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08 Jan 2019
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Institute for Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi) established within KUIAS (30 October 2018)

On 30 October 2018, Kyoto University established a new research body, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi), within its Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS), with funding from the science ministry MEXT provided under its FY2018 World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) program.

ASHBi, selected for the ten-year funding program on 9 October under the originally-proposed name of the "Institute for Advanced Synthesis of Human Biology", is dedicated to pioneering a new field of inquiry called synthetic human biology, which integrates the life, mathematical, and social sciences with the goal of elucidating the organizing principles of the human body as well as pathogenesis involving their disruption. Through these efforts, the institute hopes to lay a foundation for future healthy and sustained progress of human society.

ASHBi is the second WPI center for Kyoto University, following the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), founded 2007.

About the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI)

Since its 2007 launch, MEXT's WPI program has been supporting innovative initiatives by Japanese universities to build world-class research institutes, attracting world-leading scientists, generating breakthrough discoveries, and producing exceptional human capital.

In providing priority assistance to institutions with such efforts, the program also encourages organizational improvements, including systemic reforms, so as to ensure that their new centers will be "globally visible", and recognized by frontline researchers from across the globe for their high research standards and outstanding facilities.

ASHBi overview

Name

Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi)

Director

Mitinori Saitou MD PhD

Concept

Understanding the organizing principles of the human body is one of the ultimate goals of the life sciences. It is also directly tied to the future of medicine and welfare; knowledge of the human as an organism is vitally important in light of the fact that findings from studying model animals often prove inapplicable to humans, such as in medicine, due to species differences.

Based on this understanding, ASHBi aims to pioneer "synthetic human biology", a new field of study focused on investigating both the principles that organize the human body and the pathogenesis associated with the disruption of these principles, using a unique interdisciplinary methodology integrating the life, mathematical, and social sciences. Specifically, ASHBi's scientists will study humans, macaque monkeys, and other primates based on multidisciplinary research in core areas of human biology, with the goals of:

  1. Elucidating the principles behind species differences through mathematical analyses of multi-level genomic data;
  2. Creating animal models for intractable diseases through genetic modification of crab-eating macaques;
  3. Establishing systems for reconstituting key human cells and tissues; and
  4. Developing a new set of life ethics and philosophy to guide human biology research.

Synthetic human biology seeks to contribute to the healthy and steady progress of human society by elucidating the fundamental nature of humans, and laying foundations for studying the pathogenesis of intractable diseases and for developing treatments for these conditions.

Related documents (PDF, in Japanese)