Professor at Toyama Prefectural University Chosen for Prestigious ERATO Program

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.9 edition (January 13, 2012) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The “Asano Active Enzyme Molecule Project” headed by Professor Yasuhisa Asano of Toyama Prefectural University’s Biotechnology Research Center has been awarded the Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) funding program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

JST began the ERATO program in 1981 with the goal of creating innovative new technology. Targeted projects are not existing research projects being extended, but research that comes from innovative perspectives. A research director is chosen, and young scientists work under that person for a period of time. The research director is in charge of management, including conceiving and planning the project, selecting and directing the staff scientists, and coordinating the budget. Past ERATO participants include internationally recognized scientists such as Nobel Prize-winner Ryoji Noyori, and Shuji Nakamura, creator of the blue LED.

This year, Dr. Asano was chosen among 1,817 candidates along with two scientists from Tokyo University and two scientists from Kyoto University. This is the first time that a researcher of a Toyama university has been chosen, and it is extremely rare for a university outside of the large metropolitan areas to be chosen.

After gathering researchers from around the world, the project will begin in April and will continue for five years, with funding of up to 1.2 billion yen (approximately 15.6 million USD).

The aim of the “Asano Active Enzyme Molecule Project” is to study the enzyme responses of not only germs but also plants and insects, which is hoped to be a basis for new synthetic substances and health screening methods. In the future, we may see the creation of industrial technology that does not use fossil fuels, or the ability to perform a comprehensive health exam with only a blood sample.

Toyama Prefecture is already historically well-known for the medicine industry, but we hope that this ERATO-chosen scientific research project will give Toyama even more international recognition.

Biotechnology Research Center, Toyama Prefectural University website (English):
http://www.pu-toyama.ac.jp/BR/asano/e_index.html

ERATO website (English):
http://www.jst.go.jp/erato/basics.html

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

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