On the way to restoration May 2, 2016

2016.05.09 ●News

On the way to restoration (May 2nd, 2016)


Ryuichi Nishinakamura
Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics (IMEG), Kumamoto University


Past messages from the Director:
Eleventh day after the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake (Apr. 25, 2016)
To all IMEG members and supporters (Apr. 19, 2016)
Be smart. Stay foolish (Apr. 14, 2016)

Photos of the institute after the Kumamoto earthquake 2016


We really appreciate your contribution to IMEG’s fund. We received many email and donations from researchers and former high school or undergraduate classmates whom we have not seen in the last 20 or 30 years. Many academic societies, universities, and institutes gave us a wide variety of support, and we are keeping tight communication with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Thank you very much.

We finished checking for electrical leakage. Many staff members of the machines’ manufacturers came to Kumamoto to provide support, and they have started examining whether our machines are functional. Such an early recovery from terrible conditions is due to the great contributions of our institute’s staff, the Liaison Laboratory Research Promotion Center (LILA), our building’s caretaker, office workers, students, and the many support staff sent by the manufacturers. To all of the contributors, I would like to say thank you, and I am proud of you.

In addition to the damage to the buildings, the basic equipment on the upper floors is severely damaged, including the bench, cell culture system, microscope, and computers. Earthquake-proof fixation had been performed but was insufficient; some laboratory devices had fallen from the wall along with the fixation equipment. Common equipment was placed on the 2nd, 5th, and 8th floors from the perspective of usage; many devices above the 5th floor were fallen and broken. In particular, devices that were set on desks were widely damaged. Although we thought that we had adequately prepared for earthquakes after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, this situation shows that our preparation was not sufficient. It is difficult for us to decide how to use the upper floors in the future. If we install the devices on the lower floors, staff will then have to stay on the upper floors, which is a problematic situation from a security point of view. We will consider and try to resolve this issue as soon as possible.


Our campus has four buildings, including our own, making it the central hub of studies utilizing mice. For example, our research at IMEG on the development of mouse organs and bodies contributes significantly to the iPS research on organ reconstruction. The mouse facility (CARD) contributes to animal studies nationwide by producing, keeping, and storing genetically engineered mice. Animal studies need researchers, animals, and equipment in place to produce good results. Fortunately, no researchers have been lost. The mouse facility building is damaged, but the mice are unharmed and are being kept safe. However, a lot of equipment was damaged. Few of the laboratories at our university are well funded, though we have produced results that can compare to any other research institutes in the world. The secret lies in our sharing scheme. We have shared animal facilities, expensive, cutting-edge machines, and support staff to help us use the environment, which have enabled our small laboratories to work efficiently. These items were the lifelines of the above-mentioned scheme, and they have been damaged. Not only have the facilities in our institute been shared by all of us but also three other buildings, as well as those on the neighboring medical school campus. Additionally, researchers across the nation come here to conduct studies using these instruments because IMEG is a Ministry of Education-rated hub for sharing and joint research institutes. It is detrimental not only to research by Kumamoto University but to that by nationwide researchers that we cannot provide the hub at this moment. We should return to the front line of research as soon as possible. We feel that it is in the interests of both science and patients to do so. Additionally, it is indisputable that we face an urgent need to restore the buildings in which we pool our equipment and conduct research.


Unfortunately, many of the manufacturers’ staff members will be delayed in coming to Kumamoto because of aftershocks, and their arrival may be further delayed due to consecutive holidays. The details of the damage sustained by many machines should become clear around the middle to the end of May. The total losses seem to be enormous. It will take between several months to one year to resume our studies owing to the need to negotiate the budget, make repairs, order replacements, conduct bidding, and then allow time for manufacture and delivery. We will do our best to minimize the delay of our studies. Thank you for your continuous support, regardless of whether it is in or out of our institute. In addition to our studies, it is challenging to support foreign students as they return to our school, students whose houses were severely damaged, and students expecting graduation soon. We would appreciate your kind consideration of making a contribution toward rebuilding Kumamoto University’s entire system.


More than two weeks have passed since the initial earthquakes, and I am worried that we may become excessively fatigued. I have heard that the number of aftershocks has exceeded 1,100. Let us regain our vigor and get together again on May 9th. I am hopeful that we can restart our research as soon as possible. Last but certainly not least, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for your help, and I would greatly appreciate your further encouragement.


P.S. Under the emergency state, I, as a director, have released information about the damage situation.. However, our public relations group will provide updated information from next week. Thank you very much for your continuous support.


Translation; volunteer members of Tohoku University, Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization寳澤篤、松井裕之、大場健太郎、信國宇洋、小林朋子、石黒真美、寺川貴裕、中村智洋、田中由佳里、長神風二
English proofreading:volunteer work of Editage by CACTUS