About NIPS

Message from the Director-General


  The National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS) is an inter-university research institute focused on research and education to understand human physiology. NIPS promotes collaborative studies amongst both National and International researchers and organizations to together help understand body functions and their mechanisms. Research at NIPS also provides further understanding of the fundamental mechanisms causing diseases, to enable new and improved treatments for these diseases and their symptoms.
A major focus of current research at NIPS is to understand the brain. Most developed in humans among all creatures, the brain is critical for how we detect, respond and adapt to our environment, through the processes of sensation, motor control, learning and memory. However, the brain also directs our individual behaviors and desires, and how we communicate with each other socially through language and emotions. Furthermore, the brain also interacts with our visceral organ systems to regulate body homeostasis. Research at NIPS also aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of body homeostasis through our research on the interaction between the immune system and brain, on the regulation of the cardiovascular system, on whole body and cellular metabolism, and on how we regulate our biological defenses against damage and pathogens. NIPS strives to advance our understanding of brain function and body homeostasis, from the molecular, cellular, organ, whole body and society levels. We provide and develop cutting-edge research technology, including computational and mathematical approaches, to achieve these strategic goals. In addition, in cooperation with the Institute for Molecular Sciences at Okazaki, a leading institute on material and chemical sciences, we are striving to establish an innovative interdisciplinary research field “Spine Life Science”.

The NIPS advocates the following three major missions.

 The first mission of NIPS is to conduct cutting-edge research in the physiological sciences across various levels, from the molecular and cellular through to organ systems, and to integrate this multi-level information to understand homeostasis in the living body. As research in life sciences has become diversified and “translatable”, NIPS aims to conduct world-leading research focused on the basic medical sciences, especially physiology and brain sciences. The application and development of novel and rigorous basic research techniques necessary to answer fundamental questions is also part of our mission.

 The second mission of NIPS is to play the role of a research hub. NIPS conducts collaborations with scientists at universities and research institutes to further strengthen and enhance research expertise in Japan at a leading global level. To achieve this goal NIPS also encourages collaborations with foreign researchers, and we provide and develop specialized and cutting-edge research techniques and equipment to facilitate these collaborations. NIPS provides advanced devices such as electron and laser microscopy for subcellular and cellular imaging, through to 7T MRI for whole body human imaging, as well as transgenic animal and viral vector resources. NIPS also supports advanced research workshops in various fields to help establish and support research collaborations and discussions to advance the sharing of knowledge. Through these activities NIPS is a hub for domestic and international research communities to intercommunicate and support each other. In 2023, a new high gradient 3T MRI, the first machine in Japan, has been installed at NIPS. However, the current situation is that the budget for advanced equipment to be deployed at inter-university research institutes is extremely tight. We will negotiate with the government to install new research equipment and to update equipment. On the other hand, we continue to maintain and provide fundamental experimental technologies such as electrophysiological techniques. At present, NIPS participates in a number of programs as their core organizations, such as Japan-US Brain Research Cooperative Program, Advanced Bioimaging Support and Brain/MINS2.0.
 In 2023, the restriction on research activity due to Covid-19 was removed and joint research, such as NIPS workshop and collaboration, has quickly recovered. We will promote efficient joint research by employing DX.

 The third mission of NIPS is to provide advanced and thorough education for young scientists. NIPS is responsible for the 5-year PhD course in physiological sciences of SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies). NIPS also provides further education for graduate students and young researchers from other universities and industries in Japan and internationally, through various research training programs that include the annual NIPS Training Course and via NIPS Internships as well as the training course for researchers in industry.

 To understand human body functions and to apply our extended knowledge to support human life is our ultimate goal. NIPS will make every effort to open our institute to every research community that can work together with us towards this goal. For this purpose, your understanding and support is appreciated.


Junichi Nabekura, MD, PhD, Director General

nabekura signature.jpg


1981 MD, Kyushu University, 1987 PhD, Kyushu University, 1987 Postdoc Researcher, Washington University, 1991 Assistant Professor, Tohoku University, 1993 Associate Professor, Akita University, 1995 Associate Professor, Kyushu University, 2003 Professor NIPS, 2013 Vice Director General, NIPS, 2019 Director General, NIPS and Vice President, NINS. Specialty; Neurophysiology