Q: What attracted you to the field of autophagy?
I joined the autophagy field in 1997, when autophagy was still a minor
field in cell biology. What attracted me is that Dr. Ohsumi has
isolated autophagy mutants and cloned several autophagy genes, but
their functions were all unknown. In addition, the fact that autophagy
is conserved in many eukaryotes was another important factor.
Q: What do you consider to be the most exciting recent discovery in autophagy?
Personally, I am excited that we can now understand the evolution of
autophagy and ATG genes in detail because the genomes of many
organisms (not only typical model organisms) have been uncovered.
Identification of the function of each ATG gene (e.g., ATG2 and ATG9)
is also exciting.
Q: What is the career achievement you are most proud of?
It is definitely that I discovered Dr. Ohsumi when I was doing my PhD
in a department of internal medicine. This is my most important
discovery in my research career. The second most important achievement
may be the discovery of the Atg12 system. That keeps me in this field.
Q: Why do you think networks like WIA are beneficial?
Of course this kind of networking (both online and onsite) is
important to help each other and not to focus too much on our own
research. We should enjoy other people's research as well, even if it
is not directly related to our own. (but the time of online meetings
is not very convenient for Asian people).