Friday 24 September 2010

Role models

Attended a seminar by Prof. Elisabeth von Brand from Chili who was a keynote speaker at APEC Women Leaders Network Meeting. She got her PhD thesis at Tohoku University, Department of Agriculture, 20 years ago, and so she visited Sendai this time. 

She gave us two topics, one was about gender equality situation in Chili, and the other was about her carrier path. She got her three children, and the third one was just one-year-old when she became Dean of her department of marine biology.

She said it is important to find a partner who shares your dreams and is willing to share other responsibilities. She also mentioned that it is also critical to find role models to fit you. In her case, her first role model is her father who is also a researcher, although in different field. And the next is her biology teacher at elementary school. The third one is a teacher in biology at her university, who is already over 80 years old, but she is still doing research, attending conferences, and organizing meetings. Her final message was that balancing your file style is important to sustain your career development.

It is so nice to listen to a talk by such a well-balanced person.

Profile of Elizabeth von Brand 

Wednesday 22 September 2010

TEDxChange Event

Attended TEDxChange event on Holiday Monday. I was invited to attend TEDxTokyo event in May, but could not make it due to my tight schedule in Sendai. It was so sorry, and I had expected another chance.

About 50 people gathered at 東京 Interaction Center in Kagurazaka, around 21 pm, and TEDxChange Global event started around midnight since it was ustreamed from the east coast (NYC, I am not sure, though). That event was coorganized with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Espceially focused on health in developing countries. As TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, talks by four people were interesting and enjoyable.

I felt like connecting with people who were watching this event in various areas on the earth. It is quite the world that was suspected by Jacques Attali, a French economist and politician, who wrote "Une Breve Histoire de L'avenir".

TEDxChange Global

Saturday 18 September 2010

Meeting is to meet in person

From Tuesday to Friday, one of our faculty colleagues, Prof. Ichiro Sora, organized the 40th Japanese Society for Neuropsychopharmacology meeting jointed with the 20th Japanese Society of Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology meeting organized by Prof. Koichi Ohtani. Prof. Sora hold another meeting today (Saturday), the 18th Annual Meeting of Japanese Society of Psychiatric Genetics. I gave a talk on Thursday and today, and had dinner a few times. So, not only for Prof. Sora's lab members, but also for me, this is the meeting week.

What is nice to attend meetings is to hear presentations directly, which is often easier to capture the essence of their research. But probably, more than that, it is the occasion to see someone in person. I met Dr. Akiko Hayashi who recently came back from Prof. Sawa's lab in Johns Hopkins, and joind the Kasai Lab at the University of Tokyo. Since I have happened to know her name through a recommendation to a private fellowship and through excellent results in Sawa Lab, I was happy to see her in person. She did a good job at her presentation today on DISC1 and related molecules, and ongoing research on drug discovery, etc.

She has got Sakigake-grant, which is considered to be prestigious among young scientists in Japan. Hoping good luck for her research.

Nat Neurosci Paper
Sakigake Grant

Friday 17 September 2010

Facebook reminds me my good and old friends

Already registered in Facebook about a year ago, I have not used it so much. Don't know why, but one reason may be I am tweeting on Twitter, relatively many tweets per day. But I have got an invitation to an event held at Monday night from a virtual friend, or a friend whom I have not met in person. This invitation was used a system of Facebook to announce people who are friends on Facebook about the event. Facebook is more popular than Twitter in the US and Europe, heard from my foreign friends. So, considering potential merit, I have determined to use Facebook more frequently than before.

The system has suggested to list up my friends, seems automatically utilizing addresses of my friends that I have sent mails via gmail or address. As a result, I've got many announce mails telling me about "XX confirmed you as a friend." And I've got messages from a good and old friend that I have not recently contacted. This is somehow heartwarming chance for me to recall my memories.

Not sure how to use of how often to use Facebook in my daily life, but I think it would be nice to use it for connecting my friends in every way.

Our first paper on video journal

About a week ago, we have published our first paper on a video journal. It is a video protocol of rodent whole embryo culture using the rotator-type bottle culture system. A quarter century ago, I was fascinated by dissected mouse embryos when I first learn this technique at my previous laboratory in Tokyo Medical & Dental University. They are still transparent, just developing their blood vessels in vivid red. To publish this paper, Masa Takahashi, a junior colleague of mine, has made a great effort with the help by Mr. Hajime Ichijo at Public Relation Office in out medical school.

