Lectures

Lecture 5

Making sperm in a culture dish

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Name
Takehiko Ogawa, M.D., Ph.D.
(Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine )
Place
Main Office Building Lecture Hall (1F)
Time
13:40-14:20

Male animals, including human males, produce huge number of sperm daily. How could this be possible?

The process that spermatogonial stem cells, founder cells of sperm, differentiate into sperm is called spermatogenesis. It is complicated yet tightly controlled. It also takes long periods. In fact, it takes 35 days and 64 days in case of mice and human, respectively. It is also surprising that the round cells turn into unique shape of sperm in the process.

The history of researches aiming to recapitulate the spermatogenesis in a culture dish dates back nearly a century ago. Although numbers of studies by many researchers have focused on this issue, it remained unachieved. Recently, we have conquered this subject and produced sperm from spermatogonial stem cells in a dish by adopting classical organ culture method. The sperm was functional to produce progeny by micro-insemination. In addition, it became possible to store the testis tissues by freezing.

This culture method could be useful for the study of spermatogenesis as well as for application to male infertility clinics in future.

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Lecture 6

K-Computer: Our Future Predicted by a Supercomputer

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Name
Tadashi Watanabe, Ph.D.
(RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science )
Place
Main Office Building Lecture Hall (1F)
Time
14:30-15:10

Theory, experiment, and the third science, that is the computational science. The supercomputer is an infrastructure for science and engineering to support the computational science. The numerical simulations by supercomputers allow us to make the analysis of very long phenomena like the climate change and the progress of space, to make the safety analysis of nuclear power plant and the analysis of the movement by the earth quake that are impossible to experiment, and to do the crash, combustion and chemical reaction analysis that are very short phenomena. We can say that the numerical simulations by supercomputers will predict our future. The supercomputer with enormous computational power is an indispensable tool to make these numerical simulations. The Japanese government designated the supercomputing technology as one of the key technologies of the national importance. In response, under the initiative of the MEXT, RIKEN, cooperated with FUJITSU, has conducted the development of the K computer with 10 peta-flops (1016 calculations per second) computational speed. In this talk, the supercomputer K and its applications will be introduced.

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Lecture 7

Medical research for human variation on common diseases:
Toward the realization of personalized medicine

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Name
Michiaki Kubo, M.D., Ph.D.
(RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine )
Place
Main Office Building Lecture Hall (1F)
Time
15:20-16:00

Family members resemble each other because genetic information is transmitted from parents to children and to their descendants after them.  The human genetic blueprint, or genome, is composed of approximately 3 billion “letters”, or base pairs, of DNA, and the Human Genome project successfully revealed the whole human genome sequence in 2003.  Although most of these letters are basically same for every individual, about 1 in every 300 letters is different from person to person, generating genetic variations.
Our center elucidates the relationship between these genetic variations and particular traits or specific diseases under the cooperation of many patients all over Japan.  As a result, we have gradually come to be able to identify genes associated with common diseases such as diabetes and cancer, as well as efficacy/adverse reaction of drugs.  In other words, our goal is to scientifically clarify human predisposition to disease or drug responses.  We expect our research will contribute to the realization of personalized medicine which enables us to take more appropriate decision for treatment or prevention of diseases for each and every individual based on their own genetic variations.

In this lecture, I would like to introduce our research activities aiming to make the personalized medicine a reality.

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Lecture 8

Radiation, Genome, and Cancer
- The role of the Cell Innovation Program in society -

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Name
Yoshihide Hayashizaki, M.D., Ph.D.
(RIKEN Omics Science Center)
Place
Main Office Building Lecture Hall (1F)
Time
16:10-16:50

We should have a much better of understanding of the effects of radiation on a human body. After the accident of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the effects of radiation on the human body sparked concern among the public. Unfamiliar terms and concepts such as sievert (Sv) and becquerel (Bq) were used in mass media reports without sufficient explanation. Therefore, the degree of danger was not understood, amplifying the anxiety, and causing undesirable effects, for example, harmful rumors.
After the accident there were many standard values that attracted much attention. The meaning of a standard value is not fully expounded. Therefore, amongst emotional ups and downs of test results, the standard value itself might have changed, contributing to general confusion.
If DNA gets damaged by the external exposure and internal exposure to radiation, the acute or late radiation damage will be encountered. The only way to protect ourselves from radiation is to correctly understand what kind of vital reactions occur in our body exposed to radiation.

RIKEN Omics Science center is a platform which has decoded and analyzed the genetic code of DNA and RNA. Here, I hope to introduce the some of the knowledge about the damage and mutation to DNA in an easy to understand fashion, from the point of view of genetic code analysis.

Environmental substances that might damage DNA (click to enlarge)

Base sequencing facility at RIKEN Omics Science Center (click to enlarge)

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