Outline of Research Projects

Background and rationale

Inflammation is the host’s response to tissue damage or perceived threat.  In practice, it is a complex cascade of biochemical events that induce and amplify responses involving soluble factors, the vascular and immune systems as well as parenchymal cells within the target tissue.  Under healthy conditions, inflammation serves to protect the host from infection and other harmful stimuli, and facilitate tissue repair processes.  However, in what is a rapidly expanding area of research, inflammation is also recognized as an integral component of a broad range of diseases; chronic inflammation, in particular, results in tissue destruction and/or altered homeostasis.  Although inflammation was mainly associated with infections and the immune system in the past, the research field of inflammation is now rapidly expanding because of emerging and ample evidence for a much broader range of diseases that have telltale markers of inflammation.  Prolonged or chronic inflammation is typically characterized by tissue destruction and by a progressive shift in the types of inflammatory cells present within the affected tissue.  Thus, while beneficial for maintaining the host’s homoeostasis, inflammation also frequently contributes to the development of diseases, most notably, infectious diseases, allergy, autoimmunity, and cancer.  Furthermore, evidence is accumulating that inflammation underlies the development and/or exacerbation of cardiovascular, metabolic, and many other diseases.  Although in many of these examples, it remains unclear if inflammation is a cause or consequence, it is evident that regulation of inflammation by the host must be correctly balanced between protection and destruction.

The study of inflammation links together a multitude of research disciplines and, as a result, is becoming one of the most challenging topics in medical research.  The potential importance and impact of a multi-disciplinary approach to inflammation research is underscored by the fact that these diseases represent major causes of death in developed countries.  Thus, there are rapidly accumulating aspirations for organizing mutually cohesive and integrative research arrangements between seemingly distant fields.  Such efforts will not only forge new scientific directions and foster the next-generation of scientists, but also generate social benefits through the development of new knowledge and tools in the control of the inflammation-associated diseases.

In both the MPS and the UT, there are many scientists whose research activities fall within the broad context of inflammation.  These research projects have essentially been carried-out individually by each scientist in his/her own field.  Although the independence of each scientific project must be respected, this may have the result of limiting the necessary long strides to achieve success in this rapidly emerging field of wide-vista inflammation research.  Therefore, the establishment of this Center by both organizations will create a new framework to amalgamate seemingly distant fields and stimulate mutual cooperation, collaboration and exchange of information.  These efforts will have synergistic effects on creating new ideas and approaches for establishing new projects, as well as foster a new generation of scientists endowed with international experience, deep knowledge and cutting-edge skills.  These expected achievements will become invaluable assets for both organizations, and further increase the organizations’ international visibility and, expectedly, make a model case for a borderless, internationally-driven scientific community.  

Vision of the Center

In this Center, we will strive for a multidisciplinary research effort with a focus on the broad regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory responses. Our common interest is a better understanding, and ultimately the control of various inflammation-associated diseases, currently a major cause of death.  Thus far, studies on inflammation have been carried-out in a somewhat un-coordinated manner in which individual researchers have focused on their own interests in the field.  In view of the complexity of inflammatory responses that involve a multitude of molecules, tissues and organs, this decentralized approach has its limitations.  Instead, an integrative approach that involves different experts cooperating in a mutually cohesive manner is becoming increasingly necessary to gain new insights into the many facets of the regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory responses and the development of inflammation-associated diseases. 

The Center will also seek to improve graduate education and the training of young scientists who will to bring to the new research field a wide and deep base of knowledge, incisive ideas, and new techniques.  Further, it will strive to foster the development of junior researchers in this research field.  Thus, it is our goal that the Center, following an initial period of 5 years, will become an internationally visible and respected organization for producing innovative mechanistic insights and concepts on integrative inflammology.  In addition, it will generate new rationales for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of inflammation-associated diseases, as well as for spawning the next generation of top-flight researchers in this field.  It is our hope that the Center will become an important asset for strengthening multidisciplinary medical research for both the MPS and UT.

  All activities of the Center will be coordinated by the Board of the Center, which consists of Co-Directors (Rudolf Grosschedl of MPS and Tadatsugu Taniguchi of UT) and Deputy Directors (Dietmar Vestweber of MPS and Masanori Hatakeyama of UT).  As for dealing with administrative and organizational issues, Toshihiko Suzuki, Director, Administration Department of the Institute of Industrial Science, will serve as Administrative Coordinator.

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