The method of rodent whole embryo culture using the rotator type bottle culture system by Takahashi & Osumi

Thursday 16 September 2010

The 34th Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society

Today, I talked at a morning symposium organized by Prof. Fukunaga and me on fatty acid signals in neuroscience at the 40th annual meeting of Japanese Society of Neurophychopharmacology in Sendai. This reminds me that it is already less than one year to hold the 34th Annual Meeting of Japan Neurosience Society in Yokohama. I will serve as the chairperson to organize the whole meeting. A tough work..., but I would like to enjoy it as much as possible together with people who will contribute to the organizing committee.
The 34th Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society

Friday 10 September 2010

The 20th Jozenji Street Jazz Festival

From today the 20th Jazz Festival has started in Sendai. The main area is on Jozenji Street and some parks in the downtown are also venues. This is called "Jazz Festival", but there are variety of bands, like rock' roll.
Jozenji Jazz Festival HP

Monday 6 September 2010

A pregnant researcher is working in the lab

This morning, I just bumped into my previous student whom I thought to still work in a hospital in Ishinomaki, about 3 hours from Sendai. She is pregnant now, and expecting her baby within a month. That is why she came back to Sendai, quitting her job as a medical doctor. Now she has started her experiment to accomplish her paper by obtaining additional data. Good luck for this working pre-mother!

Brain imaging of the rat

On the third day, I organized a morning symposium (starting from 8:30, sigh...) with Dr. Keiji Wada at National Institute of Neuroscience. The theme of this session was "Nutrition and Neuroscience". I talked about fatty acid signals in neurogenesis, production of new neurons in the brain. DHA and arachidonic acid have differential effects on maintenance and differentiation of neural stem cells.

Dr. Wada's work was interesting in regard with mother-pup's relationship (bio-communication, he says). Mother's nutrient conditions have much influence on pups. For example, fatty diet (e.g., corresponding to 6-8 hamburgers per day) of the mothers before and during pregnancy plus during weaning results in impaired cognitive functions of the pups.

What I found most interesting was the data of rat brain imaging at intake of alcohol, corn oil, glucose, and glutamate (because the work was done by a researcher belonging to the institute of Ajinomoto Company). Alcohol reduced overall brain activity, and glucose immediately activate the brain! So, it seems quite reasonable to take candy or chocolate when we feel tired at the level of mind and to boost up our brain.

Sunday 5 September 2010

His's Old Book "Die Entwickelung des menschlichen Gehirns wahrend der ersten Monate"

The 33rd Annual Meeting of Japan Neuroscience Society was held in cooperation with other two societies, therefore it was relatively big one compared with standard annual meetings. This was true not only at the level of the number of participants and presentations but also of financial support. So, the get together party was held with more than 600 people attended, enjoying good food and beautiful performance by Maiko-san and Geiko-san. On behalf of the chair of next year's meeting, I made a speech at the end of the party, apologying that you cannot expect those kind of things next year, so instead, I will wear kimono. But no dance!

There were so many bookshops that were selling variety of books and journals related with neuroscience. At one such shop, I found an old book by an famous Swiss anatomist and embryologist Prof. Wilhelm His, published in 1904! It was "Development of Human Brain" written in German with many sketches of human fetal brain tissues. I once quated His's statement on the neural crest, an transient tissue giving rise to the peripheral nervous system, melanocytes, and craniofacial bones. It is amazing that we can see such an old book even now, after more than a century. Books are still living media to transfer knowledge, philosophy, idea, etc.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Tokizane Award to Prof. Kaoru Inokuchi

Attending Neuro2010 meeting in Kobe from day before yesterday. The scientific session has started from yesterday.

What was happy for me was Inokuchi-sensei was given Tokizane Award from the Japan Neuroscience Society, and talked at Award Lecture. He was originally a bacterial geneticist, and changed his field when he read a book written by late Prof. Nakaakira Tsukahara, a decipline of Tokizane-sensei.

The book "Plasticity and memory of the brain (in Japanese)" was published by Iwanami-shoten in 1987, two years after his sudden death by the accident of Japan Airline on August 12th in 1985, owing to the enormous effort by Tsukahara-sensei's deciplines, Prof. Fujio Murakami and Prof. Yoichi Oda, together with Tsukahara-sensei's wife.

This year, the book was re-published as a pocket-edition, cheaper than the original one. This is because an editor in Iwanami read an essay written by Inokuchi-sensei, and felt that this is the book that must be read over generation.

Although the premature death of Tsukahara-sensei was tragedy, his scientific insight, philosophical mind, and experimental ideas can be transmitted even to young people who read this book. The memory can also be stored in books.

Last night at the dinner party cerebrating awardees of Tsukahara Award, an award for young researchers under 45 year old given from the Brain Science Foundation, founded partly by Tsukahara-sensei's wife,  I did a speech mentioning above.

Just started

Just started my blog in English. Will post essays and tweets on science, art, books, food, drink, etc. Hope to update daily, but don't know...