TARA: Life Science Center of Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance

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  • Life Science Center of TARA; The University of Tsukuba; Tennoudai 1-1-1, Tsukuba; Ibaraki-ken, Japan 305-8577; TEL: +81 (0)29-853-6082; FAX: +81 (0)29-853-6074; Email: tara@tara.tsukuba.ac.jp
Establishment of Life Science Center of Tara

Makoto Asashima Establishment of Life Science Center of Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance (LS-TARA Center)

Tsukuba University's Life Science Center of Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance began charting a new course from October 1, 2010 to promote academic research in the field of the life science.

In its previous incarnation under former Tsukuba President Dr. Leona Ezaki, the mission of the Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance (TARA) was to promote the creation of new interdisciplinary fields and international, highly advanced scientific research; explore, develop, and invigorate new and important basic research fields; and contribute the resulting technologies and research results to the society.

From April 2009, “a Next Period Midterm Plan Examination Working Group for TARA Center” began considering a reorganization of TARA Center under the direction of Executive Director, Head of Research and Vice President, Masafumi Akahira. During the center's November 1 and 2, 2010 external evaluation, discussion took place on the importance of making a clear move in the direction of life science research, supported by relevant research fields such as materials science and information science. After further consideration, the University's Education and Research Council officially approved the reorganization of the Life Science Center on March 18, 2010.

major reason for the reorganization was the major worldwide shift in life science from 20th century to 21st century due to scientific developments such as advancements in full-genome sequencing (for both humans and other organisms) and stem-cell research, animal cloning, recombinant DNA techniques, development measurement technologies for epigenomes and omics, molecular imaging, and determination of protein structures and functions. Japan also faces issues such as global warming, a reduction in biodiversity, a dwindling birthrate combined with an aging population, reproductive health, and the mind/heart environment. These are vital issues directly related to life science that the Life Science Center of Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance should address.

By working to invigorate basic biological and life science research and establish a firm foundation for such research, the Life Science Center of Tsukuba Advance Research Alliance will be able to take on new research challenges that actively use results in order to contribute back to society and meet its expectations.

To realize this goal, we have established a new, unique system that encourages free discussion on individual research and cooperation within the center, maintaining the characteristic nature of specific kinds of research while largely removing the barriers seen with the center's previous project-based focus. We are also committed to creating a system where young researchers can carry out original research based on their own ideas as well as foster top-class researchers with an international outlook. The cooperation of all the professors in the University is essential to making these visions a reality.

We also plan to centralize state-of-the-art analysis equipment within the center, creating opportunities for collaborative research with a variety of researchers from both inside and outside the University.

In addition, we plan to strengthen life science research within the center and enhance our capabilities to communicate information internationally. Then we will fan out the new TARA Center activities from our base within the University to Tsukuba Science City and develop a strong international presence.

Our aim is not simply to unify and coordinate the traditional vertical divisions in the life sciences between Medicine, Biology, Agronomy, Pharmacology and Health Sciences. Rather, we plan to fuse these disciplines with Human Arts and Science, Cultural Science, Social Science, and Art and Education in order to carefully consider the relationships between human life and society and living organisms. We hope to develop our center as an leading academic research center in the field of life science internationally. To use a weaving analogy, the new TARA Center—with the cooperation of the Tsukuba University Executive Office and professors, and in coordination with external research institutes and enterprises—will work to spin out its weft (horizontal threads) so that the warp (lengthwise threads) of various disciplines will be weaved into life-science “fabric” that is rich in flexibility and resiliency.

Director of TARA Center, Makoto Asashima