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Kirin Joins Osaka University and UC Davis to Train the Next Generation of Plant Biotechnologists

The full delegation from Kirin, Osaka University and UC Davis attended the formal signing event on Friday, June 21. David Slipher/UC Davis
Monday, June 24, 2019 (All day)
This story originally appeared on the College of Biological Sciences website.

Educators from Osaka University and the University of California, Davis are proud to announce the launch of a new biotechnology research and training program between Japan and the United States. The approximately $23,000 in initial support comes from Kirin Holdings Company, an international food, beverage and pharmaceutical wellness brand.

Graduate students from both universities will gain access to world-class research facilities and professional training across many areas of plant biotechnology, with an emphasis on human health. By traveling between Osaka University and UC Davis, graduate students and their faculty mentors will share cross-cultural experiences that grow scientific knowledge—and potential new technologies. 

“We are happy to expand our global engagement with the United States,” said Professor Genta Kawahara, vice president of global engagement at Osaka University. “The UC system, especially UC Davis, is Osaka University’s closest and strongest international partner.”

Bridging the Pacific

On Friday, June 21, leadership from Kirin and Osaka University traveled to the UC Davis campus to sign the international agreement.

“The future of biology research will come through international collaboration, mentorship and technology exchange,” said Mark Winey, dean of the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences. “The exchange program, thanks to the generous support of Kirin CEO Yoshinori Isozaki, creates a wonderful opportunity to share, innovate and provide students with an international research experience.”

The College of Biological Sciences has pledged $10,000 to support the new partnership. The College of Engineering will also partner in the endeavor.

“This partnership is an alliance to solve the difficult, multidisciplinary problems that challenge the global community,” said Ricardo H.R. Castro, executive associate dean of research and graduate studies and professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering. “We are happy to partner with the College of Biological Sciences, Osaka University and Kirin, hoping to bring engineering aspects to support the translation of science for novel plant-based therapeutics.”

One goal of the exchange program is to help train the next generation of plant biotechnologists, giving them the perspectives and skills to move seamlessly between countries and cultures to address research problems of global importance.

“Given the complexity of today’s global challenges, partnering with other universities and with industry is critical, particularly as we strive to prepare our students for today’s interconnected and multicultural world,” said Joanna Regulska, UC Davis vice provost of global affairs.

The exchange partnership between Osaka University and UC Davis will explore new research and applications for plant-made pharmacueticals. David Slipher/UC Davis

Promoting global research and multicultural understanding

The program will promote student mobility across borders and provide access to the world-class research experiences and international perspectives needed to solve our planet’s toughest challenges.

“Society is currently facing many global threats to human health and wellbeing,” said Raymond Rodriguez, exchange program chairman and UC Davis professor emeritus of molecular and cellular biology. “Whether it be Ebola or global warming, we need a new kind of mission-oriented, interdisciplinary scientist capable of working in diverse teams to quickly address these threats in safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.”

“Many students (in Japan) know about US culture, but they have not seen it in reality,” said Professor Kazuhito Fujyama, director of the Osaka University International Center for Biotechnology. “Through these kinds of experiences they learn not only scientific, but cultural differences.”

Kirin research scientists will assist both universities in identifying and developing plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) to strengthen the company’s growing pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.

“Supporting new research in academia is a key role for our company,” said Hiroshi Okawa, plant biotechnology project leader with Kirin. “Each university knows about their own industries, so by joining together we can expand our knowledge of and capacity for global business.”

About Osaka University

Officially founded 1931, Osaka University is considered one of Japan’s top public research universities and its academic ties go back to 1724. Osaka University is located in the Kansai region of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Researchers from Osaka University and UC Davis have collaborated on more than 185 publications since 2013.

About Kirin Holdings Company

With a focus on lifestyle and health, Kirin aims to become a global leader in food, beverages and pharmaceuticals. Support for the new exchange program reinforces Kirin’s KV2027 plan, an aspirational vision for the company’s future.  Kirin is a Global Fortune 500 company.