Message from Program Director
Cell Innovation Program Director
President, Toyohashi University of Technology / Special adviser, RIKEN
Since completion of the human genome sequencing project in 2003, great progress has been made in
post-genome project research, i.e., genomic diversity based discovery of disease-susceptibility genes, and
elucidation of the genomic information underlying complex biological phenomena. In Japan, the "Genome
Network Project (GNP)" was launched to promote the latter, focusing on "transcription," the first step in the
conversion of genomic information into functional information, thereby revealing the basic structure of the
molecular network of transcriptional regulation, in which various transcription factors harmonically regulate
the expression of numerous genes. The "Cell Innovation Program" enhances the achievement of the GNP
by enhancing understanding of the intracellular system that controls the transcriptional regulation system at
a higher level and governs cellular differentiation and proliferation. For this purpose, the Cell Innovation
Program utilizes the most advanced genome-related technologies, including ultra-high-speed
next-generation sequencers and highly sensitive imaging technology. Specifically, the Program aims to
advance sequencing and imaging technology and establish the technical platform and methodology
necessary to understand cellular characteristics and kinetics at the level of a single cell, in leading-edge
research projects focusing on early development and differentiation and cellular oncogenic transformation.
Through this approach, the Program contributes to the progress of life science research in Japan.
My job as program director is to coordinate the activities of the Cell Innovation Program in cooperation with program officers and principal investigators, so that the Program may achieve its goals and advance this most important area of research.
Messages from Program Officers
Cell Innovation Program Officer for Sequencing & Data Analysis Centers
Professor, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University
The first technique for DNA sequencing was the Maxium-Gilbert method, developed in the late 1970s, and
soon replaced by the Sanger method, which has since been the method of choice. However, progress in
genomic science has created demand for high-capacity DNA sequence analysis, spurring development of
innovative technologies and techniques to accommodate this demand. The basis for next-generation
sequencing (NGS) was established in 2005, making high-throughput genomic analysis and gigabase
information readily available. NGS is expected to greatly accelerate research on gene expression regulation,
chromatin regulation, and transcriptome analysis, leading to more breakthroughs in the life sciences.
The Cell Innovation Program makes next generation sequencers available to front-line researchers in the areas of cellular proliferation and differentiation, cancer, and development. In addition, the Program aspires to develop the next-generation sequencer technology necessary to study these phenomena at the cellular or individual level. In other words, the Cell Innovation Program intends to utilize next-generation sequencers to understand biology through development of a new sequencing technology in combination with advanced imaging and other technologies. Researchers participating in the Leading Research Projects in the Program may obtain access to advanced NGS technology by working alongside the Sequencing Center.
Another important mission of the Program is to create technological innovations that will facilitate transformation of the vast amount of raw data produced by the Sequencing Center into significant information through the use of suitable filters. This important final step in the process of data analysis is a field marked by insufficient progress, and it is hoped that the Program will lead to a data analysis platform suitable to current needs. As one of the program officers, I hope that the Sequencing and Data Analysis Centers will contribute to great achievements through collaboration with the Leading Research Projects.
Cell Innovation Program Officer for Leading Research Projects
Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo
As a program officer, I am appointed to assist the Leading Research Projects of the Cell Innovation
Program. This program seeks to advance cell biology by applying next-generation sequencers. Because
sequencers are conceptually quite different than cell biology, simply combining the two does not
automatically translate into scientific advancement. This fact makes the Program both difficult and fascinating.
The Leading Research Projects in the Cell Innovation Program are responsible for pursuing this difficult and fascinating mission. These projects are classified into two categories: those aimed primarily at clarification of specific cellular biological phenomena at the molecular level (Project A), and those targeted to development of new technologies, based on next-generation sequencers, applicable to cell biology (Project B). For Project A, studies were selected under the themes of "cancer" and "development". The selected projects have ambitious goals and unique perspectives. For Project B, studies were selected not only with regard to method development, but also with regard to advancing studies in the themes of Project A. Projects A studies have already begun achieving their ambitious goals in technological development.
Overall success of the Cell Innovation Program will be achieved not only through the success of individual research projects, but also through collaboration between projects, the Sequencing Center and the Data Analysis Center. As the program officer responsible for the Leading Research Projects, I, along with Professors Sakaki and Yamamoto, will facilitate such collaboration so that the Program and its individual projects will achieve great accomplishments. I eagerly await the emergence of the resulting advances in cell biology. We sincerely appreciate your support.