About IFReC

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Uniqueness and Objectives

Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC), directed by Prof. Shizuo Akira, was selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology as one of the nation's five exclusive World Premier International (WPI) Research Centers. Since the WPI program was established in 2007, IFReC has engaged in high-level research that is expected to make it an internationally renowned research center in the field of immunology.

Immunology explores the mechanisms that protect the body against various pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Because the immune system is essential for eliminating infectious pathogens from the body, its malfunction gives rise to various immune disorders including allergies, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and allograft rejection during transplantation.

The scientific aim of IFReC is to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of the immune system by employing not only traditional immunology experiments, but also a variety of imaging and bioinformatics technologies. In order to accomplish this goal, IFReC has recruited a diverse team of imaging and informatics scientists. These efforts will enable immunologists to directly track the dynamic behavior of immune cells and their cell-to-cell networks in order to clarify how immune cells respond to pathogens and cancers in vivo.

IFReC continues to build an incomparable international research center focused on its team of over 20 world-class principal investigators and their laboratories.

Historical Background of the Establishment of the Immunology Frontier Research Center


A Message from the Director

Immunology has been evolving through the incorporation of molecular and cellular biological techniques. As a result, a number of immune cells and cytokines have been discovered, and signaling pathways and diverse mechanisms have been identified. Research in immunology to date has been carried out either by isolating immune cells from the body and examining those cells in vitro, or by using in vitro cultured cell lines. However, results obtained by these methods alone make it difficult to draw the whole picture of immunological responses, such as how the immune system actually works in the body or how immune cells behave under pathological conditions in vivo. We need to develop new research projects to deeply understand immune responses-the biological reactions occurring in the whole body-as well as clarifying the functions of each immune cell and related molecules.

IFReC conducts research integrating Immunology, Imaging and Bioinformatics to comprehensively understand the immune system including spatiotemporal information by developing technologies to visualize and analyze the dynamics, activation state, and interaction of immune cells in vivo. Such efforts are expected to lead to the establishment of new immunotherapies such as development of vaccines for infectious diseases based on control of immune dynamism and control of immune reaction against cancer cells.

IFReC promotes true internationalization through various efforts such as international public advertisements. Talented young researchers are recruited, both in and outside of Japan and these researchers are supported in the advance of their research. The center is committed to becoming the world-leading immunology research center and to the realization of innovative accomplishments in immunology.

Director, WPI Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University
Shizuo Akira


An attractive international research center

IFReC has concluded Academic Cooperation Agreements with domestic and foreign satellite institutes and related organizations to expand our research activity. We are dedicated to the development of an attractive international research center with an excellent environment and support system that can draw front-line research scientists from around the world. Through the realization of this attractive international research center, we are aiming for novel strategies for the development of vaccines for infectious diseases, original concepts for immunity-based therapies for various infectious diseases and cancer, and methods for treating autoimmune diseases.

The WPI program has set a target for a ratio of foreign researchers of at least 30%. At IFReC, researchers are recruited by international public advertisements, and an English-speaking environment has been created throughout the center, including the administrative office.

Our bilingual staff (English, French, etc) ensures strong support for researchers from abroad in order to make it possible for them to dedicate themselves to their research without concerns in their daily life and to avoid problems with clerical or administrative business. The foreign researchers' community is also quite active, exchanging information and conducting various events.

IFReC offers researchers from overseas:

  • Sufficient research space and facilities and recruitment of lab staff
  • Financial support for setting up a laboratory
  • Support for obtaining competitive research funds
  • Support for finding accommodations
  • Support for finding schools for children.(IFReC has connections with a nearby international school
  • Support for arranging the procedures required to come to Japan
  • Information on daily life, such as hospitals, banks, insurance, education for children, etc.