Message from the Director

Aiming to increase healthy life expectancy by bridging biological scales and temporal dynamics
--Unraveling what it means to be alive--

All organisms, including humans, experience the life stages of birth, growth, reproduction, senescence and finally death. To promote long, healthy lives, we need a clear understanding of what is taking place inside the body from birth to death. In our super-aging society, how an individual can maintain their health during the aging process is a critical issue, but to increase healthy life expectancies, not only do we need to find ways to tackle aging-associated diseases, it is also essential to understand the phenomenon of aging so we can take preventive, diagnostic, and interventional measures before the diseases arise. To do so, we need to understand how normal body functions are maintained and how this healthy balance can be upset. With current scientific knowledge and technologies, however, it remains a challenge to observe the many processes simultaneously unfolding at multiple scales within the body, tissues, and cells of organisms—particularly of humans—for extended lengths of time. There is thus a need for developing new approaches to identify factors involved in the maintenance and breakdown of biological functions by looking beyond organizational scales to grasp the temporal dynamics at work.

RIKEN established the Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) in 2018, through the merger of the Center for Developmental Biology, the Center for Life Science Technologies, and the Quantitative Biology Center. Researchers at the BDR strive to elucidate the biological functions that unfold within the body during an organism’s lifespan, by grasping lifecycle progression from birth to death as a dynamic process involving the establishment, maintenance and breakdown of a balanced interlinked system of molecules, cells, and organs. We also endeavor to develop technologies to visualize the processes occurring within a body by building and improving upon the state-of-the-art imaging technologies, large-scale data integration and analytical tools accrued by the three centers. By gaining an understanding of what healthy and normal states are in humans, and elucidating the mechanisms regulating longevity to unravel the processes involved in being alive, the RIKEN BDR is committed to contributing to the extension of healthy life expectancies.

Director Eisuke Nishida