YCU Science Summer Program 2013

The fusion of different disciplines of life, material and medical sciences creates the innovative prospects

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First Day—August 19 (Monday)

2013 YCU SSP Opening Ceremony

 The opening ceremony for the fifth YCU Science Summer Program took place in the fourth floor meeting room of the YCU Medical Center.

 After opening remarks by the SSP Supervisor, Yasuhiro Ozeki, a professor from the Graduate School of Nanobioscience, the students introduced themselves. Although the students had had an excursion the previous day to the Minato Mirai district and had gotten to know each other quickly, the mood of the opening ceremony was full of anticipative excitement, as the program truly got underway.

Lecture No. 1 — “What we should learn from disaster happened in the world - The medical action of Yokohama City University for the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011”

Kyota Nakamura, Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, and Vice Chair of the Advanced Critical Care and Emergency Center, YCU Medical Center

 Dr. Kyota Nakamura of the Advanced Critical Care and Emergency Center, which provided aid in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake in response to requests by the national and local governments, spoke about the Center’s efforts for lifesaving activities in times of disasters. The lecture included discussions about the lessons learned from earthquake disasters and the problems faced in disaster zones.

Practical Class No. 1 — Tour of Facilities at the Advanced Critical Care and Emergency Center

 Students took in the splendid view of the international port city Yokohama from the Center’s rooftop heliport.


 Students saw the level of the Center’s preparedness with triage and operating rooms to treat emergency patients. The tour gave the students an appreciation of the Center’s important role and function when disasters occur in the city or the country.


 Students tried on protective masks and clothing and experienced extreme heat as well. The composition of the super-strong material is a high-tech trade secret.


 The Center’s head nurse gave the students an explanation of the functions of emergency response vehicles and the Center’s ambulances. Students were taken on a test ride as well.

Lecture No. 2 — “Infectious Diseases in Asia”

Yoshiko Okamoto, Chief of Operations Development Team, Center of Research Network for Infectious Diseases (CRNID), RIKEN

 Dr. Yoshiko Okamoto, chief of CRNID, a part of RIKEN with whom YCU works in collaboration, gave a lecture on the challenges presented by infectious diseases that originate in Asian countries. CRNID is an organization that promotes the Japan Initiative for Global Research Network on Infectious Diseases (J-GRID), which advances research into infectious diseases in partnership with universities and research institutions in Asian and African countries. The Asian SSP students were very interested in the lecture and fired off many questions. The lecture room was enlivened, as students from the University of the Philippines exchanged contact information with the lecturer for future correspondence.

Practical Class No. 2

Lecture: Future Vision of Medical Life Science
Yoshifumi Nishimura, Professor and Director of the Graduate School of Medical Life Science

 At the Graduate School of Medical Life Science, which was completed on the Tsurumi Campus in April 2013, life is regarded as a system, from the atomic and molecular level all the way up to high-order cells. The School’s mission is to conduct world-class research, and it also aims to be a global player by networking with leading overseas educational institutions. Professor Yoshifumi Nishimura spoke about the challenges the School will face in the coming years in furthering life science and medical research, which are advancing globally.

Facility Tour: Tour of Advanced Medical Life Science Research Facilities
 Professor Yoshifumi Nishimura, who is the director of the Graduate School of Medical Life Science, spoke enthusiastically to students about the principles of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) equipment and the valuable bio-information that NMR provides.

 NMR equipment creates massive magnetic fields and was selected as the filming location for “Galileo,” the popular TV show starring Masaharu Fukuyama. The Varian Inova 900 MHz spectrometer looks almost like a robot.

 Professor Mamoru Sato explained the structural arrangements of proteins to students in front of an X-ray spectrometer.

 Leading researchers of protein structural arrangements deal with the crystallization techniques of biomolecules and X-ray spectrometers (center, rear). These devices help researchers explain the structural arrangements of abnormal proteins, which is hoped to close in on the origin of diseases for new medicine design. Students were able to observe the jewel-like crystals of proteins.

 Professor Akinori Kidera spoke about the enormous amounts of electricity supercomputers consume and how hard it is to remove the heat and keep the supercomputer cool.

 Although the K Computer is well known as one of the fastest in the world, YCU’s supercomputer is still battling strongly. It is used to calculate the behavior of proteins. These calculations, combined with experimental results, have given new information that is rewriting conventional wisdom. A Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of aquaporins, which are proteins that transport water through cells. Students were thrilled by the simulation video of the instant aquaporins work and witnessed the wonder of information science first hand.

 Professor Kohtaro Takei, who is developing regenerative medicine research based on the neural circuit formation mechanisms in the brain, and Associate Professor Atsushi Suzuki, whose research into molecular and cellular biology is connecting cell polarity research to disease treatments, shared the themes of their respective research. Students were able to hear about these fast-moving fields from researchers at an intimate distance. It took an impressively long time for the researchers to finish answering all the students’ questions.


 In a program that encompasses such wide-ranging material as this one, it is important to summarize what was learnt that day. In the evening of the first day, the SSP Supervisor and students held a free discussion. Students were left with the message that although emerging infectious diseases, like natural disasters, occur suddenly, simulation technology, which is one of Japan’s expert fields, can predict these outbreaks. The other message for the students was that research attempting to explain the substances that cause diseases on an atomic and molecular level using advanced equipment is very important in greatly enhancing our understanding of life sciences and in driving new advancements in medical science.