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The 3rd International Symposium on Transformative Bio-Molecules (ISTbM-3)

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On May 25-26th 2015, Nagoya University's Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) held the 3rd International Symposium on Transformative Bio-Molecules (ISTbM-3) at the Toyoda Auditorium in Nagoya University. Following the success of the 2nd international symposium organized last year in May, a total of twelve world leading scientists in animal/plant biology, computational science and synthetic chemistry, which are the main research fields at ITbM, delivered lectures on their recent research outcomes involving "molecules" as the key in each of their cutting-edge research.

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Opening remarks were delivered by Nagoya University's Vice-Director Hideyo Kunieda and ITbM's partner institute, Queen's University's Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss from Canada, followed by ITbM's Center Director Kenichiro Itami's presentation marking the recent advances in ITbM's interdisciplinary research.

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Professor Yoshinori Fujiyoshi of Nagoya University delivered the first lecture, where he described his challenges to find how experiences during human development affect cognitive ability in adults, by analyzing the structure and functions of membrane proteins. On the second day of the symposium, Professor Makoto Fujita of the University of Tokyo showed his elegant work on the development of a new protocol that enables X-ray single crystal diffraction analysis without crystallization of the sample. Professor Gregory A. Voth of the University of Chicago (USA) talked about his sophisticated work on how multiscale molecular simulations can reveal the complex molecular-scale behavior of biomolecular systems.

In the afternoon session, Professor Wolf Frommer of the Carnegie Institute of Science (USA) presented his extensive research on the utilization of fluorescent biosensors to study transport and signaling pathways in plants. Professor Christopher J. Chang of the University of California, Berkeley (USA), described his latest results in the development of new molecular imaging approaches to identify and study the chemistry that controls the brain's activity. In the final talk of the symposium, Professor Sean Cutler of the University of California, Riverside (USA) spoke about his research to understand the molecular mechanism in plants to develop molecules that can manipulate crop water use and drought tolerance.

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Lectures by Nagoya University Professors Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi, Hiroshi Abe and Florence Tama illustrated recent research outcomes on their expertise in plant biology, chemical biology and computational chemistry, respectively.

From ITbM, Vice-Director Shigehiro Yamaguchi, and Professors Takashi Yoshimura and Takashi Ooi talked about their research on functional molecules, animal physiology, and synthetic chemistry, respectively, displaying the progress of ITbM's interdisciplinary research between chemistry and biology.

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In addition, the 11th Hirata Award and the 1st Tsuneko & Reiji Okazaki Award were held in conjunction with the symposium on May 25. The Hirata Award was established this year by ITbM as a new version of the Hirata Memorial Lecture (2004-2013) in memory of the organic chemist, Professor Yoshimasa Hirata of Nagoya University, and is awarded each year to a young leading scientist in the field of organic chemistry. This year, Professor Ashraf Brik of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (Israel) received this award by Professor Daisuke Uemura of Kanagawa University, who is also an emeritus professor of Nagoya University. Following the Hirata Award ceremony, Professor Brik delivered his Award Lecture titled "The Ubiquitin signal: Where chemistry makes a difference".

The Tsuneko & Reiji Okazaki Award was also established by ITbM this year in honor of Professors Okazaki of Nagoya University, who contributed to the advancement of molecular biology with their groundbreaking work on the discovery of the Okazaki fragment in DNA. The Okazaki Award is offered to an early career scientist who has made significant contributions to the field of biology through innovative and original approaches. Professor Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (USA) was selected as the 1st Okazaki Award winner and presented his talk on "Development and Applications of CRISSPR-Cas9 for Genome Editing" after the Okazaki Award ceremony by Professor Tsuneko Okazaki, an emeritus professor of Nagoya University. In Professor Okazaki's speech during the award ceremony, she spoke about the couple's acquaintance and memories with Professor Yoshimasa Hirata, and expressed her appreciation for the establishment of the Okazaki Award alongside the Hirata Award. Both awards are offered to recognize young scientists' extraordinary efforts and accomplishments in chemistry or biology, as well as to encourage his or her future success in their research.

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Around 450 researchers and students from various backgrounds attended the symposium to listen to a variety of lectures in biology, chemistry and computational science. The symposium involved active discussions on research outcomes in a range of interdisciplinary fields including structural biology, chemical biology, live-imaging, synthetic chemistry and genetics. The symposium ended in great success with the closing remarks delivered by ITbM's principal investigator, Professor Cathleen Crudden of Queen's University.

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2015-06-19

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