year, major steps were taken towards the realization of the Graduate University. Most importantly, the Establishing Members for the OIST Graduate University, consisting largely of the P.C.’s Board of Governors with Profs. Torsten Wiesel and Akito Arima as Co-Chairs, were able to secure the appointment of Dr. Jonathan Dorfan as President-Elect of the Graduate University. We embarked on the process of achieving the accreditation of the new University.  The extensive effort required in preparing for the new academic structures, such as faculty organization and the curriculum, has fallen on the PIs of the P.C., assisted by an accreditation team who coordinated the preparation of the large and complex application to MEXT, and I wish here to acknowledge their important contributions in this regard.

During the year, Dr. Jonathan Dorfan actively joined the projects, and as President-Elect, took over most of the planning for the new University. With his involvement we were able to carry out a remarkably successful recruitment of over 20 new faculty members.  We continued to add to the existing areas in molecular sciences, neuroscience, mathematical and computational sciences, as well asenvironmental science, but, importantly, achieved a remarkably successful expansion with the appointment of 12 theoretical and experimental physicists.  We are now in excellent position to start the new Graduate University in November 2011.

In addition to building the new university, one of OIST’s missions is to catalyze technological economic development on the island of Okinawa. To this end, OIST organized an "International Symposium: Toward the Development of an R&D Cluster in Okinawa." in October 2010. Approximately 180 people, from both home and abroad, attended the event, including three distinguished guests: Mr. Yoshinori Suematsu, Senior Vice Minister of the Cabinet Office; Mr. Hirokazu Nakaima, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Mr. John V. Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, and keynote speaker Mr. Philip Yeo, Special Advisor for Economic Development to the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office and the Chairman of SPRING Singapore. I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved in the organization of this very successful event. I am confident that it was the first in a series of similar activities that will contribute to strong economic growth on Okinawa.

Building relationships with the local community is a high priority for OIST, and I was pleased by the successful activities that took place this year. In October 2010 OIST opened its doors in an Open Campus event and invited all our neighbors to visit. Over 2,000 guests arrived and participated in the wide range of activities that had been arranged by OIST staff. In addition, we hosted many domestic and international delegations who wished to learn about our effort.  I am sure that the visitors left with a good impression and the knowledge that they are always welcome at OIST.

This will be my last report as President of the OIST P.C., as the P.C. will terminate on October 31. I began my involvement with the project about ten years ago and accepted appointment as Founding President on July 12th, 2004. I had a strong conviction that Japan was not doing enough to encourage its talented young scientists and that it had not succeeded in internationalizing its science. I dreamt of an interdisciplinary university laboratory empowering young scientists in an international setting, and now after seven years, we are on the brink of its realization.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the crucial role Dr. Robert Baughman has played as Executive Director of the P.C. over the last four years. Drs. Kenji Doya, who was the first PI appointed, and Jeffrey Wickens have been key leaders in the development of the research and academic program, with help from many of their colleagues. The scientists at OIST have not only built their research here under trying circumstances, but have unstintingly helped in many other ways towards realizing the new University. The administrative staff of OIST have performed admirably under very difficult conditions as we have developed a world-class international research program in only 6 years.  I also wish to express my thanks to the Cabinet Office for their help and my gratitude to the Japanese Government and the people of Japan who have provided the financial support for this project.