OIST welcomes new Assistant Professor Hiroshi Watanabe, who leads the new Evolutionary Neurobiology unit, which works to understand how neurons and the nervous system have evolved over time. He has joined us from the University of Heidelberg.
Watanabe earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and began his career in the biochemistry field. Using cutting-edge techniques in genetics and neuro-imaging, Watanabe subsequently shifted his research interests to evolutionary neurobiology with new experimental models of cnidarians, which are aquatic creatures that have specialized cells for catching prey.
The emphasis on collaboration and developing interdisciplinary research was a major reason Watanabe decided to join the OIST faculty. “There are many important unsolved biological issues, especially in the evolutionary biological field that should be tackled with new technologies and between disciplines,” he said. Once Watanabe’s lab is established, he hopes to provide new insights into the understanding of early evolutionary processes of the cellular “neuronalization” and the neural centralization.