About Us

About Us

Itami Molecule Creation Laboratory, RIKEN

Scientist impressed by nature and being captivated by molecules.
Irreplaceable molecule-makers appreciated by people.
Connect molecule making value and connect people making team.
This is who we want to be.

Transition and aspirations: Establishing the Molecule Creation Laboratory at RIKEN (April 1st, 2024, Kenichiro Itami)

A quarter-century has passed since the inception of my academic career as an assistant professor at Kyoto University in 1998. For the past 19 years, starting from 2005, I have been entrusted with a research group and a laboratory at Nagoya University. During this period, I have overseen the academic growth of 129 undergraduate students, 110 master’s students, 52 doctoral students, 48 overseas graduate and undergraduate students, 40 postdoctoral researchers, and 15 corporate researchers. I am grateful for having contributed to the development of over 50 professors in academia. This achievement, however, was not solely my own; it was made possible by the exceptional dedication of my staff and students.
Looking forward, as I transition to RIKEN, my goal is to establish a laboratory that will pioneer new molecules and functions that will serve as a launching pad for Molecular Nanocarbon Science 2.0. Additionally, I aim to mentor and support young researchers who will shape the future of science in both basic and applied fields. As for our research endeavors, my laboratory is named the “Molecule Creation Laboratory,” reflecting my aspiration to craft the one and only molecule that possesses both unparalleled structural beauty and function.
I am profoundly grateful to the numerous individuals who have supported me and my group. With humility and sincerity, I am committed to putting forth my utmost effort in research and education.


Laboratory management

The effectiveness of research results and the vitality of laboratories are maximized when a delicate balance is struck between curiosity-driven research, rooted in unique strengths, and mission-oriented research, aligned with significant visions and social needs. Guided by this principle, I have led my laboratory. The Molecule Creation Laboratory will concentrate on designing, synthesizing, and advancing new molecules while maintaining strong collaborations with other laboratories and centers within and beyond RIKEN, and industrial partners. We will also actively engage in mission-oriented research aimed at addressing social challenges. In particular, I firmly believe that mutually beneficial collaborations across synthetic chemistry, chemical biology, materials science, theoretical chemistry, and data science will shape groundbreaking trends in science.
Passionate research, transcending disciplines, is fun! As we pursue our aspirations, our research scope broadens, and we sometimes receive help from people and research methods from other fields. As a result, interdisciplinary research teams form to solve big problems, and spontaneous discussions among researchers from different domains spark entirely new projects. This insight has been a key lesson from my research journey. Collaborating fervently with researchers from various fields has infused my research with unexpected discoveries, creativity, novelty, and uniqueness. RIKEN, housing top-notch and unique researchers across a wide range of fields, provides a platform where I anticipate witnessing unique manifestations of chemistry and molecular behavior.
All members of my laboratory are enthusiastic about exploring the unknown. Our goals revolve around listening to the voices of our hearts, breaking free from constraints, channeling our passions, and conducting unique research.
Maintaining research integrity is of utmost importance in research. We will establish the highest standards for integrity, rigor, and safety in research through research ethics education, multilayer data checks, and secure storage practices.


Human resource development

In addition to emphasizing the importance of education through lectures, I place a strong emphasis on research as a crucial element in developing excellent human resources. Our lab’s goal is to establish an environment where students and researchers not only acquire fundamental knowledge and skills in chemistry but also cultivate essential abilities such as critical thinking, so that they can become researchers who can demonstrate leadership in the future. I strive to mold individuals who can not only identify problems and articulate logical solutions but also communicate the essence of their findings effectively.
In addition, in order to achieve great success as a researcher, it is extremely important to experience first-rate research for oneself and acquire a sense of “how to climb up and down the mountain.” To this end, I will continue to make my best efforts to work together with the lab members on issues that always hold great potential.
As a lab leader, I firmly believe in fostering an atmosphere that prioritizes discussions about dreams and big goals, encouraging the members to “Be unique! Go crazy! Be happy!”
Rather than offering detailed instructions, I aim to create a “place” where all members, myself included, can immerse themselves in research with passion and excitement. Acknowledging and applauding the research proposals and attempts of lab members is a priority, and I strive to provide inspiration along the way.
This approach aligns with the wisdom shared by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and William Arthur Ward, emphasizing the importance of stimulating and inspiring learners. I am committed to infusing my leadership role with the energy, determination, and compassion essential for leaders and educators. With Goethe’s words in mind–”The young would rather be stimulated than taught”– and Ward’s insight– “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explained. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires” – I dedicate myself to nurturing exceptional human resources through passionate, interdisciplinary research.

 Kenichiro Itami