H28年度東北大学総長賞を受賞したMROZOWSKA PAULINA SANDRAさんのインタビューをお送りいたします。（写真：黒田チカ賞授賞式 2017年3月）
Can you describe your research theme?
During my time at Tohoku University I’ve been studying how proteins are transported inside the epithelial cells under the supervision of Mitsunori Fukuda. The characteristic feature of these type of cells is that their outer membrane is divided into two distinct domains with different composition of proteins and lipids – basolateral domain, which is in contact with adjacent cells, and the free apical domain. To create these domains, the cell must segregate its membrane proteins. They are packed into lipid vesicles and transported to their destination site. The transport of these vesicles is tightly regulated and any defects in its function may have disastrous consequences for the function of the whole cell. The regulation od vesicular transport is accomplished through the function of small proteins called Rab GTPases. They are often referred to as “molecular switches”, because, through the exchange of GTP for GDP molecule and vice versa, they can be switched on and off, allowing to adjust particular steps of transport. In human cells there are over 60 different types of Rab GTPases and a lot about them is still unknown. The main goal of my research has been to characterize which of Rab GTPases are needed for transport of proteins to the apical membrane. I not only successfully identified the regulators of apical trafficking, but also in the process made a surprising discovery that the regulation of protein transport differed considerably between different culturing conditions. This discovery was interesting to many researchers, who until now used different culturing models interchangeably. My results indicated that the data obtained from studying one model cannot be extrapolated to describe the other.
Which events impressed you most in your school life?
When it comes to impressions, it’s not just the school life I need to talk about, but Japan in general. Coming here to study was a huge decision for me. Everything was new, different customs, the language, the people... To fit into Japanese society, I had to understand Japanese culture and way of thinking, and do my best to adopt it. It wasn’t always easy. In Fukuda research group I was the only foreigner and, as I learnt, the first foreigner professor Fukuda has ever accepted. Whenever I tried to ask why he was rejecting all non-Japanese applicants, but had chosen to accept me, he used to say that I don’t feel like a foreigner at all and my working culture is very Japanese. So I think I made a pretty good job with blending in. Japanese students are very hard working and dedicated to their research, so I believe learning and adopting these qualities has made me a better researcher for the years to come. Apart from work, I really enjoyed our lab’s drinking parties. We always used to go for traditional Japanese food, which I think is amazing and if I came here as a mere tourist, I would have never had an opportunity to try it.
What is your future goal?
I’ve spent at Tohoku University four years, first as a doctoral student and then as Assistant professor, but this time, sadly, has come to an end. I’m actually writing this on a plane going back to Poland. I haven’t been in my home country for over one year and a half, so, even though it’s really sad to say goodbye to Japan, I’m excited to see my friends and family again. I will spend a month there, which will be very busy, because I’m having my wedding to organize. After that I’m moving to another continent again, this time America. I’ve got a postdoctoral position at Stanford University in Suzanne Pfeffer’s lab starting from May. There I will spend the next three years, after which I hope to finally return to Poland for good. I would love to set up my own research group in Poland, where I would combine the best of what I’ve learnt from doing research in Japan and in America. Polish students are very smart and well educated, but they lack dedication and discipline of Japanese students. I hope to teach and cultivate these qualities in them.
A Message from PAULINA.
Dear students of Tohoku University, the fact that you are studying at such a great University already shows that you are smart and capable. All you need to add to it is a little bit of boldness. What I’ve noticed during my years in Japan is that Japanese students tend to dislike change. They often spend all of their University years working in the same laboratories and after graduation they stay in one company for the rest of their life. It really inhibits their personal growth. They should go out of their comfort zone more. Really, the best things you can do for yourselves is to learn English and go study abroad. I cannot stress enough how valuable experience it is. Not only it allows you to gain the language skills, but also to learn about other cultures and see your own country thorough different perspective. English has become a lingua franca, a global language. It allows you to communicate with everyone, regardless of where you are and who you speak to. It’s kind of like a superpower, isn’t it? Master it and, I promise, you will live a richer life with less limits.
MROZOWSKA PAULINA SANDRA （ポーランド出身）
|東北大学大学院 生命科学研究科 助教（研究特任） 着任