This interview is with Ms. Kimiko Murofushi, professor of theOchanomizuUniversity, who lectured on June 27th in the course titled “Career Development for Science Major Women.”
Organization: Professor of Emeritus of theOchanomizuUniversity, Professor of the Endowed Research Division of Human Welfare Sciences, Council Member of the Science Council ofJapan
Field of study: cell biology, biochemistry
Ms. Murofushi has truly elegant and gentle atmosphere. Time goes by quietly, slowly and peacefully as we go on talking… but don’t forget that she is also a truly great researcher of cell biology.
This is her academic and career history summary;
1972 Master’s degree in Science in the Ochanomizu University Graduate School
1976 Doctor’s degree in Medicine in the University of Tokyo Graduate School, doctor of medicine
1977 Studied abroad at the New York City Public Health Institute, went abroad with her child
1980 Came back to Japan, teaching assistant in the Biochemistry Course in the Faculty of Medicine, the Teikyo University
1983 Teaching assistant, lecturer and professor in the Faculty of Science of the Ochanomizu University and in the Human and Culture Studies Course in the Ochanomizu University Graduate School
Dean of the Faculty of Science in 2002, Director and Vicepresident of the University in 2004
1999/2005 Visiting professor at the University of Louis Pasteur (France)
2011 Unaffiliated director of Bridgestone Corporation
2013 Professor emeritus of the Ochanomizu University, professor of the Endowed Research Division of Human Welfare Sciences
Having discovered new lipid mediators, cyclic phosphatidic acid (cPA) and steryl glucoside (SG), further research proceeded to clarify their physiological function and mechanisms of receptors and metabolic regulations that are needed to function them. cPA functions for multiplication, differentiation and movement control of cells, has infiltration and metastasis inhibitor effect for cancer cells, and life maintenance and injury treating effect for nerve cells. SG works as a controlling element in a beginning stage of stress response. Currently, to make a good use of latest research results for society, a joint research program with private companies and other organizations is conducted aiming for application of cPA and SG for medicine, health and beauty. Also, further research is conducted on telomerase inhibitor named TELIN, which was developed by the team, aiming for its application to medicine as an anticancer drug.
● When and how did you choose to study science?
When I was in elementary school, I met a science teacher who influenced me a lot. It was rare to have a teacher who taught only science at that time. The teacher roughly explained an experiment process and let the children think what the result would be. If you had the right answer, you could go out and play. Of course everyone wanted to go play so all children thought very hard and took turns to go to the teacher and tell their answers. The teacher told some students to think again a bit more and some other students that their answers were right and they could go play. In the next class, we actually did the experiment. Sometimes we got a result of the right answer, other times we got an unexpected result and thought why. I began to love science thanks to this class and the “habit of thinking” that I learned in the class became a powerful thing for me henceforth.
● I see. The habit of thinking must be very important. We have quick answers on the Internet nowadays and have few chances to think using a full thought process.
After elementary school, you entered theOchanomizuJunior High School.
Yes, I did. As there was a beautiful elder relative who graduated fromJoshiKotoShihanSchool(predecessor of Ochanomizu), I also wanted to go to Ochanozmizu. I spent time at the campus of Ochanomizu for 12 years as a student and 30 years as a teacher, for 42 years in total. We call those who spend a long years on the Ochanomizu campus “Ochazuke” (lol) *Ochazuke is rice with tea (cha in Japanese)
● (Lol ! That’s a very high-class ochazuke…) I personally have not been to a girls’ school. What is it like?
It’s hard to explain (lol). TheOchanomizuUniversityhas been producing female teachers for a long time. I met many female teachers at its attached high school and junior high school. Looking back on those days, all science teachers were women at junior high and half of science teachers were women at high school. As many students as one third went to science majors. As I met many good teachers throughout years, I came to realize how big an influence teachers have on their students. My dream was to become a good teacher and teach science to as many students as possible along with the pleasure of thinking.
● You wanted to become a teacher. How did the teacher change to a researcher?
I love doing experiments more than anything else. As I went to university and graduate school, I couldn’t stop doing experiments (lol) so I became a researcher instead of a junior high and high school teacher. But my dream of becoming a teacher came true through lectures and research guidance for university and graduate students and through teaching many children in an off-campus activity (Yume no Tsubasa Project: http://www.npo-ochanomizu.org/tsubasa/: an activity including lodging-style camping events to watch over the long-term development of children who lost their parents in the Great East Japan earthquake.)
●In the next edition, we heard about her experience of abroad with her son!