Vol.15 – 2024 Spring

On the cover! Put the blocks through the holes… This is an experiment showing the technology allowing scientists to build 3D structures of actin, a protein acting as the cell skeleton. When various subcellular-sized shapes (pink) were drawn on a sheet mimicking the cell membrane (blue), actin (green) was self-assembled into pillars with maintaining the […]


The Desire to Explain Nutrition Properly

Dr. Chika Takahashi who talked about her research using the short-lived killifish, introduced me to Dr. Hina Kosakamoto, who works with the fruit fly. As the name of the lab she works in includes the words ‘nutritional biology,’ I went to the interview hoping that I would be able to learn something that might be useful for dieting.


Kobe Bridge and Portopia Bridge

Chuo Ward, Kobe

Kobe’s city center of Sannomiya is connected to the man-made Port Island by two bridges and one undersea tunnel. This photo of the illuminated Kobe Bridge was taken from the Port Island side.


A new model organism for lifespan research

This time, I sat down to talk to Dr. Chika Takahashi in the Laboratory for Molecular Biology of Aging, the same lab as Dr. Uno, who I previously interviewed about his research on lifespan using C. elegans. The theme this time also seems to be related to lifespan but I heard that she is using […]

Vol.14 – 2023 Autumn

On the cover! Rain clouds detected by radar? This is an image of proteins regulating genes in the cell nucleus. In an effort to reveal the behavior of genes in the nucleus of ES cells in two different states, the proteins, which are moving too rapidly to be captured by a camera, are manipulated to […]


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

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

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

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.


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 […]


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.


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

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.

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 […]

Computational Work to See the Structure of DNA

I had an opportunity to casually chat with him the other day about much broader topics including politics, religion and education. But, I wondered how this interview would go…