President Nobutaka Hirokawa

Professor Nobutaka Hirokawa took office as President and Chair of the Board of Trustees on April 1st 2012. He succeeds the eminent theoretical physicist, Professor Akito Arima, who served as President from April 1st 2009 to March 31st 2012.

Professor Hirokawa is a prominent neuroscientist and cell biologist at the University of Tokyo. After studying medicine and obtaining a PhD in neurobiology and cell biology in Tokyo, he spent 4 years in the USA, first as a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco and then as Research Assistant Professor and Associate Professor at Washington University School of Medicine. On returning to Japan, he was appointed Professor and Chairman of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, where he served as Dean from 2003-2007. He now holds the position of Distinguished Project Professor at the same institution.

Nobutaka Hirokawa is a world leader in studies of the molecular mechanisms involved in transporting materials within nerve cells, in particular in his discovery of many of the functions of the kinesin superfamily of molecular motors. In his research he has employed multidisciplinary approaches including molecular cell biology and genetics, electron microscopy, structural biology and biophysics. In recognition of his scientific achievements he was elected as an Associate Member of EMBO in 2003 and a Member of the Japan Academy in 2004. He has served on editorial boards of international journals such as Cell, Science, Neuron, Developmental Cell, Journal of Cell Biology and EMBO Journal.

Photo by Sandro Weltin