Prof. Okamura

Prof. OKAMURA Katsutomo

RNA Molecular Medicine

Please tell us about your own research and what you find interesting about it.

We’re studying the regulation of gene expression with a focus on small RNAs (especially miRNAs). Abnormal expression of miRNAs is observed in various diseases such as cancer. We hope to clarify how miRNA expression is maintained within a strictly normal range in healthy organisms and what molecular mechanisms are involved in abnormal miRNA expression in diseases. It’s interesting to note that we’re gradually understanding that miRNA expression is also regulated in a multi-step and complex manner and that it works in a cooperative manner with various other molecular mechanisms to control one’s physical state.

Please tell us about the difficulties and joys of the research field.

In my laboratory, we’ve discovered characteristic nucleotide sequences related to the biosynthetic efficiency and degradation rate of miRNAs. The moment when we were able to find a rule from seemingly random sequences, formulate a hypothesis, and prove the hypothesis experimentally was extremely memorable. It’s hard when you cannot find a law or when the experimental system doesn’t work well, but I think the joy of discovery comes from those times.

Please tell us about the expected results and social significance of the project.

I believe that a deep understanding of the regulation of gene expression will help us to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause diseases, to develop new therapeutic methods, and to detect diseases in their early stages. In addition, I believe that it’s an important role of our laboratory to produce a large pool of human resources who will be active in both academia and industry in the future through education in fields that are highly demanded by society, such as bioinformatics analysis and biochemical experiments.

A message of support for students who are about to take the exam

In a nutshell, NAIST is a place where people from diverse backgrounds, both students and faculty, come together to work toward their own goals while interacting and cooperating beyond the walls of the laboratory. We encourage you to visit NAIST at any time to learn more about our research from our faculty members and to hear about the environment here from current students.

What websites, books, review articles, and so on, do you recommend for studying in order to apply for the lab ?

Checking our laboratory’s website( reading review articles we’ve published( doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00172. eCollection 2014 etc.)would be recommended.

What do you do to keep yourself fresh?

Watching films.