Voice of a Researcher

Hear from our researchers about the type of research activities they participate in, and reasons why they work at the Computational Biology Research Center.

Kentaro Tomii Kentaro TOMII
Leader, Cellular Systems Analysis Team
Born in Hyogo, 1970
Completed Research Course at the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University.
I decided to join the CBRC after considering my research project and resource investment.
®° First, I would like to ask you how you came about joining the CBRC.

It was in 2000, just before the establishment of the CBRC. I was discussing the three-dimensional structure of protein, which was my research theme at that time, with former associate professor Akiyama (former director of the Center) in the laboratory of the graduate school. He said, °»We will be establishing the CRBC soon. Why don't you come along? It would be a great research center of bioinformatics.°… This sounded fascinating to me.

At the time, I was thinking about my future and career after my Post-doctorate position. I thought about whether I should continue my research at the university or join the CBRC, considering my research plan and resources to invest. Consequently, I made the decision to join the CBRC.

I've been able to continue my research in an excellent environment.
®° Could you tell us a little more about your decision to join the CBRC?

The key point of my decision was whether I could continue my research. I was, and still am, studying the sequence, structure and functions of proteins. I wanted to continue this research after I finished my graduate course. I was also thinking about how to best continue the research and the balancing of such resources as time and effort.

Of course, I knew it would not be easy to continue my research. For example, even at the university, I might not be able to focus purely on my preferred area of research. Post-doctorate researchers might be asked to do any type of research under the direction of the laboratory team head.

Although the center wasn't yet established at that time, I had the expectation that the CBRC would not limit my research. Having the opportunity to perform my research in such an excellent environment with great computational facilities appealed greatly me.

I have access to feedback and advice from various viewpoints.
®° When you finally joined the CBRC, did you find your decision to be the right one?

Absolutely. I've been able to continue my own research just as I had expected. Of course, I have more responsibility for doing research in a way that I like. There is severe competition to prove that my research theme is significant. Doing research at my own discretion makes my responsibility to the project large, but the advantage of doing research in this environment outweighs that.

Speaking of the environment, the CBRC is a wonderful environment not only for its facilities, but also for its people. There are many researchers from various fields at the CBRC. Some researchers work on the same or similar research themes, but take different approaches and come from completely different viewpoints. The researchers interact with each other and sometimes gain unexpected insight from these discussions. They have access to a wide variety of feedback and advice in the course of their research. The CBRC is a place for researchers to really develop themselves.

My research is inspired by activities in the United States.
®° What is your current research organization?

I'm now a member of the Sequence Analysis Team and I'm developing FORTE, a tool for protein structure prediction. FORTE, which stands for Fold Recognition Technique, is a tool to identify a candidate protein that can be used as a template for the construction of three-dimensional models of query proteins. It's open to the public (http://www.cbrc.jp/forte), and I'm working on improving the tool.

I stayed at UC Berkley in the United States a while back, and many projects centering around genome research are in progress in the US. Not only research institutes, but private companies are also involved in this nationwide activity. Research institutes and companies are competing fiercely to reach the goal of 'reading' the genome at low cost. I was inspired by this, and I'd like to make my own research achievements at the CBRC.

Those who would like to utilize and take advantage of this wonderful environment are encouraged to join us.
®° What type of researchers would you recommend to join the CBRC?

I would say, those who would like to take advantage of the environment of the CBRC. As I said, the advantage of the CBRC is that there are a wide variety of researchers here. People who can accept the opinions of others amenably and utilize them for their research are encouraged to join us.

On the other hand, the CBRC would not be the right place for those who want to do research alone. I respect that style of research, but if you want to join the CBRC, then you should be prepared to actively collaborate and interact with other researchers. I believe that this is one of the major advantages of the CBRC.

The CBRC is an excellent environment with advanced computer facilities and an interactive research atmosphere. If you fully utilize this environment, you'll be able to make your research fruitful. If this applies to you, we welcome you to join us.

ʮInterview :14th Jan. 2009
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