RIKEN Yokohama Open Campus

October 8, 2011 PRESS RELEASE

photo01 (photo 1)

(photo 2)

The RIKEN Yokohama Institute Open Campus was held on Oct. 8, 2011. There were 1,900 visitors varied from children to retired folks, On Oct. 3, only 5 days before the event, there was an announcement of this year's Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, given to three immunologists, Drs. Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A. Hoffman and Ralph Steinman. There was great excitement that Dr. Steinman, an RCAI Advisory Council member, had received the prize for his discovery of the dendritic cell, but it soon turned to great sorrow after we learned that he had passed away three days previously. RCAI's Hiroshi Kawamoto, together with Shinichiro Fujii, Tsuneyasu Kaisho and Takashi Tanaka prepared posters, leaflets and a model of the dendritic cell to introduce the discoveries of the Nobel laureates: activation of innate immunity and the role of the dendritic cell in adaptive immunity.

Twenty RCAI teams exhibited posters or movies. The highlight of the Open Campus was hands-on learning. Kawamoto and the team members arranged an experiment to isolate CD4+CD8+ T cells from mice (photo1). "For this rather precise experiment, we can only accept 30 people who are high school students or above. Still, I think it offers various experiences in one opportunity; a brief immunology lecture, mouse dissection, sophisticated cell sorting, laboratory atmosphere, communication with researchers... participants can feel what we actually do everyday," said Kawamoto.

Yoshida and his team members prepared stained samples of fetal mice and newborn mice at various developmental stages (photo2). Two elementary school girls had lined up in front of the microscopes before the samples were even ready. "We were waiting for this for a year. When we came last year, they were amazing, so we came back to take photos," they said.

This annual event, originally planned in July, was rescheduled due to the urgent need to save electricity this summer because of the massive East Japan Earthquake. When the summer heat passed by and the government lifted its electricity saving policy on September 9, various events were begun in many places. "RIKEN Yokohama Open Campus ultimately overlapped with a Sports Festival of the local elementary school, but still many people visited us. We have to appreciate that people maintain their interest in our science," a RIKEN staff member commented.