SUZUKI, Emiko D. Med., Associate Professor

Unvarnished researcher with solid expertise in electron microscopy

“I try many different things but always end up doing what I like. I think it’s OK to work like this,” nods Assoc. Prof. Emiko SUZUKI in her electron microscope laboratory.

Fascinated with observation
Dr. Suzuki says she forgets the time when she works with an electron microscope. Her research background is in morphology. Her desk is decorated with numerous photographs of natural landscape and plants. Ever since her childhood, she has been interested in animals and plants around her. Starting postgraduate studies, she was first attracted to the forms of living things she observed using a microscope.
Research in the doctoral program strongly convinced her of the possibility of morphology. The electron microscopic observation of mouse liver cells as part of her research led her to hypothesize that liver cells differentiate as they come into contact with endothelial cells. In those days, however, as a graduate student she did not have the means to prove the hypothesis that photographs were suggesting right before her eyes.
Several years later, biochemists published research results that supported the same hypothesis. They reported interaction between endothelial cells and liver cells triggered by the secretory factor. “I knew it,” she said. It was the happiest moment in her research life.
Expanding research
Morphology itself cannot prove everything, but precise observation leads to pioneering hypotheses. As Dr. Suzuki continued to work, totally absorbed in what she liked, she began to receive an increasing number of offers of joint research from other researchers who highly valued her expertise in electron microscopy. She began to feel that she is offering key contributions to many international projects tackling basic questions on developmental and cell biology. She has enjoyed such joint researches, and observed smooth progress in research when it is pursued from various angles and with different methods of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and so on. Through the broad range of joint researches, she found interesting morphological phenomena suggesting important hypotheses to be proven.
She came to the NIG when she began to feel urge to demonstrate these hypotheses by herself. Assuming the position of running her laboratory, Dr. Suzuki has begun a new chapter in her researcher life, with an assistant professor well versed in molecular biology she has invited to the laboratory. She considers everyone who comes to her lab as her treasured partners in joint research, regardless of their different statuses.
Keeping her own rhythm
Dr. Suzuki is separated from her family in Tokyo on weekdays due to her work at the NIG in Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture. She has never felt that being a woman has been an obstacle to her career, although she did slow down when her children were still small. Now that her children have grown up, she is totally “into” her research in an excellent environment. She has found a place to do what she wants to do? demonstrating hypotheses found on morphology. Moreover, at the NIG, she has the opportunity to meet botanical researchers with whom she had no contact before. Her sphere of research is expanding. “I’m inseparable from my electron microscope,” she says. She wishes to continue her research at her own rhythm, solidly anchored on her observation expertise.
(Interviewed by Leave a nest Co.,Ltd on Sep. 27, 2007)

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