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Lectures

* Lectures are given in Japanese.

11:00-11:45

The Beauty of Bryophytes for Cleaning Water

Dr. Misao Itoga
Plant Science Center, RIKEN Yokohama Institute

1st floor, Main Office Building

Dr. Misao Itoga

Over hundreds of millions of years, our Earth has created a rich treasure of biodiversity resources that we are only beginning to understand. Phytoremediation research, which aims to find and utilize plants that can super-accumulate heavy metals and valuable metals, has been in the spotlight in recent years as a solution for the treatment and recovery of such metals.

In our own research, we identified a moss that is both tolerant of waste-incinerator ash and removes lead; we are now working to exploit this ability for practical applications. Since moss is a small organism, we are looking at ways to mass produce it, and we have now reached a point where we can get a bathtub-full after two weeks. We have also discovered a gourd moss that can recover gold. My lecture will share some of the untold story behind that interesting discovery.

Many plants are known to have a naturally occurring ability to super-accumulate metals other than lead and gold. If humans want to create opportunities to benefit from biodiversity resources, we need to understand more about them. I firmly believe that these resources are the key to our future health and prosperity.

Gourd moss
Gourd moss

13:00-13:45

Research and Clinical Applications for Dealing with the Threat of H1N1 Influenza

Dr. Toshihisa Ishikawa
Omics Science Center, RIKEN Yokohama Institute

1st floor, Main Office Building

Dr. Toshihisa Ishikawa

More than 18,000 people worldwide died from the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 (Fig. 1), including Japan. The first case in Japan was diagnosed on May 9, with cases rapidly increasing from September and peaking in November. As the infections spread in 2009 and 2010, we worked on a genetic mutation analysis and tried to clarify the cause of the spread at the genetic level. We found the genetic mutation pattern at the start of the outbreak and at the peak to be different and were able to clearly discriminate between the two patterns (Fig. 2). These finding were published by Jean-Etienne Morlighem et al. in PLoS ONE, 6(4), e18956, 2011.

Currently, there is great concern that the highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus will spread among humans. The death rate for H5N1 has been reported at more than 60%. If this virus were to spread in Japan, the 2009 pandemic would pale in comparison and could seriously affect social and economic activities. It is vitally important to put measures in place now, and MEXT has been vigorously promoting the development of a rapid-detection kit through the Japan Initiative for Global Research Network on Infectious Diseases (J-GRID).

The structure and mechanism of H1N1.
Fig.1 The structure and mechanism of H1N1.
The two patterns of H1N1 in Japan during the 2009 pandemic.
Fig.2 The two patterns of H1N1 in Japan during the 2009 pandemic.

14:00-14:45

NMR Spectroscopy and Drug Discovery Research

Dr. Hideo Takahashi
Graduate School of Nanobioscience, Yokohama City University

1st floor, Main Office Building

高橋栄夫

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a type of spectroscopy that uses the magnetic property of atomic nuclei. The Yokohama Institute and the Yokohama City University have one of the biggest large-scale NMR facilities in Japan. In the 70 years since NMR has been used to observe physical phenomena, it has contributed to the work of many Nobel Prize researchers. Developments in measuring methods and progress in NMR equipment development have broadened the role of NMR in chemistry, biology, medicine and other scientific fields.

This lecture will explain the basic principles behind NMR spectroscopy (i.e., what is happening inside the device and what things can be done with NMR) as well as introduce our research elucidating molecular interaction mechanisms and discuss how this knowledge is being used for drug discovery.

The basics of NMR spectroscopy
The basics of NMR spectroscopy

15:00-15:45

Developing the World's First 1GHz NMR Machine by using High-Temperature Superconductivity

Dr. Hideaki Maeda
Systems and Structural Biology Center. RIKEN Yokohama Institute

1st floor, Main Office Building

Dr. Hideaki Maeda

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to determine the 3D structure of proteins by taking advantage of the fact that atomic nuclei in a substance will, when subject to a strong magnetic field, absorb specific electromagnetic frequencies. The higher the magnetic field, the higher the sensitivity and the better the resolution of the generated spectrum. The development of NMR parallels the development of high-field magnets. NMR magnets have traditionally been made of a superconducting coil of trinobium-tin (Nb3Sn). This material has a critical field of 23.5 teslas, and in terms of absorption frequency for hydrogen nuclei, a 1GHz device has been the limit. We are attempting to break this barrier by creating an even stronger magnetic field using high-temperature superconductive wire. We aim to realize 24.2 teslas (1.03 GHz). It is the world's first attempt to exceed the 1GHz barrier. If we can create high-temp superconductive NMR, we will be able to raise the magnetic field in one fell swoop, making a 35-tesla (1.5GHz device) more than a dream. Such a device would have an immeasurable impact on life sciences research.

An 11.75 tesla (500MHz) high-temperature superconducting NMR magnet
An 11.75 tesla (500MHz) high-temperature superconducting NMR magnet. We were able to obtain a good NMR signal for proteins, and are working toward a 24.2 tesla (1.03GHz) NMR device.