Monday, August 3, 2015


Singapore—The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and RIKEN, Japan's largest comprehensive research institute in the natural sciences, have marked a 10-year milestone of research partnership.
A*STAR and RIKEN inked their first MOU September 2005 to encourage more opportunities for scientific exchange between Singapore and Japan. The MOU has since been renewed three times. For a timeline of milestones, refer to Annex A.
RIKEN established its first overseas international liaison office in 2006, attesting to its long-term commitment to the partnership with Singapore. The partnership has catalysed joint projects in fields ranging from the biomedical sciences to the physical sciences and engineering domains (enclosed within and in Annex B). This partnership has also offered opportunities to broaden scientific exchange through RIKEN’s prestigious summer programmes in brain science and immunology.
The most recent renewal of the MOU will further build on the existing partnership to include mutual areas of interest in material science. This will continue to encourage sharing of ideas, co-advancing scientific capabilities, broadening research networks, and developing research talent.
Collaborative projects between A*STAR and RIKEN
·         Biomaterials and hydrogels: Dr Loh Xian Jun from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and Prof Yoshihiro Ito from RIKEN have successfully pioneered a new method of cell detachment using a novel temperature-sensitive biomaterial. This method has many applications in basic research, allowing scientists to better study adult human stem cells more efficiently. Currently, the process requires complicated chemical synthesis techniques whereas the new approach uses a “Drop-and-Dry” coating method. This method allows non-chemists to prepare their own temperature responsive cell culture surface for non-enzymatic detachment. This method will simplify experiments and facilitate the understanding of the cell differentiation process..
·         Identification of novel immune cell subset: Dr Florent Ginhoux from A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) is collaborating with Dr Ichiro Taniuchi from the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences, to characterize novel lymphoid populations in the epidermis. Tapping on IMS’s strength in generating gene-manipulated mice and on SIgN’s flow cytometry and bioinformatics analyses of small cell populations, the collaboration identified a novel lymphoid cell subset in the epidermis in mice and humans. This finding, which will soon be published in Nature Scientific Reports, has provided new insights into the skin’s immune system and will deepen our understanding of the physiological and pathological roles of these new cell types during immune responses at the interface between our body and the environment.
Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman A*STAR, said: “I am pleased that A*STAR’s and RIKEN’s longstanding partnership has catalysed many opportunities for collaboration in R&D between Singapore and Japan. We will continue to build on the complementary research capabilities of both countries through joint projects and scientific exchange. I look forward to many more fruitful years of collaboration.”
Dr Hiroshi Matsumoto, President of RIKEN, said: “RIKEN’s collaborations with Singapore through A*STAR have been extremely meaningful to us. A major mission of science today is to ensure the continued survival of humanity, and this mission cannot be accomplished without international cooperation. I strongly hope that our partnership will continue to develop, leading to important research breakthroughs that will benefit all of humanity.”
ii)            Safer X-Rays – Improving T-Rays for Potential Applications in Diagnostics and Security
Dr Gong Yandong
Scientist, Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R)
Dr Hiroaki Minamide
Team Leader, Tera-Photonics Research Team, RIKEN Center for Advanced Photonics
Expertise in Terahertz polarization, focus of collaboration is on the polarization sub-system and algorithmsStrength lies in basic terahertz frequency domain spectroscopy (THz-FDS) system
Terahertz (THz) is an underexplored band of light located between microwave and infrared frequency in the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. THz radiation, also known as T-rays, produces images faster than X-rays and has a lower photon energy, making it safer and more efficient for use in various applications, such as in the detection of cancerous tumours for non-invasive, high-sensitivity medical diagnostics, or the detection of concealed objects during security screening.
However, most conventional THz systems can only provide basic parameters for the user. In this project with RIKEN, the researchers demonstrated the world-first polarimetric THz-FDS system. The ability to provide polarization information makes the THz system more powerful in detection and sensing. Out of this collaboration, the team also developed a new device on the market – the achromatic Terahertz waveplate. This device can be adapted for use in conventional THz systems, allowing THz polarization to be manipulated for greater control and more precise results. The THz polarization technology has been licensed to two local SMEs in the imaging and photonics industry.

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