Graduate School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

A day for Mao Nebuka (Doctoral Program)

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Arriving at school

I go to school from my parental home in Sapporo. Today, under the clear May sky, when the path leading to the Library of the School of Medicine is covered with cherry blossoms in full bloom, I start the day with a refreshed feeling.

I decided to go on to a graduate school to continue my research because I was fascinated by the experimental method of electrophysiology I learned about while doing research for graduation from the pharmaceutical department of a private university.


Literature review and arrangement of experimental data

My day starts at the desk with reviewing papers and organizing experiment data. On Mondays all graduate students gather at 9 in the morning, check the experimental animal rooms, and discuss experiment plans with their assigned faculty advisers.



I bring lunch from home, and enjoy the lunch and conversation with faculty advisers and colleagues sitting at a large table in the lab. Today, I am with professor Mitsuhiro Yoshioka (left in the left photo) and faculty adviser Yu Ohmura (second from the left, left photo).


At the experimental lab

The photos show me engaged in mouse stress tests and biochemical experiments. I am developing an experimental approach to observe changes in behaviors (response of serotonin neurons) of mice that have been frightened and administered medication to apply stress. I am investigating how serotonin receptors are involved in “fear” responses.

When I was an undergraduate student, I was engaged in research of electrophysiology to observe the mechanism of a single cell using brain slices of mice. Currently, I conduct experiments in behavioral pharmacology using mice, one at a time. Due to individual differences in mice, we sometimes get unexpected results. This is a difficulty in my research.


Preparation for presentation

I am scheduled to report on the progress of my research at a plenary meeting of students and staff from 5 p.m. So, I had my faculty adviser Ohmura check what I will report in the presentation.

Dr. Omura often advises me to look at my research critically. I am engaged in research with a keen awareness that research requires me to look at the results critically, because without that I will be unable to achieve my goals.


Plenary meeting

Students in this course attend a plenary meeting every Wednesday, where we introduce papers or present our own research. Today, after I reported on my research I received useful suggestions from my advisors and seniors.

In the lab, we have people from different backgrounds, both doctors with clinical experience and undergraduate students who share in the learning. My main task is to investigate the central neurons of the mouse, but when the object is a human being, I can learn from a senior in the doctoral program who is a psychiatrist. Some of the undergraduates have attended the class from before I joined. They are helpful seniors and close friends.

I want to develop the research I am doing now and wish to become a researcher in the future. I wish to be able to tell my juniors of the pleasure it is to be given the opportunity to learn as a graduate student.

(Interviewed in May 2017)

Webpage of the Department of Neuropharmacology which this graduate school student belongs to