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Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Posted by , on 14 March 2011

We were deeply shocked to hear about the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, and would like to express our sympathy with the people of Japan.

Throughout the weekend, we have been following news from colleagues in Japan, but we still don’t have a complete picture of where researchers in the affected area are and how they are doing. If you do have information or would like to enquire about biologists in Northern Japan, please feel free to use the comments area of this post to communicate and share information with other developmental biologists.

We do have an update at this moment from the CDB Epigenetics Symposium.
This symposium is currently underway in Kobe – a city no stranger to earthquakes itself. Despite many cancellations from participants, and a few requests to call the meeting off, the organizers made a decision to hold the symposium anyway. In an email to meeting participants, they explain why:

“[S]ome advised us not to hold the CDB symposium. However, we also learnt from the Kobe earthquake that maintaining our daily activity and maintaining a sense of normalcy, is the best what we can do in the unaffected areas.”

The symposium has, however, been reduced to two days only. Many attendees had to cancel, and flights in and out of any part of Japan are experiencing delays.

We are closely following news from the Japanese developmental biology community through contacts at RIKEN CDB and the JSDB. We’ll update this post with news, and encourage you to communicate in the comments, so you can bookmark this post and come back to it later to find out what’s going on with your colleagues in Japan.

– From various sources (but first through Raj’s comment below) we heard that Tohoku University’s Dr. Koji Tamura, Dr. Harukazu Nakamura, Dr. Funahashi, Dr. Toshihiko Ogura, Dr. Noriko Osumi, and Dr. Asako Sugimoto and their lab members are all doing fine. The labs have suffered material damage, and they have lost freezer samples, but we hope to have more detail on how the research community can help them once they’re settling back into their labs.
– The joint GfE/JSDB meeting in Dresden will be held next week with a shortened programme, as not all Japanese speakers will be able to attend.
– German researchers have set up the Nippon Science Support Network, to offer space and resources to their Japanese colleagues. (via The Great Beyond, which has more updates).
– (31/3 update) The NIH has sent Japanese societies an offer to help: “Plans are underway to provide temporary scientific homes at NIH for Japanese colleagues and fellows who may have lost research facilities in Japan. Also, the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) has established a fund to help earthquake victims in Japan. Voluntary contributions may be sent to FAES, NIH Building 60, Suite 230 (One Cloister Court, Bethesda, MD 20814) and designated for the “Japanese Earthquake Fund.”” (as sent to the JSDB by Michael M. Gottesman of the NIH)
-(6/4 update) The NSF has grants available for researchers affected by either the New Zealand or Japan earthquakes. See their website for details.

Relevant links:

CDB epigenetic symposium (with updates)

Tohoku University emergency page for students and staff (Japanese).

Google Person Finder (English/Japanese)

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5 thoughts on “Japan Earthquake and Tsunami”

  1. Here is some information I received about developmental biologists in Tohoku University, Sendai, which was the city closest to the epicenter of the earthquake.

    > Dr. (Koji) Tamura, Dr. (Harukazu) Nakamura, Dr. Funahashi, Dr. (Toshihiko) Ogura, Dr. (Noriko) Osumi, and Dr. (Asako) Sugimoto and their lab members are fine, although their laba are a mess. Most serious things are that samples in -20 degree and -80 degree are lost. We have to help them if we have materials they need.

    1. Thank you, Raj. I think that was the best we could hope for in this situation. Once they have all settled back into their labs, I’m sure people will help them with the material losses, as happened in Chile last year.

  2. We’ve also heard of a message from Naoto Ueno for anyone who knows and might be worried about Margaret Buckingham, who was in Sendai on Friday, that she is fine

  3. 44th Annual Meeting of JSDB with joint sponsorship of the Asia Pacific Developmental Biology Network (APDBN) will be held during May 18-21, 2011 in Okinawa. After the earthquake the organizing committee surveyed the situation and have decided to hold the meeting as scheduled. Please note that Okinawa is Southern most area in Japan and is more than 2000km away from the Tohoku area, and was completely unaffected by the earthquake. Looking forward to seeing many of you.

  4. Updated the post with a message from the NIH.

    The Node has also offered to post (or have people post) any requests for materials and samples that the Tohoku labs might need once they’re back at work. We heard from Noriko Osumi that the main delay in Sendai right now is the unavailability of petrol, which makes it very difficult to start re-construction as staff can’t get to the campus.

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