BDR Times is RIKEN BDR’s online news site for people who are interested in science. It features recent progress in BDR’s research, interviews of BDR researchers, and overview of outreach events.


High-end 300kV cryo-electron microscope

Central NMR Complex, Yokohama Campus

The three cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EMs) housed in the Central NMR Complex, aligned in a row. On the far right with its enclosure doors open is the latest, state-of-the-art cryo-EM that is equipped with an electron emission gun with an acceleration voltage of up to 300kV.

Vol.13 – Summer 2023

Vol.13 – Summer 2023

On the cover! A six-winged pinwheel? This is the transcription termination factor Rho. It is a ring-shaped structure consisting of a hexamer that forms a tunnel in the center for the RNA (magenta) to pass through. When Rho attaches to the RNA polymerase (white and gray) during transcription, it uses this tunnel to pull the […]

A physicist contemplating the origins of living things

A physicist contemplating the origins of living things

Dr. Yousuke Ohno, who I previously interviewed about MDGRAPE, had told me that he had been intrigued by a recent Japanese press release suggesting that amino acids could be generated even without nitrogen, so I went straight to the horse’s mouth and talked to Dr. Tomonori Fukuchi who was involved in that study. I was […]

View from the eighth floor of the Integrated Innovation Building

View from the eighth floor of the Integrated Innovation Building

Kobe Campus

The sunrise over Osaka Bay viewed from the east side of the top floor of the RIKEN Integrated Innovation Building (IIB), which is located on Port Island, an artificial island. Silhouettes of the gantry cranes along the wharf emerging in the morning sun.


Research Highlights

Research highlights articles and press releases between November 2022 to April 2023

Taking on the world with a unique computer

Taking on the world with a unique computer

This time we have Dr. Yousuke Ohno, who works on the design of MDGRAPE, a computer specialized for running molecular dynamics simulations. If you really think about it, the development of MDGRAPE has been going on since before 1990, which was around the time when Windows 3.1 was finally released. Looking back now, isn’t it […]

a cover picture of BDR Times vol 12

Vol.12 – Winter 2023

A blue sun?
This is an aggregate of neural stem cells and the outflow of these cells from the aggregate. At high densities, neural stem cells align their elongated shapes and radially crawl out of the aggregate. Their weak clockwise cell motility becomes accentuated at the collective migration level, resulting in the appearance of a spiral formation that is visible to the naked eye.


RIKEN Kids Yokohama

Yokohama Campus

A childcare facility situated on RIKEN premises specifically for use by RIKEN employees. Both research and administrative staff are eligible to use the childcare services.


Research Highlights

How to regulate protein intake, cells that sense mechanical forces, the possibility of regenerative medicine for the heart, and hormones make fathers.—Research highlights articles and press releases between July and October 2022.


Vol.11 – Summer 2022

A maze and a cave?
This is a heart of a newborn opossum (red). Opossums are marsupials, like kangaroos. Their hearts retain the ability to regenerate for at least two weeks after birth, which is the longest reported to date in mammals. The green cells are those currently proliferating.

photo of lab members

Laboratory for Neuroepitranscriptomics

The Laboratory for Neuroepitranscriptomics was launched in April 2021 and is headed by Team Leader Dan Ohtan Wang. Originally from China, Dr. Wang first came to Japan as a high school student on a short-term exchange program, and then later returned to attend the Tokyo Institute of Technology for her undergraduate and …


Research Highlights

Robotic AI, cell death in darkness, molecular pumps and receptors, microbiota and Palaeospondylus. Research highlights articles and press releases between March 2022 to June 2022

A path in Osaka Campus

A path lined with azaleas

Osaka Campus

The Quantitative Biology Buildings consist of two buildings, A and B, between which there is a greenery-filled courtyard. The path winding through the courtyard is adorned with hedges of azaleas.

The Marvels of Shapes Revealed by Mathematics

The Marvels of Shapes Revealed by Mathematics

The person who I interviewed this time is Dr. Daisuke Ohtsuka, who works in the Laboratory for Developmental Morphogeometry, one laboratory at the BDR that is headed by a team leader with a non-biology background. I thought our conversation might include a lot of references to numbers and mathematical formulas, but as Dr. Ohtsuka himself […]


Laboratory for Nutritional Biology

Team Leader Fumiaki Obata joined RIKEN BDR in April 2021 from his former post at The University of Tokyo to lead the new Laboratory for Nutritional Biology. He first began working with fruit flies,

View from the seventh floor of the Developmental Biology Building

View from the seventh floor of the Developmental Biology Building

The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge connects the Honshu mainland (right) to Awaji Island (left) and is located across the sea approximately 18 km away from the Kobe Campus. At 3,911 meters long, it is the second longest suspension bridge in the world. The cape in the foreground extending from the right is where the ancient port of Kobe, Owada no tomari, is said to have been located.


Research Highlights

Research highlights articles and press releases between November 2021 to February 2022.

Vol.10 – Spring 2022

Vol.10 – Spring 2022

On the cover: A growing baby corn? This is an electron microscope image of an olfactory sensillum found on the head of a fruit fly. Nanometer-sized (one-millionth of a millimeter) odorant molecules can pass through tiny pores (nanopores) on the sensillum surface to stimulate the nerves inside for detecting odors. In contrast, micrometer-sized (one-thousandth of […]


Approaching the Origin of Life with Structural Biology

It has been a while since I last talked to a structural biology researcher. I know that they use instruments like nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers to determine the structure of proteins, but I was very excited to be able to hear the story of what happens after the structure is determined as it sounded […]

Molecular structure of proteins

Vol. 09 – Winter 2022

Light blue hammock?
This is a graphic model of the three-dimensional structure of the DOCK-ELMO-Rac protein complex. DOCK (cyan) is involved in cell movement and maturation. The biological activities in the body are maintained by the binding and unbinding of proteins to other proteins.

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Neural Organogenesis Research Program, RIKEN BDR-Otsuka Pharmaceutical Collaboration Center

Launched in 2016, the RIKEN BDR-Otsuka Pharmaceutical Collaboration Center aspires to conceive novel and original results through collaborative research investigating disease mechanisms based on developmental, regenerative and systems biology approaches. In June 2020, the Neural Organogenesis Research Program headed by Hideya Sakaguchi was established to accelerate research specifically in areas of neurobiology and the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

Follow the heart

Follow the heart

This time, we have Dr. Akane Sakaguchi from the Kimura Lab. I was surprised to learn that she makes decisions based on her intuition, which was different from what I expected judging from her neat appearance. I guess we could call her an intuitive person. She is doing research on the heart, and the way […]


Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope

RIKEN–Hiroshima University Collaboration Research Facility

The focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) is a system which combines focused ion beams for processing or milling the surface of a sample and a scanning electron microscope for observing the surface of a material.


Research Highlights

Research highlights articles and press releases between July 2021 to October 2021.