Graduate Course in Biological Sciences
We are working on various biological science disciplines from basic biology to medical sciences, including gustatory sense, intracellular protein transport, brain development, computer simulation on neural network as well as gene therapy for vision loss, optogenetics, conservation of species with iPS cell and immortalized cell technology, germ cell conservation technology, improvement of genome editing and drug discovery.
Interviews with Students
Collaboration and sharing with others are important in experiments and research.
The most important reason why I decided to enter graduate school was because I realized my lack of knowledge and powerlessness when I looked back over the past four years, and I wanted to further improve myself and increase my knowledge and capabilities during my two years of graduate school. I decided to go on to graduate school because I wanted to graduate with a master's degree and achieve more in my research. Since entering graduate school, I feel that I have grown more than I did as an undergraduate student, and I have a deeper understanding of my research and am able to conduct my research with enthusiasm.
When I entered graduate school, I sometimes wondered if I would be able to devote myself to research with enthusiasm for two years, but after seeing my classmates working hard on their experiments and talking with my seniors, my worries naturally disappeared and I am now spending my time in a fulfilling way.
During my undergraduate years, I studied biology, especially the more detailed topics related to our lives, such as genetics and nerve cells. In addition to life sciences, I also had the opportunity to study e.g., chemistry, calculus, and physics during my first year of undergraduate school, which provided me with a wide variety of knowledge; furthermore, I studied laws, arts, phycology, and local dialect, in which I am also interested in spite of completely different academic fields. In my third year, I was assigned to a laboratory for my graduation research, and had started to work on gene therapy of the eye. Specifically, I worked hard to establish a treatment for diseases that cause blindness due to degeneration of photoreceptor cells that receive light by introducing photoreceptor proteins, and I am continuing the research in graduate school.
Currently, there is no treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or age-related macular degeneration to protect photoreceptor cells and maintain visual function, and the development of treatments is long awaited. In recent years, gene therapy for visual regeneration using optogenetics technology has shown promise. Channelrhodopsin used in optogenetics is known to efficiently excite or inhibit neural activity by transmitting ions into cells upon receiving light. I am investigating the protective effects by introducing novel anion channelrhodopsins into retinal pigment epithelial cells and photoreceptor cells of RP model animals. In particular, we are expressing the channelrhodopsin gene developed in our laboratory in retinal cells, evaluating its cytotoxicity, and examining the morphological characteristics of retinal cells by staining retinal tissue.
Other than biology, I studied pedagogy and did teaching practice in a high school in the undergraduate school to get a teaching license. I am continuing the study to obtain a superior license. I sometimes feel that I have no time to spare because of the extra classes, but every day is fulfilling, and there are new discoveries even in the studies outside of my field.
Moreover, I played lacrosse as a school club activity. We won in the rookie games in Tohoku region, and proceeded to the national championship games. Even now I go to the club and supervise the training as a coach. Of course, studies and research are crucial for students, but I think that it is also important to strive towards a goal with teammates, and improve the senses with various experience.
In the future, I would be happy if I could find a job where I can directly apply my research experience, but even if the job is not related to my major, I would like to make the best use of the methods and approaches I have learned in the research. In addition, since we conduct experiments in collaboration with many students and researchers in our laboratory, there are many situations in which a selfish behavior is inappropriate. I believe that I was able to acquire the ability to be considerate of my surroundings in order to make colleagues' life comfortable, and I would like to make use of this ability even after I start working.
※Interviewed in December 2022.