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(Photo, Hannah Ng)

Undergraduate students join leading Japanese Neuroscience teams

Three undergraduate students from the University of Exeter Medical School have been working with world-leading centres for neuroscience research, based in Tokyo.

Two BSc Medical Sciences students joined RIKEN Center for Brain Science, while a third joined the National Cancer Center, both of which collaborate closely with Exeter.

Dr Kumi Kuroda, of RIKEN Center for Brain Science, specialises on the mechanisms underlying maternal behaviour, and was joined by undergraduate student Hannah Ng. Qalam Eusuf joined Professor Toru Takumi, who specialises in the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorder.

Dr Ryoichi Sadahiro, of the National Cancer Center, studies genetic changes linked to delirium, and was joined by undergraduate student Ffion James. Ryoichi works closely with Jon Mill’s epigenetics group, based at the University of Exeter.

Qalam Eusuf, who worked at RIKEN, said: “Spending a year in Japan was the opportunity of a life time to learn more about scientific research and experience a new culture. I was lucky enough to take on a variety of research which has left me feeling very well prepared for my future career in science.

“During my placement, I was working alongside 5 other researchers in the gene-editing CRISPR team with the aim to understand the molecular basis of psychiatric disorders.”

Hannah Ng, who also worked at RIKEN, said: “I lived in Saitama which is a metro ride away from Tokyo, and working at RIKEN, Centre for Brain Science. I worked in the Affiliation Social Behaviour Lab where I was looking at the role of oxytocin in maternal behaviour. I had the best year there!”

Ffion James, who worked for the National Cancer Centre, said: “I helped Sadahiro Sensei with his research project that which focuses on delirium. I use the Japanese metro system to get to the lab by 6am every morning to continue with my research. I focus on how the imbalance of cytokines (suibstances secreted by cells of the immune system) underlies the onset of postoperative delirium.

“I’ve developed such confidence by starting a life in such a foreign country, made so many wonderful memories, and have even learnt a little Japanese; but most of all I will always remember this experience as being one that helped me begin my journey as a woman in science.”

Qalam, Hannah and Ffion were the first group of students to take part in this placement programme. Alexandrine Lawrie and Paige Windmill will be joining RIKEN Center for Brain Science, and Marcelo Amorelli and Betsan Jones will be joining the Nationcal Cancer Center in September.

Date: 28 May 2019

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