Message from Professor Sakurai

We have 2 missions in this department: Research and Education.

On the research side, our department has a long tradition of organic anion transporter research. I view these transporters as important regulators for signaling inside the body. From absorption and secretion to delivery and disposition, signaling molecules have to be at the appropriate location in order to act properly. As many endogenous molecules turned out to have a signaling function, it is critical to elucidate where and how these molecules are handled in addition to their intra cellular signaling pathways. For example, uric acid is not a signaling molecule in a classical sense, too high or too low levels of it in the serum may lead to clinically relevant consequences such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer disease. Then, to figure out sensing and control system for uric acid should be important.

Most of my research career has been devoted to kidney development, mainly to find soluble factors that regulate morphogenesis program. Now I am more interested in basic processes and their regulation mechanisms. For example, how tubular structures form and are maintained both microscopically and macroscopically. This leads to another interesting area, cancer research. If epithelial cells composing tubules change their phenotype, the tubular structure will be compromised as well as their characteristics such as apical-basolateral polarity and tight junction with adjacent cells. This process may lead to invasion and metastasis.

You can see our main projects in this website. But I am open to fresh approaches. If your interest is somewhat related to epithelial biology, it is a good possibility you find a place in this department.

Another mission is education. Because we belong to private medical school aiming to nurture competent and caring clinicians, we must provide medical students with a sound knowledge and thinking process of modern medical pharmacology. We also pay special attention to the growth of young scientists, i.e. graduate students and post-docs. About 15 years ago when there was a strong “Ikyoku” system (very tight hierarchal order system from top down, top being a professor or a director of the division) in Japanese medical schools, my supervisor gave me a freedom to choose an academic career in the United States. It is time for me to pass such a generosity onto younger generations. I will give an academic freedom to researchers in the lab. At the same time, I am prepared to provide not only scientific discussions but career advice.

I would like to welcome every scientist. If interested, do not hesitate to contact me.

Hiroyuki Sakurai, MD