Foundation

Activities

2008 PARTICIPANTS

maniMani Tomoyasu
The University of Texas at Dallas
 

I participated in the 2008 Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS). Professor Yoichiro Nambu, Professor Makoto Kobayashi and Professor Toshihide Maskawa won the Nobel Prize in Physics and Professor Osamu Shimomura shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. These unprecedented achievements have demonstrated Japanese significant presence in the science and technology among the world. It is such a high honor for me to have been a part of this year’s seminar as one of the representatives from Japan.?
"Research is not the solitary event but the process." As the words of Professor Martin Chalfie (Chemistry Prize 2008) indicate, current scientific research has been on a train of enormous amounts of previous researches and it has encompassed various fields. This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three scientists for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP. It is of great value to young researchers like me who now enter the scientific research because the Nobel Committee highly recognized the importance of basic science and the flow of its research. GFP was discovered as the by-product of isolating aeqorin from Jellyfish (Aequorea aequorea) by Professor Shimomura in a quest for the answer to the fascinating question "Why can some organisms produce light?" This discovery was brought to considerable attention and has been a trigger to one of the greatest development of bioscience, bioluminescence imaging, after Dr. Douglas Prasher (who successfully cloned GFP for the first time), Professor Chalfie and Professor Roger Y. Tsien (Chemistry Prize 2008) have pioneered the utility of GFP and GFP-like proteins. Professor Hans Jornvall (Secretary of the Noble Committee for Physiology or Medicine) told us that the Nobel Prizes are awarded to the research that makes a paradigm shift. The chain of researches by a number of scientists involving fluorescence proteins has actually created a new paradigm and opened a new horizon in contemporary bioscience. Also, I was deeply impressed that Professor Tsien lauded the collaborators in his lecture by stating that we (the laureates) are just the fortunate three among those who contributed to the development of bio-imaging using a series of fluorescent proteins."
All the laureates in natural science fields have achieved their significant works, believing in their own hypothesis and tackling one specific problem. They were not bound to but challenged the existing dogma. They fearlessly adopted a new point of views in highly competitive worlds, which eventually leads to their scientific feats. Among others, I found it most interesting the story of the laureates, Professor Kobayashi and Professor Maskawa. They were trying to find the reason of CP violation. In the course of their close exploration, they found out that the proposed four-quark model failed to explain CP violation. However, after they stopped sticking to the four-quark model, new theory centered on the six-quark model suddenly came to the minds, and they realized that it perfectly worked. This story well demonstrates that a breakthrough will never be made as long as one’s vision is narrowed and restricted by the existing dogma.? It is important to note that they did not simply negate the existing theory. Instead, they switched to their new theory after careful and thorough examination of the existing one.
The laureates emphasized that their works were greatly supported by enthusiastic and supportive mentors, colleague and collaborators. They also told that working with such great people can surely bring our project to higher stage, too. ?Worldwide collaborations are not uncommon in current science. I believe that it becomes more and more important to make a good collaboration with people in different fields of study as well as those in the same field which we are in. It is very fortunate and also has significant impact on me that I have learned such attitudes toward research directly from the laureates as I started my research career in the era of collaborative research. ?
The words, Pioneer and Collaboration, Discovery and Development, are well integrated together in light of the Nobel Prize. It is a new and interesting finding to me because they can be contrasts with one another in some contexts. In his Nobel lecture, Professor Kobayashi put an emphasis on Japanese unique and big contributions to science and the importance of national involvement in research. His words have influenced me and made me think about how I want to be engaged in scientific research in the future as being Japanese. Currently being educated and trained in the United States to become a researcher, I believe that they way I will be involved in research can be critically important to me along with my career. In closing, I would like to express my best and sincere gratitude to the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan for providing me with the great opportunity to participate in this year’s SIYSS. By the same token, special thanks go to all the people working for the seminar, especially the SIYSS coordinators. This unparalleled experience has given me great intellectual stimuli for further research activities. I hope putting my best resource and efforts to scientific research will lead me to another chance for being in such an honourable place in the future.

page top