Metallomics wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our authors so we’d like to get to know them a bit better and discover the people behind the science. We’ve just published a tutorial review by Toshiyuki Fukada and Taiho Kambe; they were kind enough to answer my questions and you can read their responses below.
Their tutorial review will be published in our Metallomics in Japan themed issue this summer and I’m pleased to let blog readers know that we’ll be featuring the paper on the front cover of that issue so keep your eyes peeled!
Molecular and genetic features of zinc transporters in physiology and pathogenesis
Toshiyuki Fukada and Taiho Kambe
What initially inspired you to become a scientist?
Toshiyuki Fukada: I grew up in Shizuoka prefecture, where I enjoyed nature: ocean, rivers, mountains, and Mt. Fuji. These natural circumstances during childhood definitely stimulated my interest in nature. And I cannot forget two teachers, Ms Tomiko Maruo in my elementary school and Ms Naoko Makimoto in my high school, who inspired me to choose science as a career.
Taiho Kambe: When I was a boy, I was fascinated by the wonders of fermentation. Microorganisms make various delicious foods! Yoghurt, cheese, miso, soy source, etc. During my undergraduate study I was greatly enchanted by biochemistry thus I chose to pursue a doctorate in this field.
What do you love about your job?
TF: Scientific activities can generate creativity, and the possibility of the infinite.
TK: It is the privilege of scientists to search for truth, find something new, invent a novel machine, and make new effective medicine etc. I love this point in my job. Zinc research is a new research field and there are many things to be solved in the future.
Where do you see your research heading next?
TF: Resolving the structure of mammalian zinc transporters, and the mechanisms of how zinc transporters are activated or inactivated.
TK: We are very interested in when, where, and how zinc transporters monitor zinc concentrations and control the influx and efflux of zinc, and when, where, and how zinc-containing proteins capture and dissociate zinc mediated by zinc transporters in the correct location.
What’s hot at the moment/going to be next big thing in your field?
TF: Since I have my research background in the investigation of intracellular signal transduction, I am keen to know the mechanisms of how each of the zinc transporters determines their biological specificities to control intracellular signaling pathways. That should be the next big subject.
TK: Recently, increased evidence has revealed the importance of zinc in physiological and patho-physiological functions. A number of efficient Zn-related drugs will be developed, and will contribute to human health.
What do enjoy doing in your spare time?
TF: In my spare time, my passion is Aikido, a Japanese martial art. I have enjoyed training for over 25 years. I also enjoy listening to classical music and visiting art museums: I am a fan of Wagner for music, Rembrandt and Taro Okamoto for paintings.
TK: Hiking in Kyoto city with my family. There are many temples and shrines in Kyoto city because Kyoto has a long history as an old capital in Japan.
What would you be if you weren’t a scientist, what would you be?
TF: I would open and teach at my own dojo.
TK: I had belonged to baseball teams for 12 years since I was 5 years old. So, if I weren’t a scientist, I would like to be a baseball player.
Collaborations form a large part of modern scientific research. Which scientist, past or present, would you really like to work with?
TF: Physicians and medical scientists, since I am interested in the roles of zinc and zinc transporters in health and disease. Dr Shiro Ikegawa and Andrea Superti-Furga are the scientists whom I really would like to work again.
TK: That is somewhat a difficult question. Since zinc research field ranges widely, I would like to work with anyone in any field who can help to solve any questions involved in zinc. I think the proverb “Four eyes see more than two” holds true for zinc research very much.
If you could solve any scientific problem in any field, what would it be?
TF: Preventing desertification in the world, if I could.
TK: I would like to find and develop safe and cheap energy resources. As you know, a terrible earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Now we have serious problems with nuclear reactors, which have caused severe electric energy shortages in Tokyo. That presents a major challenge.
It’s the International Year of Chemistry – what one discovery or development would you like to highlight?
TF: The Light Emitting Diode, it has changed our lifestyles.
TK: The lithium-ion battery, which will contribute more to resolution of social problems concerning resources, environment and energy faced by human beings.