OIST Welcomes Two New Members of its Board of Governors

Nobel Laureates Dr. Erwin Neher and Dr. Ryoji Noyori join BOG.

neher ryoji board govereners appointment

This month, OIST is proud to welcome two new members of its Board of Governors. The board oversees the implementation of business conducted by the OIST School Corporation, and includes three Nobel laureates among its world-leading members: Dr. Jerome Friedman, Dr. Serge Haroche, and Dr. Yuan T. Lee, who will step down from his position on the board in September.

The two new members, Dr Erwin Neher and Dr Ryoji Noyori, are no exceptions in their excellence, and join the board’s esteemed company to help guide OIST onwards with their insight and expertise.

The board is comprised of up to 20 members, with new members selected by other board members from outstanding individuals in the fields of science and technology, university and other organizational management, or those with a superior understanding of development and promotion of Okinawa.


Dr. Erwin Neher

From Buchole in Bavaria, Germany, Dr Erwin Neher was fascinated by the natural world from an early age, which was soon followed by physics and mathematics. Seeking to combine the disciplines, he set out to become a biophysicist – a relatively new field of research at the time.

Studying physics at the Munich Technical University and the University of Wisconsin, he obtained his undergraduate degree under a Fulbright scholarship before following up with a Master’s and a PhD in 1970 investigating voltage-clamping in snail neurons.

Since then he conducted research at Yale University, the University of Göttingen and California Institute of Technology as a Fairchild Scholar, before returning to the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen.

While at the institute, Dr. Neher worked together with cell physiologist Dr. Bert Sackmann, leading to the development of the patch clamp, a device that allowed the first ever recording of single ion channel molecules. Neher and Sackmann were jointly awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the function of single ion channels in cells.

Dr. Neher is currently Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, where headed the Department for Membrane Biophysics, and is also a professor at the University of Göttingen.


Dr. Erwin Neher

Dr. Ryoji Noyori

Born in Kobe, Japan, Dr. Ryoji Noyori completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Industrial Chemistry at Kyoto University and immediately became an Instructor.

He received his Doctorate of Engineering from the same university under the guidance of Professor Hitoshi Nozaki and the following year he was appointed as an Associate Professor at Nagoya University. He then worked as a postdoctoral scholar under Professor E. J. Corey at Harvard University, before returning to Nagoya as a full professor.

Dr Noyori has received many notable awards on chirally catalyzed hydrogenations, including the Wolf Prize, the Roger Adams Award, and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001 alongside K. Barry Sharpless and William S. Knowles.

Dr. Noyori is the former President of RIKEN and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences among others, and served as the chairman of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Education Rebuilding Council.


Dr. Ryoji Noyori

OIST President Peter Gruss spoke about the new appointments: ”I am very happy that both Erwin Neher and Ryoji Noyori have joined OIST’s Board of Governors. Not only are they world-renowned scientists, but true leaders as well. I am looking forward to receiving their guidance towards achieving the mission and vision of OIST”.


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