Site: Biophotonics Information Laboratories, Ltd. (BIL)
Yamagata Prefecture Advanced Technology R&D Center
2-2-1 Matsuei
Yamagata 990-2473, Japan

Date Visited: 15 October 1998

WTEC Attendees: O.R. Zaborsky

Hosts:

BACKGROUND

The mission of the Biophotonics Information Laboratories, Ltd. (BIL) is to understand the various states of life through information gleaned from biophotonics, the study of light-biological interactions. BIL is an element of the "Life Support Technology Plan" of Yamagata Prefecture and is intended to develop the Tohoku region as a center of excellence in science and technology.

The project's objective is the development of life support technologies through technologies for non-invasively measuring the functions and structures of living systems at high speed using light. Expected results include the following:

BIL was founded in March 1993 by 13 firms and several Yamagata Prefecture organizations and foundations. It is a 6-year joint research project terminating in 1999, with a planned fund of 3.45 billion of which 70% is invested by the Japan Key Technology Center (JKTC) and 30% by participating companies.

Management at the time of this WTEC visit included Michio Fujisaki, CEO (Fujitsu), Dr. Masaichi Shinoda, Executive Director and President (Fujitsu Ltd.) and Mr. Hideo Sekiguchi, General Manager, Technical Administration. Strong motivation for this project came from Professor Humio Inaba, Tohoku Institute of Technology, also a Director. Senior technical staff includes K.P. Chan, B. Devaraj, M. Kobayashi, and J. Miyazaki.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

BIL's research is focused on biophotonic phenomena that include the following:

Research and development work has been focused on the following:

BIL consists of three laboratories with 21 researchers. The three laboratories are as follows:

  1. Biophoton Laboratory
  2. Device Development Laboratory
  3. Bio-Imaging Laboratory

In addition, BIL is advised by three committees:

  1. Technical Evaluation Committee, which convened at the start of the project and at the end of year 2 and within JKTC
  2. Technical Advisory Committee, which convenes annually and consists of experts in relevant technology fields
  3. Technical subcommittees, which convene when required and consist of technical specialists from participating organizations

COMPANIES SUPPORTING BIL

The companies supporting BIL are the following:

OBSERVATIONS

BIL is dedicated to biophotonics, one of two such organizations formed by JKTC.

BIL's focus on optical imaging of tissues seems to have been well placed, and results are quite impressive in that fine details not available by magnetic resonance imaging can be seen (e.g., structural details of the joint region, bones and blood vessels).

BIL, while relatively small in terms of personnel, has achieved good results in technology developments in the biomedical imaging field and also in publications. The results and data described in the visit have been published and presented at some leading U.S. meetings (e.g., Gordon Conference).

The motivation for establishing BIL came from a leading local university professor, Humio Inaba, who also has been instrumental in providing key researchers to this effort (e.g., Dr. Kimpui Chan, Dr. B. Devaraj).

The application of biophotonics to biomedicine is receiving highest priority, but applications are also being pursued in agriculture, an area of local interest (farmers).

Economic development is a major objective of this project, more than other JKTC projects in the biotech area visited. BIL is part of a larger industrial park, the Yamagata Prefecture Advanced Technology R&D Center.


Published: September 1999; WTEC Hyper-Librarian