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Summary of 5 National Institutes

Display Page for Printing Updated: Updated June 13, 2018

​ ​​ ​The National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) is an integrated scientific research institute that was established in 2004, when the following five research institutes were merged: the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ; Mitaka, Tokyo), the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS; Toki, Gifu), the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB; Okazaki, Aichi), the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS; Okazaki, Aichi), and the Institute for Molecular Science (IMS; Okazaki, Aichi). Its founding was prompted by the passing of a new law on the establishment of universities as independent administrative entities. NINS is not a research institute and experimental research facility that is monopolized by a single organization. Rather, it is open to researchers from all over the world, in accordance with its core principle: to work together to improve and enhance the scientific knowledge and capability of humankind. NINS is a facility that can be used collaboratively by multiple researchers, both from Japan and the rest of the world, for the purpose of scientific and technological research and development. Put simply, it is an inter-university research institute corporation, shared between national and international universities.

National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)

National Astronomical Observatory of Japan of Japan picture 1 National Astronomical Observatory of Japan of Japan 2

Ultra-high resolution ALMA image of the dust disk around Taurus HL. (© ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO))

​ ​Astronomy is one of the oldest and yet most active science. This means that human beings possess the fundamental desire to seek our origin and the reason for our existence through an understanding of the Universe. NAOJ utilizes our full strength to play a key role in establishing a new paradigm for understanding the Universe, the Earth, and life as a whole. For this purpose, NAOJ observe various objects, fundamental theoretically laws behind the observed phenomena. NAOJ also develop new technology to support these activities.

National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS)

Photo 1 of the National Institute for Fusion Science Photo 2 of the National Institute for Fusion Science

The Large Helical Device (LHD) as seen from above. The LHD is 13.5M in diameter and 9.1M high. Many plasma heating systems and plasma measurement devices are attatched to the LHD.

One of the world's top priorities is undoubtedly to obtain an energy source that is eco-friendly and inexhaustible. If we can achieve on the Earth the nuclear fusion that has powered the sun and the stars, human beings will gain that never-ending energy. Deuterium and tritium are currently expected to be the most favorable fuels for fusion. Deuterium and the lithium that is necessary for tritium production are found in seawater. Aiming at the early achievement of fusion energy, the NIFS is advancing its research activities in fusion plasma and other targets in fields of experimental research using the Large Helical Device (LHD), theory and simulation, and fusion engineering. NIFS is also playing an active role in mutual cooperation with universities and research organizations in Japan and abroad, and is producing excellent researchers.

National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB)

Photo 1 of National Institute for Basic BiologyPhoto 2 of National Institute for Basic Biology

National Bio-Resource Project (Medaka fish).
NIBB provide various strains and mutants to all of researchers not only Japan but also overseas.

Among the innumerable celestial bodies in our universe, the earth appears unique in that it is filled with variety of organisms. Over the course of 4 billion years of evolution, animals and plants have acquired diverse forms as well as astonishing abilities, and continue to survive on this remarkable planet through the propagation of offspring. NIBB promotes research to find the basic principles common to all creatures, and the mechanisms that enable diversity and allow life to adapt to changing environments.

​ ​National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS)

Photo 1 of National Institute for Physiological SciencesPhoto 2 of National Institute for Physiological Sciences

Human brain image reconstructed using functional Magnetic Resonance Image (fMRI). Different colors are used for each brain functions.

The mission of NIPS is to conduct research at the forefront of physiological science by examining the living body at various levels of organization, leading to a holistic understanding of the functional mechanisms of the human body. Recent progress in life sciences has been truly remarkable, and there have been notably marked developments in molecular biology and genetic engineering. Non-invasive imaging techniques have also become very useful for clarifying the physiological functions of the human body. Recently, NIPS has been focusing on higher brain functions as one of the most important research targets, and it is now considered to be one of the best brain research institutes not only in Japan but also in the world. With the key phrase "Elucidation of the Functioning of the Human Body", NIPS is performing cutting-edge research in multiple fields, involving not only physiology but also biochemistry, molecular biology, morphology, cognitive science, information science, and medical engineering. NIPS offers its facilities and expert staff to domestic and foreign scientists for collaborative studies.

Institute for Molecular Science (IMS)

Photo 1 of Institute for Molecular SciencePhoto 2 of Institute for Molecular Science

Column-shaped polymer material with new functions.

Molecular science is a field of science that aims at elucidating the essentials of intermolecular interactions and chemical reactions in which moleculars change their shapes from both theoretical and experimental standpoints. IMS continues to provide opportunities of joint researches, in which the most advanced technology and instruments are accessible, for the researchers all of the world. To update our system continuously, IMS have established the Research Center of Integrative Molecular Systems and the Center for Mesoscopic Sciences, in addition to the four core departments of Theoretical and Computational, Photo, Materials, Life and Coordination-Complex Molecular Sciences. Collaborating with the 72 national university corporations all over Japan, we organize the Inter-University Nework for Common Utilization of Research Equipments. I the network, researchers in universities, public research institutes and private enterprises can share the research equipment in participating institutions at reasonable cost.