What is the current focus of your research, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?
I study the cellular characteristics and identity of tissue stem cells in the body. At present, my major interest lies in studying the heterogeneity of mesenchymal cell subpopulations and their roles in living organisms.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?
As an undergraduate student, I majored in tissue engineering, and my research focus was on artificial skin. The conundrum as to why lizards, but not humans, can regenerate feet led me to become a researcher. I want to gain an understanding of the potential of human stem cells, thereby revealing the mechanisms underlying refractory disease pathogenesis and developing treatments.
What is the most exciting aspect of your work?
The best part of being a researcher is the ability to publish my research and obtain valuable feedback from other researchers worldwide. Venture enterprises have also been established based on the technology developed in my study. This showed me the powerful influence of pure research in the real world.
What guidance would you share in talking with trainees interested in pursuing your area of research?
I would ask them if they were ready to apply themselves in the scientific field with sincerity. Furthermore, I would wish for them to have the utmost determination to pursue scientific research.
Do you have any mentors or individuals who have inspired you in your stem cell work?
My research is currently pursued under the guidance of Dr. Simon Mendez-Ferrer of Cambridge University, UK. His approach towards and perspectives on stem cell research and his personality have been major influences for the researcher I see myself becoming.
How do you spend your free time?
As a leisurely activity, I practice Kendo (the way of the sword) or take my children to a museum. Moreover, my morning routine involves taking a 20-minute walk without using any gadgets. Doing so helps me reset my mind slightly, thereby inculcating new ideas and improving my concentration at work.
What is something your peers would be surprised to learn about you?
During elementary school, I memorised pi (π) up to 100 digits and remember all 100 digits to this date. As a child, I had difficulty learning the fact that the universe is endless. Although knowing pi up to 100 digits has never actually come in use until now, it helped me realise the concept of “infinity.”
What do you most value about your membership with the ISSCR?
My network of researchers has grown immensely. As an ISSCR committee member, planning and managing international meetings has been a uniquely enjoyable experience. Additionally, by engaging with the wonderful staff and members of the ISSCR, I gain new insights and learn to think more creatively.