History and Mission of IMCR
Our institute was started as the Endocrine Research Facility of Medicine, which was founded in 1951 as an adjunct facility of the Medical Department of Gunma University. At that time, because of insufficient intake of seaweed that caused iodine deficiency, there were many in inland Gunma who suffered from thyroid disease. In 1963, with support from the Science Council of Japan and the Japan Endocrine Society, the Institute of Endocrinology was established as a facility that was directly attached to Gunma University. The institute produced pioneering works such as elucidation of the mechanism of thyroid hormone synthesis, discovery of a new hormone—motilin—and generation of antibodies against various hormones. With the progress in molecular and cellular biology, the basic mechanisms of protein sorting, membrane trafficking, and signal transduction were soon revealed, which significantly changed the concept of endocrinology. Furthermore, genetically modified mice that were developed in the 90’s enabled us to directly investigate the in vivo function of specific gene products and their relationship with diseases. In consideration of all these changes, the Institute of Endocrinology was reorganized in 1994 to the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Regulation (IMCR). Since then, our interest has gradually shifted from simple endocrine diseases to more complex and common diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. Neuronal regulation of energy intake and expenditure and immunological regulation of chronic inflammation have also become our topics of interest as they are involved in metabolic syndromes. We study these diseases via genetically modified mice, nematodes, and yeasts using advanced techniques such as metabolic monitoring, live-cell imaging, epigenetics, and genome editing etc. As such, our mission is to be a unique basic research institute in the field of endocrinology and metabolism in Japan. Our institute has continuously made a mark as a center for the 21st Century Center of Excellence (COE) program from 2002 to 2006, a center for Global COE program in collaboration with Akita University from 2007 to 2011, and as the Joint Usage/Research Center for Endocrine/Metabolism since 2010. Currently, IMCR has been involved in many collaborations to provide domestic and international researchers with unique resources and techniques. IMCR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and further expanded in 2014 on association with the Gunma University Initiative for Advanced Research. We make continuous efforts to produce high-quality research, despite limited funding, in order to serve the scientific community and general society.