Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience is a nonprofit organization established on October 1, 1992. The aim of the Foundation is to promote worldwide progress of glycoscience, especially that of glycoconjugates.
Since carbohydrates have many uses in our daily life, a huge number of studies have been done on their basic characteristics and practical applications. However, earlier studies were confined almost exclusively to those of simple carbohydrates such as starch, cellulose or chitin. In those days no sophisticated experimental techniques and/or instruments were available, and the true biological significance of complex carbohydrates, such as glycoproteins, glycolipids or proteoglycans, remained unnoticed.
The situation is now rapidly changing; recent studies have shown that many complex carbohydrates, or glycoconjugates, are dynamic constituents (rather than static ingredients) of cells and tissues. It now appears that many glycoconjugates form the recognition sites for various molecules and/or signals. The recognition of extracellular signals given by hormones or other effectors is essential for regulating the intracellular metabolism, whereas a message transmitted from other cells may be an important means of intercellular communication. Many scientists now believe that glycoconjugates are involved, along with proteins and polynucleotides, in such fundamental biological activities as development and differentiation of cells and tissues, aging of individuals, immunoreactions, carcinogenesis and other pathogeneses. It would appear, therefore, that further investigation of glycoconjugates may greatly improve our basic understanding on life itself and, as a result, may provide valuable information for the development of new medical and diagnostic supplies as well as for that of novel medical and health-care technologies for the next generation.
Nevertheless, the science of glycoconjugates is still in its infancy, and many things are yet to be done. For example, one must isolate many previously unknown glycoconjugates, determine their structures, correlate the latter with their biological and pathological activities, establish novel methods of syntheses and develop new analytical techniques. Application of modern molecular biology is also very important.
The aim of Mizutani Foundation is to contribute to the welfare of mankind through promotion of basic studies on glycoconjugates mainly by distributing research grants to qualified scientists regardless of their nationalities or ethnic origins. The Foundation may also support international conferences on glycoscience to facilitate exchanges between Japanese and foreign glycoscientists and carry out other activities that are vital for the progress of glycoconjugate-related sciences.