Message from the Director

Our mission and challenges

Hiroyuki Nawa
Director, Brain Research Institute, Niigata University

Brain Research Institute (BRI) has its roots in Niigata University Brain Research Laboratory which was founded in 1956 with the efforts of Dr.Mizuho Nakata and his colleagues. Dr. Komei Ueki obtained staffing support from the School of Medicine and it became Brain Research Institute in 1967, the first affiliated research institute of a national university in Japan on the human brain and related fields. Ever since its foundation, the institute has been integrating basic research and clinical practice. Having placed two clinical departments (Neurosurgery and Neurology) as its core, BRI has focused on research concerning human brain disease including neurodegenerative disease. Embracing both basic neuroscience research branches and clinical departments of the University Hospital, BRI enables creating a seamless research environment.

BRI became one of the MEXT's Joint Usage/Research Centers in 2009 and carried out collaborative research projects with a total of 300 research institutes across Japan during the designated period, which resulted in renewing MEXT certification. From April 2016, BRI enhances global partnerships as the collaborative research center for brain diseases utilizing neuropathological resources. The institute is currently striving to partner with renowned institutions in China, Russia, Scandinavia and the United States with regard to joint research, agreements on research collaborations and exchanges so as to increase its international visibility and reputation.

The institute is making its internal generation shift. It has now three new young professors following the mandatory retirement of a professor. BRI will continue to promote the appointment of young faculty, the reorganization of the internal departments and hiring project-based faculty members, all of which will bring new energy to the institute. Furthermore, neuroscience research seems to have broadened and developed considerably in recent years. It is noteworthy that artificial intelligence is now applied to decode neural structure and function of human brain. In the era of Reiwa, more than 60 years have passed since Dr. Nakata and his colleagues opened Niigata University Brain Research Laboratory, the nature of human brain function has now come to be understood. Hence, challenges posed to BRI would be mounting.

While Japan's population is graying, neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are still unsolved and impact the society to a great extent. BRI's responsibility is therefore to tackle brain diseases and bring new treatments and hope to patients and families as soon as possible. In order to maintain its reputation as a leading research institute on the brain, BRI continues to grow and evolve to reflect the changing times. The institute's comprehensive approach includes, but is not limited to, imparting knowledge, boosting globalization, making a generation shift, and reforming the internal structure. Despite the current fiscal pressures that national universities face, BRI is determined to work to full capacity, with a strategic approach to win more grants to enhance the institute's research, to meet its mission. We appreciate your continued support and cooperation.

Related Sites

  • Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences
  • School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Niigata University
  • Niigata University