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 the creatures, the brain is critical for how we detect, respond and adapt to our environment, through the processes of sensation, motor control and 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, and research at NIPS also aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of body homeostasis through our research on the interaction between immune system and brain, on the regulation of the cardiovascular system, on whole body and cellular metabolism, on temperature control 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, and we provide and develop cutting-edge research technology, including computational and mathematical approaches, to achieve these strategic goals.
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. In 2021, 3 new research divisions have been launched at NIPS. To apply and develop 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 National and International 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 in areas including electron and laser microscopy for subcellular through to human imaging, and in transgenic animals and viral vectors. NIPS also supports advanced research workshops in various fields to help establish and support research collaborations, discussions and advances and sharing of knowledge. Through these activities NIPS is a hub for domestic and international research communities to intercommunicate and support each other. At present, NIPS participates in a number of programs as their core organizations, such as Comprehensive Brain Science Network, Japan-US Brain Research Cooperative Program, Advanced Bioimaging Support and Brain/MINS Beyond.
In 2021, due to the spread of the COVID-19 infection lasting in 2021, onsite collaborations conducted at NIPS were restricted. On the other hand, new forms of collaboration, such as online workshops, have been affirmatively attempted. New collaboration at Center for Animal Resources and Collaborative Study has also started. New styles of collaboration which are wholly or predominantly facilitated by remote access systems will be accelerated and streamlined for maximum efficiency.
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, for education through various research training programs that include the annual NIPS Training Course and via NIPS Internships. To further facilitate the interaction with the universities, the employment of 2 new professors under a cross-appointment system has been introduced at 2021.
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 will be appreciated.
Junichi Nabekura, MD, PhD, Director General
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