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ONNA, Okinawa — Japanese officials Friday named British biologist Sydney Brenner, the co-winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in physiology, to head a new graduate school for the natural sciences on Okinawa.

Brenner is co-chairman of the panel working to open the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology by 2007. Courses at the school, to be built along Okinawa’s resort strip on the island’s central-west coast, are to be taught in English.

Brenner, 76, is currently a research professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in San Diego.

The project was unveiled in 2001 as part of a wide-ranging national public works package to boost Okinawa’s economy. Construction of the school is expected to cost about 80 billion yen, or $745 million.

Under current plans, a research laboratory will open in 2005. The school should gain graduate school status two years later when the number of researchers reaches 50.

Most faculty members will be recruited outside Japan, and the focus will be on biotechnology, according to the institute’s planning committee.

Okinawa was chosen as the location of the school because of its history as a center for the foreign exchange of trade and ideas and its close location to the major cities of Asia.

Toshimitsu Motegi, minister in charge of Okinawa and the Northern Territories, made the announcement during a ministerial meeting on Friday in Tokyo.

Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine said he was “filled with joy” by Brenner’s appointment.

“He is not only a superb physicist, but he also has a friendly personality,” Inamine said in a statement. “Okinawa will do its best to welcome him as the president of the school.”

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