The machinery of life on the earth has been made of proteins, which are expressed from the corresponding genes in genome, and the complicated molecular activities are provided by huge number of interactions among those proteins. In 1958, Institute for Protein Research (IPR) was founded by members in Faculty of Science and Medical school of Osaka University, covering different fields of sciences, such as chemistry, physics, biology and medicine. Since then, protein research in IPR has made a remarkable progress by elucidating structures and functions of proteins, and by understanding their biological roles from the molecular level to the cellular and the higher levels. Through wide and strong supports from the community, IPR has expanded over time after more than 55 years. Now, it has four divisions (16 labs) with an attached center, Research Center for State-of-the-Art Functional Protein Analysis (7 labs), which develops its original techniques and applies them to reveal protein structures and functions.
IPR had worked as an inter-university joint-use facility attached to Osaka University since its foundation. In April 2010, IPR was qualified as one of the Joint Usage/Research Centers in Japan by MEXT, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan. In particular, IPR offers the usages of its own synchrotron beam line at SPring-8 and of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers with ultra-high sensitivities, to domestic and foreign protein researchers. In addition, IPR has constructed protein structural database (PDB: Protein Data Bank) as PDBj (PDB Japan), one of the four members of the wwPDB (worldwide PDB), by annotating the deposited data from structural biologists in Asian and Oceania region and by providing several original services and derived databases. PDBj-BMRB also constructs NMR experimental database, collaborating with BMRB (BioMagResBank) in U.S.A. IPR has also organized many international collaborative researches with foreign protein scientists.
Professors and staffs in IPR (about 40 members) work hard for their own researches, as well as for educational activities to undergraduate students at Faculty of Science and that of Medicine, and Ph. D. students at Graduate school of Science, Medicine, and Frontier Biosciences. From those Faculties and Graduate schools, nearly 100 students always study at laboratories in IPR, and about 70 postdoctoral fellows make their own original investigations with various national and international research projects. Those students and postdocs gather from many different places in the world, and global human interactions are common in IPR.
Paradigm of protein research has been rapidly changed from previous analysis of individual protein molecules to understanding of the protein complex that expresses biological activities and to revealing the biological information from protein interactions, still based on the structures and functions of individual proteins. Namely, protein structural analysis is not a goal as the previous structural biology, but it is a starting point for a novel scientific field, Structural Life Science, where life science is investigated at multi-scale based on the protein network. IPR is going forward to this Structural Life Science as the basic science, promoting the principle of Osaka University, “To discover the true essence of things”. In addition, IPR is going to cooperate with the public and the industries through activities at Open Space Laboratory for Advanced Protein Science where an industry researcher is invited as a guest professor, and support program for industries with database construction and its release to the public. All of those activities will appear on our web page (http://www.protein.osaka-u.ac.jp).