KYUSHU UNIVERSITY 先生の森KYUSHU UNIVERSITY 先生の森

I want to share the fun and depth of medical research I want to share the fun and depth of medical research Faculty of Medical Sciences, Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Science (First Department of Internal Medicine), Professor Kyushu University Hospital, Director of Clinical Education Center Kyushu University Distinguished Professor Koichi AKASHI

Faculty of Medical Sciences, Department of Medicine and  Biosystemic Science (First Department of Internal Medicine),  Professor Kyushu University Hospital, Director of Clinical Education Center Kyushu University Distinguished Professor

Koichi Akashi

Professor Akashi leads the First Department of Internal Medicine in Kyushu University which has over 110 year history. Professor Akashi is a world-level researcher with a constant eye on the leading edge and deepest areas of cancer treatment. He is known in particular for his trailblazing research of cancer stem cells that is the source of malignant tissues.

Professor Akashi leads the First Department of Internal Medicine in Kyushu University which has over 110 year history. Professor Akashi is a world-level researcher with a constant eye on the leading edge and deepest areas of cancer treatment. He is known in particular for his trailblazing research of cancer stem cells that is the source of malignant tissues.

Profile Details

Born in Kurume city, Fukuoka, Professor Akashi, with his talent in both humanities and science also displayed an interest in pursuing a career as a lawyer but was won over by his father's words to aim at becoming a doctor: "If you pursue the humanities there will be no connection with science, but if you pursue science it will encompass both, especially in the medical department.". After graduating from the Kyushu University School of Medicine in 1985, he continued working primarily in the clinical bone marrow transplantation at Kyushu University School of Medicine, First Department of Internal Medicine (today known as Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Science), Kyushu University Hospital's Department of Transfusion Medicine, and at the Harasanshin General Hospital. After a period of foreign exchange at Stanford University's Department of Developmental Biology and Pathology in 1994, he took supervision of a research laboratory as an associate professor of cancer immunology studies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University in 2000. In 2004, he became a professor in the Center for Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Kyushu University Hospital. He has been a professor since 2009 at Kyushu University's Faculty of Medical Sciences, Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Science.

What is your research about?What is your research about?

A research staff can get along well with Professor Akashi who is "frank and easy to communicate with."

Located in the middle of Kyushu University Hospital lies a laboratory closed to non-staff. Carrying out daily experiments and verification.

A research staff can get along well with Professor Akashi who is "frank and easy to communicate with."

The area that I oversee, our department brings together the separate areas of hematology, neoplasia, the cardiovascular system, immunity, collagen and infectious diseases, etc. is focusing on comprehensive internal medicine. A special characteristic tradition was derived from the first pioneer professor of our department—Professor Ryukichi Inada (a Noble Prize candidate for his work in identifying the Weil's disease pathogen and establishing a method for its suppression)—is it's not being limited to one specialty and its advancement of the separate areas of research and pathology in a way that understands the human body from a variety of perspectives.

Located in the middle of Kyushu University Hospital lies a laboratory closed to non-staff. Carrying out daily experiments and verification.

I was influenced by my father who was a physician and by movies and TV programs about disease and medical treatment like Ai to shi o mitsumete (Staring into Love and Death) which developed my strong interest in cancer. When I started studying medicine, the field of hematological disease had the most advance research into cancer, and I also had an interest in hematopoietic neoplasia like leukemia and lymphoma which was a popular area of study. Since then, I have consistently worked with hematology, particularly researching cancer stem cells primarily related to leukemia and lymphoma, and specializing in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as regenerative medicine.

While all of the various cells such as erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets, etc. that compose people's blood cells are created out of the hematopoietic stem cells within bone marrow, the foundation of the composition of cancers also exists in stem cells. The particular feature of our research is to focus not on the overall cancer composition made up of various cell groupings but rather on the cancer stem cells that are source of cancer. Why do cancer stem cells develop and how are they sustained? Elucidating this puzzle and developing new technologies that can eradicate cancer stem cells is the aim of our research. One of our recent big accomplishments was identifying the cell surface molecule TIM-3, a unique protein expressed at a high frequency in acute myelogenous leukemia stem cells. By creating a TIM-3 antibody that recognizes this and by developing technology that can eradicate leukemic stem cells, we are working toward implementation through collaborative research with a pharmaceutical company.

