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Japan's Riken ASI Seeks Chief Scientist for New Epigenetics Lab

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Japan's Riken Advanced Science Institute is seeking to hire a chief scientist to oversee a new laboratory to focus on research in epigenetics and gene function.

Shunsuke Ishii, head of the selection committee charged with identifying a candidate for the position, told GenomeWeb Daily News today that the establishment of the new laboratory reflects the growing importance of epigenetics as not only an area of basic science, but as a key for interdisciplinary science capable of connecting biology, chemistry, and other applied fields.

"We are expecting [that a] new lab in the field of epigenetics can well collaborate with" Riken ASI's 10 biological labs, whose areas of study include chromosomes, nuclear architecture, transcription, membrane, lipid, chemical biology, and theoretical biology, said Ishii, chief scientist for the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Riken Tsukuba Institute.

ASI — among the institutes and centers that comprise the Riken research organization — has placed advertisements in Nature and Science soliciting applications from interested candidates who possess "appropriate research experience supported by a distinguished research record and the ability to play a pivotal role in the research area."

"The successful candidate will be responsible for the laboratory's overall management and research strategy, directing research projects and contributing to more general aspects of Riken's management and research planning activities," according to the ads.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 15.

"We are planning to select a candidate at the middle of January 2011," Ishii said. "Many of the core facilities, including animal facility, array analysis, and mass spec analysis, are now shared by multiple centers and ASI. So, we think that any new chief scientist can start the research in this field immediately."

The successful candidate is expected to begin work starting April 1, 2011. While Riken maintains a mandatory retirement age of 60, the chief scientist could continue working, depending on evaluation results, until age 73 in the position of distinguished senior scientist.

Ishii said the position will be funded through an internal budget of about $500,000 a year, as well as through external funds, mainly government grants. A chief scientist, he added, typically oversees a lab of about 30 people including research staffs, postdocs, technical staffs, and graduate students.

The 10 biological labs are among Riken ASI's approximately 50 labs in areas of research within biology, physics, chemistry, and engineering. Riken ASI has facilities within Riken's main headquarters campus just outside Tokyo in Wako, as well as in Sendai and Nagoya.

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