NIMS opens Overseas Operation Office at the UW

Japan’s National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS) opened an Overseas Operation Office in April 2008 at the University of Washington (UW) Roosevelt Commons Building, establishing UW as an international crossroads for materials research and development.

“This is the first-ever attempt for a Japanese national laboratory, such as NIMS, to establish an office outside of Japan,” said Fumio Ohuchi, the UW professor of materials science and engineering who will oversee operations for the office. “This office will act as a showcase model for international collaboration.”

Several UW departments will contribute expertise to the collaborative research center, including Materials Science & Engineering (MSE), Chemistry, the School of Medicine, and the Center for Nanotechnology.

MSE’s first projects will include research on thermoelectric materials and development of a “simple, compact, robust and maintenance-free module for tunable infrared wavelength conversion devices,” Ohuchi said.

The Overseas Operation Office, located at 4311 11th Ave. N.E., was made possible by a grant from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In September 2007, MEXT selected NIMS as one of a handful of Japanese institutes eligible to receive grants under Japan’s World Premier International (WPI) Research Center Initiative.

NIMS was selected for its proposed “International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics” (MANA), which will capitalize on one of Japan’s fortes—materials development—to solve emerging issues related to the environment, energy and more.

“In the framework of MANA projects, we will promote complementary research collaboration between NIMS and UW in interdisciplinary research fields, such as medical, marine, environmental, earth and space science and engineering,” said Ohuchi. “Fostering the development of students and young researchers through mutual exchange programs is another important objective.”

Kenji Kitamura, MANA principal investigator and co-director of the office, said that the Seattle office will look at current research trends in the U.S. and seek government funding from organizations such as the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. The office also will function as a liaison for foreign personnel and other universities in the U.S.

Ohuchi said that strong partnership between NIMS and UW will facilitate collaboration with U.S. companies, “with the ultimate goal of launching joint-venture companies as a spin-off of our research efforts.”

The NIMS Overseas Operations Office held an opening reception on June 2 in the UW Tower.

For more details on the office or the opening celebration, contact Ohuchi at ohuchi@u.washington.edu or Kitamura at kitamura.kenji@nims.go.jp.

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