Greeting from Shizuo Akira
(Director of IFReC)

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Shizuo Akira, director of IFReC, the Osaka University Immunology Frontier Research Center. First, let me express my deepest condolences and sympathy to the people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Today, we are truly honored to have the presence of so many distinguished guests at the opening ceremony of our new IFReC building. On behalf of the IFReC, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today.

IFReC was founded at Osaka University on the 1st of October, 2007, under the WPI program set-up by the Japanese Government. The goal of this program was to establish a world-renowned, international immunology research center that integrates the disciplines of immunology, imaging and informatics. When IFReC was first founded it was simply a concept, lacking any physical foundation, we were a group of laboratories scattered throughout the University and other institutions. But in order to accomplish the goals of the program, a building where researchers could work under the same roof was essential.

Two years ago the first building, the Integrated Life Science Building, was completed, shortly followed by the IFReC animal resource center. The vision of IFReC was becoming a reality with eleven IFReC laboratories able to set-up in the same building. Particularly, It is to be noted that we have provided three foreign PIs with their own laboratories in this building.

However, the space was still not enough. Fortunately construction of a new 9-story building using the government supplementary budget had been approved by the Diet. Before I continue, I would like to take this occasion, on behalf of IFReC, to extend my profound gratitude and thanks to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for the great efforts they have undertaken to secure the finances from what was an extremely tight budget.

This new, second IFReC research building was completed this March, allowing 9 more laboratories to join our center. The construction of these two new buildings has now allowed two thirds of IFReC researchers to assemble together. To aid the efforts of our researchers, this new building is equipped with a radio-isotope experimental station and a core instrumentation facility which includes a next generation DNA sequencer, an electron microscope and high-resolution confocal and multi-photon microscopes; An 11.7 Tesla MRI will also be installed at a later date.

The building was also designed to include several conference rooms as well as areas to enable the mutual interaction between the different groups, and an open space to allow for the expansion of some laboratories in the near future. The completion of this new IFReC research building together with the first Integrated Life Science building symbolizes the final element in the creation of the IFReC, which was indeed for many a long awaited moment. I think we have now finally established the WPI-IFReC in both name and reality.

Of course, the completion of the center and the accumulation of highly skilled personnel are essential, but this is only the starting point. From here, we can now begin to collaborate with each other, and focus on the difficult and challenging, but exciting, task of merging the immunology, imaging and informatics disciplines together.

Recently, the long-awaited laboratories for imaging have been set up. We started to visualize dynamics of immune cells under the direction of several imaging groups. The computer room has been also set up, and bioinformatics group is now analyzing the data obtained by the immunology groups.

Through the creation of a globally visible research center, we would like to nurture young researchers and provide them with an education in immunology, imaging and informatics. We will strive to make even greater efforts in the future so that IFReC be recognized as the top immunology research center.

Thank you.