Sunday, 24. February 2008 - 15:00

Lecture by Dr. Ichiro Masai

Lecture by Dr. Ichiro Masai
of the Developmental Neurobiology Unit
February 25 at Yamada Junior High School

Using genes to investigate the mechanisms of developmental biology

In his first lecture to schoolchildren since joining OIST in October 2006, Dr. Masai first talked to the entire school of approximately 60 students about his academic background, saying that he had first learned in a university biology class that genes determine the formation of multi-cellular organisms of living creatures. Dr. Masai said his desire to investigate this mysterious mechanism has led him to pursue biology. Explaining that the human body consists of hundreds of cell types, all originating from the fertilized egg, Dr. Masai told the students that developmental biology is the study of the process by which a single fertilized egg develops into different parts in our body. He said the whole mechanism behind the process has yet to be revealed, adding that the Developmental Neurobiology Unit aims to elucidate the mechanisms that control cell fate decisions and tissue pattern formation by using zebrafish. He further explained that the unit is investigating whether genes regulate neuronal development by focusing on mutants showing defects in retinal development of zebrafish.

Using an analogy of mountain-climbing, Dr. Masai concluded his lecture by saying that in order for scientists to conduct research, one must first choose a mountain (research theme) and a course to climb (research strategy), while also obtaining funding (research funding). He said the next stage would be to arrange climbing gear (procurement of research equipment and goods), and to form a climbing party (training of research staff and formation of a unit), after which an actual climb (experiments) begins. He noted that it is also important to summarize the climb afterwards (research results to be disseminated in various forms including presentation at society meetings and publication in journals) to complete the research.




Dr. Masai


Students listen to Dr. Masai's lecture


A student asks Dr. Masai a question


Dr. Masai receives a bouquet from students