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Grade 11 biologists visit RIKEN Yokohama

Grade 11 biologist recently were offered the opportunity to get a first hand impression of what research looks like in the real world. Standard and higher level IB Biology students were invited by the Yokohama Campus of RIKEN, which is Japan's largest comprehensive research institution.

RIKEN is renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines. It was founded in 1917 as a private research foundation in Tokyo and it has grown rapidly in size and scope, today encompassing a network of world-class research centers and institutes across Japan.

The Yokohama Branch conducts research in sustainable resources, integrative medical sciences, life science technologies, drug discovery, medical technology, and structural biology. It is also the site of nuclear magnetic resonance facilities. Saint Maur International School students were introduced to two of the major undertakings of the Yokohama Branch, the DNA sequencing (FANTOM project), and the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) facilities.

Dr Jay Shin, a unit leader at RIKEN gave a talk on the nature of research and explained to our students some of the research that his groups is currently undertaking After a stimulating Q&A, Dr Shin proceeded to give us a tour of the DNA sequencing labs.

Dr Shin explaining the nature of scientific research

After that, we moved to another wing of the main building and we were shown the impressive NMR facilities. NMR spectroscopy is a research technique that uses the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei in order to investigate the physical and chemical properties of atoms, as well as larger molecules in which they are contained (such as protein structure for example).

We would like to thank RIKEN for giving us the opportunity to visit their facilities and we look forward to going there again.


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