Long-standing professor named 2022 IUPS Fellow
Physiology is the study of processes and mechanisms that make up living organisms – from chemical and molecular interactions to entire body systems.
At the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), Professor Tomoyuki Takahashi leads the Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit, a group that studies mechanisms involved in the maintenance of neurotransmission, or communication between neurons in the brain. Specifically, he studies presynaptic sites in neurons. These play a key role in all brain activity, including memory, sensory, and motor function.
Research findings from the unit could have broad application in the fight against diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. “I believe that many of these diseases are based on synaptic dysfunction, but synaptic function is not fully understood,” he says.
Professor Takahashi takes a physiological approach to synaptic function by dissecting mechanisms underlying dynamic changes of synaptic signaling. He and his team evaluate new findings from their lab and others from the standard of physiological relevance.
“To address our scientific questions, we directly record synaptic signals and perform crucial tests using a variety of molecular and pharmacological manipulations,” he says. “We take special precaution to eliminate artifact, which often takes an appearance of new finding.”
By studying neurotransmission as a system and in-situ, Professor Takahashi’s Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit also aims to create therapeutic tools for neurological diseases. This aligns with the IUPS goals for advancing physiological research and teaching for the benefit of human health and society.
Each year IUPS chooses fellows who “have made exceptional contributions to physiological sciences.” According to the IUPS website, up to 30 fellows are chosen each year from around the world. Professor Takahashi is one of two researchers from Japan to be chosen for 2022.
“I am grateful that my former colleagues recommended me for this fellowship, and I look forward to working with the IUPS,” notes Prof. Takahashi.
Written by Rhett Register
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