Director’s Greeting

Glycans are considered the third chain of life, following nucleic acids (DNA) and proteins, and they have a significant role in life phenomena including development, infection, immunity, nervous system, etc. Different types of translated proteins undergo glycosylation and perform a variety of functions in the human body. Glycans also provide a diversity of functions to proteins and increase the efficiency of several biological processes. Moreover, lipids in the cellular membrane also undergo multiple types of glycosylation. In this manner, glycoproteins and glycolipids are widely distributed in the body and deeply involved in diverse biological reactions. However, because of the complexity of their structures and biosynthetic processes, analysis of glycans is more complicated than genome research, and their functions in many essential biological phenomena which have not been fully discovered.
Currently, big data accumulation of various experimental data is the subject of much attention, and data science and mathematical science to make use of such data are becoming increasingly important. By introducing data science and mathematical science to glycan studies, remarkable results are expected. In April 2019, we established the Glycan and Life Systems Integration Center (GaLSIC), which integrates glycobiology (biological studies involving glycans) and glycoinformatics (informatics studies of glycans) to answer essential questions of the life sciences. Furthermore, in January 2021, to create a further leap forward in these fields of study, we have reorganized the center by adding new members specializing in data science, mathematical science, and bioscience.
At present, the importance of glycans is recognized not only in Japan but also in many other countries. Glycans are involved in all life phenomena. Therefore, their application covers not only diseases such as cancer, hereditary diseases, and lifestyle-related disease but also all areas of biology, agriculture, and medical science. We are committed to further promoting research in this new fusion area we are creating, aiming to understand the essence of life phenomena involving glycans.
Director Shoko Nishihara