The Noda Institute for Scientific Research (NISR) was established in 1942 on the basis of a fund provided by the Noda Soy Sauce Co., Ltd. (presently the Kikkoman Corporation) in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education on January 31st of the same year. The purpose of NISR was defined in the articles of its establishment as follows; ‘This foundation is intended to carry out research primarily concerning fermentation chemistry to advance the growth of the industry and, thereby, to contribute to the development of science, technology, and culture.’ When we began actual research activities back in 1946, just after World War II, the making of brewed soy sauce was far from being understood scientifically. For that reason, we decided to concentrate on basic research concerning soy sauce. Since then we have uncovered the underlying mechanisms of soy sauce production, clarifying what microorganisms are involved and just how they are involved in the brewing process of soy sauce. This resulted in making it possible to produce high-quality soy sauce anytime, anywhere, and contributed not only to the establishment of Kikkoman’s United States factory in 1973, but also the other collaborative factories for soy sauce production constructed at various sites in Japan. Therefore, the whole quality of soy sauce produced by the Japanese soy sauce industry was markedly improved.
Our research interest in microorganisms for the production of soy sauce has since changed to enzymes produced by microorganisms. This has led to the discovery of various new enzymes, most of which are now used for clinical diagnosis. In addition, research on gene manipulation began in 1976 and resulted in the development of a unique host vector system (sleeper vector), which allowed for industrial mass production of desired enzymes. Furthermore, on the basis of recent progress in the biotechnology field, we are exploring new possibilities regarding higher organisms as well as microorganisms.
In 2000, NISR changed the direction of its research and focused on the study of microorganisms used in soy sauce brewing and also began a grant project, which supports a research fund in the field of applied biology for the development of the fermentation and brewing industry.