About IFReC

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Uniqueness and Objectives

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology selected the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) as part of the World Premier International Research Center (WPI) Program, which aims to create world-leading visible research centers, and IFReC was established on October 1, 2007 with Shizuo Akira, a leading immunology researcher at its head. From April 2017, the center has entered a new era as an Osaka University International Advanced Research Institute Center and with contracts concluded with two pharmaceutical companies to move forward to enhance basic research in immunology as well as accelerate the return of cutting-edge research outcomes to society.

The human immune system protects us from various pathogens such as microorganisms. In particular, vaccines against virus infection have protected humanity from disease. In recent times, it is recognized that greater understanding and control of the immune system are key to elucidating and treating various diseases such as autoimmune disorders, allergy, cancer and lifestyle diseases.

Japanese researchers are driving modern immunological research. Great advances have been made by Osaka University researchers such as Yuichi Yamamura (former Osaka University president) and Tadamitsu Kishimoto (current PI). Such an illustrious foundation is the basis for IFReC and the pioneering immunology researchers gathered here working toward dynamic development in immunology research through the cultivation of new fields. Interdisciplinary researches between immunology, imaging technologies and bioinformatics enable the visualization of immune reactions in living organisms (in vivo) and provide a basis for clarifying the dynamics of the immune system as a whole using robust predictive models.

IFReC’s world top class research outcomes are produced in cutting-edge facilities and an incomparable international environment. IFReC attracts much international interest as a hub of brain circulation due to papers published in world renowned journals and award of several illustrious international prizes.

Historical Background of the Establishment of the Immunology Frontier Research Center Historical Background of the Establishment of the Immunology Frontier Research Center

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 foreign institutes 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.