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About Us


Women in Science, Japan (WiSJ) is a working group that holds an annual international symposium called the "International Symposium for Women Researchers in Chromatin Biology (ISFRCB)". ISFRCB aims to promote friendship and mutual career support through networking among the participants in this research field.

Why did we decide to organize WiSJ and
the 1st ISFRCB?
How was WiSJ started ?

The ratio of female professors and associate professors in Japanese universities is about 15% overall, the lowest among 29 countries, including Western Europe and developing countries around the world. One reason for this may be that there are very few successful role models for female researchers in Japan.


Chromosome/chromatin biology is a scientific field in which the percentage of female students and researchers is relatively high world-wide, compared to other fields of basic research. Indeed, many outstanding female scientists lead laboratories and even institutes, while pursuing research in chromatin or chromosome biology.

What is Chromatin Biology?

In the spring of 2011, three female researchers learned that a leading female scientist, Susan Gasser, was staying at Osaka University for one month as a visiting professor. These three women longed to become independent group leaders and wanted advice and guidance from Susan. They sent an enticing e-mail to her, asking “Please have a dinner with some Japanese female researchers!”
Susan warmly replied to their request and joined for a wonderful evening, leaving the three Japanese women scientists strongly encouraged by her words. This was the start of a network of female researchers, which continued to keep contact with Susan and to mutually support each other. Currently it has grown into a slightly larger group called WiSJ.

Kiyoe Ura (Chiba Univ)

In eukaryotic cells, genomic DNA is wrapped around histone octamers to form nucleosomes, which in turn form higher order structures called chromatin. The chromatin fiber is folded into distinct functional domains in the nucleus, which contribute to the regulation of gene expression. Changes in chromatin organization accompany changes in expression patterns during cell differentiation, development and disease. Exploring and understanding the basic mechanisms of chromatin domain formation and their re-establishment during cell and organismal propagation are of fundamental biomedical importance.

WiSJ members

Noriko Saitoh (JFCR, Japan)

Yuki Okada (Univ. of Tokyo, Japan)   

Kiyoe Ura (Chiba Univ., Japan)

Miho Ohsugi (Univ. of Tokyo, Japan)

Junko Kanoh (Univ. of Tokyo, Japan)

Noriko Yasuhara (Nihon Univ., Japan)

Satoko Arakawa (Tokyo Medical and Dental Univ., Japan)
Masako Tada (Toho Univ., Japan)

What is ISFRCB?

ISFRCB aims to present the cutting edge of chromatin biology, by featuring leading women scientists in the field of chromatin biology. The session will include invited speakers from abroad and from Japan, including institute heads from Europe. Recognized leaders from Japan are also invited to participate, in particular promising younger group leaders. Several speakers will be chosen from submitted abstracts. This symposium is open to all participants, men as well as women, although only women will be invited to give platform talks. The goal is to compensate for the underrepresentation of women giving plenary talks at many conferences in Japan and elsewhere.
We will also offer a leadership course that is open to men and women, and will be based on the topics covered by
the EMBO Laboratory Leadership Course. The European Molecular Biology Organization offers a Laboratory Leadership course regularly in Heidelberg, which usually lasts 3 days. Instead, we present a half day overview of relevant themes for successful scientific management (e.g., leadership, research integrity, problem solving, conflict resolution and mentoring). There will be smaller group discussions on specific topics that research team leaders encounter, led in part by the invited speakers from Europe, who will also help guide the discussions on institute and lab leadership in breakout sessions. Even though it will not replace a full EMBO Lab management course, we feel that it would be a valuable opportunity for participants to learn and discuss institute and laboratory management skills. We emphasize that both males and females are welcome to join both the symposium and the course. Participation fees will be announced later at the page of ISFRCB2020.

ISFRCB 2019 President

Executive Advisor

Professor Susan Gasser  (Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Switzerland)

Portraet_Susan Gasser_freigestellt_WEB.j

Remember, you are not alone ! Women in science must support each other, share experiences and encourage each other, as we integrate into the world of academic research.  Women are not better or worse scientists than men !  But we must learn to share, expand our competence and foster the careers of other women, in our own way.

Please find more messages from Susan,


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