G.ecbo internship: Cancer Research UK (United Kingdom) in AY2009
(Group photo of members of the research lab from when I studied abroad (I am third from the left in the first row.))
After completing the final part of my doctoral program, I took a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Cancer Research UK (the current Francis Crick Institute ). Since October 2015, I have been a tenured researcher at the Shigei Medical Research Institute in Okayama and I am working hard day and night on my research about kidney disease.
Opportunities in which you take advantage of your internship experience/what you learned via the program
I feel that my experiences through G.ecbo and the people I have met are what have decided my life path for me. Before participating in the internship, I had not been thinking of going on to do a doctoral program. I enrolled in the master’s program with no clear goal for the future. My reasons for participating in G.ecbo were rather selfish: I felt that the internship could make it easier for me to get a job; and also that I would be able to attend soccer matches in the UK. (My apologies to those involved in my internship.) Cancer Research UK, where I did my internship, is one of the leading research institutes in the areas of medical science and life science, and many of the highest ranking researchers, including winners of the Nobel Prize, are gathered here. Through my experiences in such a superb environment, simple-minded person that I am, I become enamored of the research profession, and I started to harbor a wish to study abroad. During the final part of my doctoral program, my supervisor was very strict with me partly due to my lack of study thus far. However, I worked very hard always with the thought of London in my mind. When it seemed fairly sure that I could attain my qualification, I started thinking about where I wanted to study abroad. I had been strongly impressed by where I had done my internship, so I decided to go back and study at the same research lab. When I went there for the interview, I was told that I seemed to have matured a lot and I was genuinely pleased with that comment. I did experience some problems with the place where I lived and also with my English ability, but the people around me came to my help and so I was able to spend a truly stimulating and productive time while I was studying abroad. Even now, after my return to Japan, I still enjoy a friendly relationship my teacher in the UK, including with his family as well. Also a member of the research lab where I was before sometimes comes to stay with me and so exchanges are still taking place. As I look back now, I feel that each encounter I had, each experience, are all connected and the catalyst for all of this was G.ecbo.
Advice for your juniors
Actually, there was a time when I thought I would quit being a researcher. However, through a chance meeting once at a conference, fate had it that I would work at my current workplace. Recently I am made acutely aware of how important connections with people are. If you try your best each day, treasuring each encounter you have, your path will naturally become clear to you. Finally, if someone is trying to decide whether or not to study overseas, I recommend that they take up the challenge. In this modern day and age, when Japanese scientific technology is making great progress and you can be connected globally if you use the internet, it may seem not so necessary to study abroad. But it will bring you many chances for experiences and encounters that may change your whole life and also, even if you are not aware of it, you will mature in many ways.
(Giving a presentation at an international conference)