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JCGG Office:
Systems Glycobiology Research Group,
RIKEN Global Research Cluster
2-1 Hirosawa Wako-shi,
Saitama 351-0198, JAPAN
Tel: +81(48)467-9613,
Fax: +81(48)462-4692

Message from the Chairperson

Toward the establishment of a global network and interdisciplinary glycoscience

I wish to express my best wishes for the New Year 2013, to all glycoscientists in Japan.

I became the current president of JCGG for the year 2013 by succeeding our founding president, Dr. Yoshitaka Nagai and our former president Dr. Toshisuke Kawasaki. The two previous presidents have made great contributions in establishing and activating JCGG activities during the last decade and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

The time flies so fast and ten years have now passed since the creation of JCGG in 2002. At that time a Consortium for Functional Glycomics (CFG) had been already established by Dr. James Paulson in the US which was totally supported by NIH/NISF. Instead of official direct support from the Japanese Government, Japanese scientists in the fields of glycobiology and glycotechnology took the initiative to create and support the consortium using their research grants as well as by personal donations. Those scientists have been separately funded by various ministries of the Japanese government or their funding agencies such as the grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) or the Ministry of Health and Welfare. They have joined this consortium and supported its activity through their own research grants. The JCGG also receives support from members who personally donated in various ways and also by the companies and foundations such as the Mizutani Foundation who are interested in glycoscience and related fields. I am most appreciative of those scientists and companies and foundations who have provided continuous support the JCGG activities. I would also like to thank Mr. Keiichi Yoshida (RIKEN) who has generously donated his time and efforts as secretary general for more than ten years. Without his contribution the JCGG would not have been able to operate effectively.

As you know the trend in glycoscience is now shifting and combining with other areas of research, namely multi-disciplinary research fields. As all of you know, last year the National Academy of Sciences, produced an excellent report entitled “Transforming Glycoscience: A Roadmap for the Future (2012) ” and many people have now realized this would be a timely report to inform various stake holders, governments, companies and mass media about the significance of glycoscience in terms of basic science and technology as well as innovation. Our plan is to have this report translated into Japanese by volunteers from the JCGG membership. The document will then be distributed to the public in Japan including people in the government and related stake holders. A similar report will be published by the European community as well.

Regarding the current funding situation of glycoscience in Japan, there are not so many grants but the glycoscience project entitled “A network of cutting-edge international research centers aiming for the integrated development of glycoscience” (Proposers, Naoyuki. Taniguchi in 2010 and Dr. Koichi Furukawa in 2011 ) has been selected as one of the 43 and 46 Japanese Master plans for Large Research Projects 2010 and 2011, respectively of seven fields of science: Humanities and Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Energy and Environmental and Earth Sciences, Material and Analytical Sciences, Physical Science and Engineering, Space Science and Information Science in Japan which had been proposed by the Science Council of Japan. We are planning to apply for it again this year because the Science Council of Japan will renew this project. We must keep in mind, however, that this proposal does not provide support for specific universities or research institutions but supports the many institutions in Japan. Therefore the selection committee of this project tells us that it is essential to get agreement of communities, since the intent of this plan is to show the direction of science to the public for the purpose of promoting cutting-edge science and strengthening and broadening the base of Japanese science. At this time, only ten out of 43 projects have been partly budgeted and glycoscience was not actually funded but I sincerely hope that this plan will eventually receive government supported.

Among JCGG activities, Drs. Hisashi Narimatsu and Toshisuke Kawasaki and others took the leadership to create a data base for Glycoscience as one of the activities of JCGG funded by MEXT and extended its activity to the ACGG (Asian Communications of Glycoscience and Glycotechnology founded by Drs. Akemi Suzuki and Hisashi Narimatsu) data base meeting in collaboration with experts in this field such as Dr. Kiyoko Aoki-Kinoshita who also contributed to the creation of the NAS report described above.

Lastly I would like to make some comments concerning the global network of our activities. I was unexpectedly selected as the president of the Society for Glycobiology (SFG) in 2014 and in collaboration with the Japan Carbohydrate Association (the current president is Dr. Tamao Endo) the SFG is planning to hold a joint meeting with the Japanese Society for Carbohydrate Research (JSCR) in Maui, Hawaii on the middle of November, 2014. I also would like to encourage all Asian and Oceania glycobiologists including ACGG to join the meeting. In addition to combining glycoscience with others areas of research, global activities are requisite for the future development of this field worldwide. The International Glycoscience Consortium, like JCGG, will be established soon. In addition to the above activities, the aim of our JCGG for the next five years or so will be “the Establishment of a global network and the development of interdisciplinary glycoscience” in which different research fields, such as chemistry, biology, bioinformatics and medicine should be combined to explore the the biological meaning and significance of glycans.

This year Dr. Jin-ichi Inokuchi (Tohoku Pharmaceutical University) has agreed to organize the JCGG symposium for the first time at Sendai on October 25-26. Your active participation will be much appreciated.

I hope the year 2013 will be a prosperous and happy one for all glycoscience researchers.

Naoyuki Taniguchi
Chairperson
Japan Consortium for Glycobiology and Glycotechnology