The key to this research course is here!!The key to this research course is here!!

The mission to contribute to humanity The mission to contribute to humanity

Illness provides an important opportunity to obtain the biostudies knowledge that was prepared for us by God. Ultimately intervening in the illness and bringing about a state of normalization based on results obtained through research—I believe this is the greatest goal of medical research and the source of its appeal. Learning about the makeup of the biological entity known as the human being is connected to not only the conquest of illness but also to human existence and fate. This is also a huge factor in making it worthwhile. I believe that all medical researchers, to a greater or lesser extent, are driven by this sort of noble motivation.

Cancer stem cells are "evolution-type cells" that propagate rapidly by adapting to the environment; and, in this research field, for example, we are seeing an expansion in complex biostudies areas that do not fit into the category of the regular "central dogma". In case of cancer, it is possible that metabolic abnormalities incite genome variation through epigenome mutation. In order to make these areas clear, technical tools are currently being developed one after the other, which include single cell genome analysis, mass spec cytometry, a new type computed microscope that gives full locational information of single cells, and so on. In such a fortunately blessed research area, another great part of its appeal is the possibility to conduct research with human specimens.

When one says "medical research", many people immediately think of medical treatment, but it is clear that there is an important need for not only applied research but also for that which covers all levels from the fundamentals to clinical treatment. All medical researchers are confident that we have a mission to "contribute to human being." I, too, am one of those people, and in the future as well, I want to go on sharing the fun and depth of medical research with the next generation.

DAILY SCHEDULEDAILY SCHEDULE


Time-out Session

In the rare evenings when he has time, he retires to his music listening room with a glass of his favorite Bourgogne wine. A rabid audiophile, he enjoys listening to vinyl records from all sorts of genres from classical to jazz, fusion, and pop on this ultra-heavyweight Micro Seiki brand turntable and through his Westlake monitor speakers. His record collection extends to several thousand, and he is also known to purchase rare editions at auctions. In recent years he has also been frequently listening to high resolution digital music. In the rare evenings when he has time, he retires to his music listening room with a glass of his favorite Bourgogne wine. A rabid audiophile, he enjoys listening to vinyl records from all sorts of genres from classical to jazz, fusion, and pop on this ultra-heavyweight Micro Seiki brand turntable and through his Westlake monitor speakers. His record collection extends to several thousand, and he is also known to purchase rare editions at auctions. In recent years he has also been frequently listening to high resolution digital music.

The Teacher's Must-have Items!The Teacher's Must-have Items!

iPad Pro

Purchased right after its release. Always with him for checking emails, etc. It is an especially valuable tool for Professor Akashi when combined with his Apple Pen and digital notes for writing and storing memos during lectures.

Fountain pen

"When coming up with an important idea there is nothing for it but analog"—Professor Akashi has lovingly used a fountain pen since his high school days. His favorite is the one that, he bought with his own money at the age of 25 after becoming a doctor: a Palikan former West Germany fountain pen (pictured at front). Always careful to not lose it, he mainly uses it in the research lab.

Wristwatch

Purchased after returning to Japan from America, an Italian Panerai mechanical chronograph. "Except for when I am sleeping it is almost always on my wrist." In a rugged stainless steel and equipped with a stopwatch. The 30 minute timer, especially, is perfect for timing presentations.

Message to the StudentsMessage to the Students

Strive to increase your skills in self-expression and human interaction

What I sense from dealing with recent students is that they are lacking in presentation and communication skills. For example, one might say that things like someone writing their beau a love letter or asking them out on a date is a once in a lifetime sort of presentation, but recently that sort of thing is done through email and messaging apps, so people have a tendency to try and get by lightly and avoid being emotionally hurt. I feel that the increasing ease of use of communications devices is having a strong negative influence on people's acquisition of the fundamental skills to form bonds with one another. In both the world of medical studies and in other fields of study, too, there are a great many occasions when Japanese students' written prose and language skills are tested, and it is not at all unusual for success or failure to rest on the written side alone. English skills are also important (for native speakers of Japanese), but I would really like to see students increase their opportunities for Japanese speaking and writing using correct and elegant Japanese language and see them work on their skills in self-expression and human interaction.

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