Strengthened cooperation between Japan and Sweden

6 December 2022

Professor Dan Larhammar and the Japanese Ambassador Masaki Noke.

Professor Dan Larhammar receives "The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star" award from Japan's Ambassador Masaki Noke. the Japanese Ambassador Masaki Noke.

The Japanese government has awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star to Dan Larhammar for his efforts in promoting academic exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and Sweden.

Dan Larhammar, Professor of Molecular Cell Biology, is a board member of STINT, the Foundation for the Internationalisation of Higher Education and Research. STINT promotes knowledge and competence building in internationalisation at Swedish higher education institutions. In his role as President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he also chaired the International Committee of the Academy.

Dan Larhammar
Dan Larhammar, Professor of Molecular Cell Biology.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“It was very interesting to get to know the various cooperation organisations for academies both in Europe and globally,” says Dan Larhammar. “I worked to strengthen international contacts between countries and especially to stimulate cooperation with Japan.

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science was founded in 1932, has an office in Stockholm and cooperates with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. They organise exchanges for Swedish scientists to go to Japan for shorter or longer stays via scholarships. Swedish researchers may also nominate Japanese researchers to come here as guest lecturers.

“Prominent Japanese researchers come to Sweden and give lectures at several different universities,” says Dan Larhammar. “The lectures are usually very popular, and the topics range from natural sciences and medicine to social sciences and the humanities.

“Japan is a successful country in science, which is reflected not least in the many Nobel Prizes they have been awarded over the past 20 years in chemistry, physics and medicine. So it is, of course, mutually beneficial for prominent countries like Japan and Sweden to cooperate.”

Climate change on the agenda

The intellectual exchange and various personal collaborations with Japanese scientists have also shaped Dan Larhammar’s own research in evolutionary hormone research over the years, particularly the collaboration with a colleague at the National Institute of Genetics.

”Using the genome, we are trying to understand the complexity and evolutionary success of vertebrates,“ says Dan Larhammar. “How did vertebrates become so complex and acquire so many extra genes all of a sudden 500 million years ago?

“My curiosity about many different areas of research inspires me, especially in the life sciences. But at the top of the agenda are issues related to ongoing climate change. I have learned a lot about climate issues during my time at the Academy of Sciences. It is important for all scientists to get involved in this,” concludes Dan Larhammar.

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star is one of Japan's oldest national awards and was established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. The modern version of this honour has been awarded to non-Japanese recipients since 1981. The award is designated by the Japanese government and is given to individuals who have rendered outstanding service to the state in various fields.