Outstanding tribute to former President Peter Gruss

November 03, 2023

The Japanese government awards the former Max-Planck and OIST President the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, one of Japan's highest national honours, in recognition of his contributions to Japanese science.

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star is awarded by the Japanese government to individuals who have made exceptional contributions in various fields of society, including the advancement of science and technology. With this award, the Japanese government recognizes Peter Gruss' contributions to the development of education and research in Japan as former CEO/President of the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology (OIST), as well as his promotion of scientific and technological cooperation between Japan and Germany during his time as President of the Max Planck Society.

The Max Planck Society has been linked to the leading Japanese research institution RIKEN for over 30 years through a cooperation agreement. The agreement, which dates back to 1984, was renewed in 2010 by the then Presidents Peter Gruss and Ryōji Noyori. They thus strengthened the successful and trusting relationship between the two organizations, which cooperate specifically in strategically important areas.

During the term of Peter Gruss (2002-2014), Max Planck Centres (i.e. cooperation platforms with a duration of between five and ten years) were established with Japanese research institutions for the first time: in 2011, the Max Planck-RIKEN Center for Systems Chemical Biology with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and the RIKEN-Advanced Science Institute; in 2012, the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Center for Quantum Materials followed. Originally planned as a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research and the University of British Columbia, the University of Tokyo joined as a third partner in 2017. In 2019, the Max Planck-RIKEN-PTB Center for Time, Constants and Fundamental Symmetries was created between RIKEN and the Max Planck Institutes for Nuclear Physics and Quantum Optics.

In total, the Max Planck Society conducts more than 100 research projects in cooperation with Japanese partners; around 100 Japanese junior and visiting scientists work at Max Planck institutes every year and the MPG now also counts four Japanese researchers among its scientific members.

In January 2017, Peter Gruss succeeded Sydney Brenner and Jonathan Dorfan as president of OIST. Under Gruss' leadership, OIST has also made great strides in the academic arena. According to the latest normalized data from Nature Index, the proportion of OIST's high-quality articles published in 2020 is now comparable to world-leading institutions such as Caltech, MIT and Stanford (press release OIST).

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