Greetings from the Program Supervisor

Bio-resources (strains, populations, tissues, cells, genes of animals, plants and microorganisms as research materials) are essential infrastructures for life sciences. It is vital that researchers share the various bio-resources necessary for pursuing research and development. This is because these resources, produced with years of painstaking labor, form the foundations for future research. It is also necessary for scientific communities to use a common set of bio-resources to permit their research results to be effectively compared. The development of outstanding collections of bio-resources is therefore essential to give this country an internationally competitive edge in life sciences.

Based on the Japanese Government’s Science and Technology Basic Plans, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) implemented the National BioResource Project (NBRP) in FY2002 to construct a framework for the systematic collection, preservation, and distribution of bio-resources, with a special focus on those that require strategic development by the national government. The NBRP is revised every five years, with the fourth phase having started in FY2017. The current project consists of the cores of 30 categories of bio-resources and the centers for information on these resources. The bio-resource framework has been enhanced by increasing the importance of value-added genomic resources and developing preservation technologies. Several of our bio-resource centers have been acknowledged as meeting the highest global standards.

Based on the Plan for Promotion of Medical Research and Development of the Healthcare Policy approved by the Cabinet in 2014, the operation of the NBRP was transferred in FY2015 to the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED). Currently, the Program Supervisor (PS) and the Program Officer (PO), in consultation with the Promotion Committee, are responsible promoting the activities of the NBRP, taking into consideration the current trends in life sciences.

Finally, I would like to emphasize a lesson we learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake: that the bio-resources in the NBRP cannot be restored once they are lost. Since this disaster struck, we have developed a backup system that includes long-term cryopreservation of bioresources. Currently, the spread of COVID-19 around the world puts the maintenance and provision of bioresources at risk due to restricted staff attendance. To solve this problem, we are promoting labor-saving in bioresource maintenance and the adoption of remote monitoring systems. We will try to preserve the stable maintenance and provision of bioresources even in the face of crises such as the current one. Your cooperation and support for this project will be highly appreciated.

April 2020

Yuji Kohara , Ph.D
Program Supervisor, NBRP
Director, Database Center for Life Science
Research Organization of Information and Systems
Inter Inter-University Research Institute Corporation