Member, the Japan Academy Professor Emeritus, Neurology and Psychiatry Director Emeritus, Neuroscience Center University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA
I am writing this in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience (herewith referred to as the Foundation). However, when I refer to my relationship with the Foundation, I feel I must go back not only just 30 years but further back to 50 years ago when the Foundation had not even been started yet, although I am fully aware that this is an illogical argument. I left Japan in June of 1960 in order to receive training in clinical neurology as a resident at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. The first chance when I could return to Japan was in 1973, for the 4th International Neurochemistry meeting in Tokyo. During my absence of 13 years, there were the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Shinkansen started to run between Tokyo and Osaka, and Tokyo had developed networks of highways which did not exist when I left in 1960. I remember very well that I was completely lost, when I stood in the middle of streets of Shibuya, which was my “territory” as a university student. It was during that meeting when I first met Mr. Masakane Mizutani, who was the founder of the Mizutani Seikagaku Corpration. I still clearly remember what he told me at that time. “It is about time that you should come back to Japan.” After that first meeting, I had occasions to meet Mr. Mizutani at meetings which I attended from time to time after that first encounter with Mr. Mizutani. Every time he kept telling me that I should return to Japan. This early series of contacts with Mr. Masakane Mizutani were strictly personal. Nevertheless, I feel strongly that these experiences were the first phase of my relationship with the Foundation.
The second phase of my association with the Foundation was more formal. For many external circumstances that were outside of my control, I missed the chance to return to Japan. One reason was that I was working in the United States strictly as an individual without any association with Japanese universities or research institutions. By then I was a full-time medical researcher working on molecular and biochemical aspects of genetic disorders affecting the brain. I was utilizing the then popular “knockout technology” to generate mouse models by inactivating specific genes. Particularly, I was trying to analyze the metabolic relationship between various sphingoglycolipids and the two genetically distinct β-galactosidases, both located in the lysosome. Generating mouse models with each of the enzyme inactivated, either homozygous or heterozygous, and then crossing those genotypes of two different β-galactosidases to generate all types of genotypes, were not only time-consuming but also expensive. My work was well supported by grants from the NIH, but still more research fund would have facilitated the progress. So, in 1998, I applied to the Foundation and received a research grant. Thus, the second phase of my association with the Foundation was as an individual researcher. This helped my work enormously and I reported the results in the 10-year commemorative issue of the Foundation.
(Suzuki, K.: Glycolipid metabolism in the pathophysiology of genetic neurological disorders. In Glycoscience 1992-2002, Integration toward systems glycobiology, in commemoration of the 10 years of Mizutani Foundaiton for Glycoscience, pp. 90-91, 2002.)
The third and final phase of my association with the Foundation is from 2006 as one of the Foundation Directors. In 2003 I took the job of Director of the Institute of Glycotechnology, at Tokai University as my first and the last job in Japan. During the first half of 2000, my life was hectic since I was crossing the Pacific six times a year. I gave up my US permanent residency status in 2008 and returned to Japan permanently without any personal relationship with the United States any longer. One day during my tenure at Tokai University, Mr. Ken Mizutani visited me at my Institute and invited me to serve as one of the Directors of the Foundation. Thus, I am now in the third and final phase of my association with the Foundation.
Looking back I have been associated with the Foundation in three different capacities, first as a personal acquaintance and friend of Mr. Masakane Mizutani, then as an individual grantee of the Foundation, and now as one of the Directors of the Foundation. I feel that the contributions of the Foundation to the progress of glycoscience, both within Japan as well as internationally are enormous. Personaly I am most grateful that I have enjoyed every phase of my relationship with the Foundation. I have reached my 90th year and thus my remaining time is limited, However, I am glad that I can wish the best of everything for the future of the Foundation.
Greetings Ken Mizutani (Chairperson, the Board of Directors)
Message Kunihiko Suzuki (Board of Directors)
Message Tamao Endo (Board of Directors, Chairperson, Selection Committee)
Special Lecture Christina M. Woo
Invited Lecture Yoshihiro Kawaoka
Special Lecture Yasuhiro Kajihara
Invited Lecture Kenji Kadomatsu
Application guidelines for research grant
Grant awardees and titles (2018-2022)
List of Awardees (1993-2022)
Selected abstracts of the research grant projects (2017-2021)
List of the International Exchanges and Glycoscience Meetings
Outline of the Foundation
Past board members
Aim of the Foundation