Tuesday, 6. August 2013 - 10:31

Next-Gen Leaders Gather at DNC

OIST hosted its fourth Developmental Neurobiology Course, an intensive program that provides participants with a developmental overview, model systems and experimental methods of neurobiology. The two-week course, which ended July 31, featured 22 instructors from OIST and several other academic institutions in Japan and other countries. The instructors worked with 24 students from more than 10 countries. “It is quite rare,” said organizer and OIST professor Ichiro Masai, “that they agreed to lecture to such a small group of students. Most of them could attract hundreds of people,” he added proudly.

Three segments of the course kept the students busy throughout the week: three-hour lectures both morning and afternoon, discussions with instructors in the evenings, and lab work to try out experimental methods on the weekend. This year, OIST Professor Yoko Sugiyama joined as an organizer and helped to introduce lectures on the functional aspects of nervous system development. The university's expanded facilities also allowed her to incorporate lab work in electrophysiology into the curriculum. Yasuhiro Funahashi, a young researcher at Nagoya University, praised the DNC, saying “I found it extremely well-organized, offering not only seminars but also a practical lab course in which I could get my hands dirty and obtain a real feel for the experiments.” He added, “It was inspiring to have discussions with students and young researchers from overseas.”

The DNC has also served as a catalyst for networking among leaders of the next generation. Professor David Van Vactor, one of the organizers of the program, suggested that one other way to benefit from this program was by building an international network. Many participants came here to do just that. On the basis of recommendations from friends and co-workers, Helen Neuert, a Ph.D. student at the University of Muenster in Germany, joined the DNC program. “I met very nice students, and I would like to keep these new connections with researchers from all over the world.”

Prof. Van Vactor also believes that in order for OIST to establish a strong position in the scientific community, it is crucial that young scientists gain valuable experience at OIST and feel a sense of attachment to it. Prof Van Vactor expressed his hope that, “In the future, some of the students here will go on to become leaders in the field.”

By Yukiko Shibata

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