Dr. Hitoshi Nakamoto visited three top universities in India
Dr. Hitoshi Nakamoto
I, a faculty member of department of biochemistry and molecular biology, visited top three universities in India from Oct 25th to Nov 5th. The purpose for this trip was to discuss about research collaboration and student exchange between Saitama University and these universities in India.
First university that I went to was Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) which is one of the oldest and the most highly ranked IITs in India. I visited Prof. Tapan K. Chaudhuri who is the head of the School of Biological Sciences. Prof. Chaudhuri is a biophysicist who has been working on the molecular chaperones Hsp60 (GroEL) and Hsp90. We met each other before at international conferences. He was extremely busy as the head, but tried to spend time with me as much as possible. I was interested in lectures in IIT, and Prof. Chaudhuri kindly invited me to attend one of his lectures. He did not use PowerPoint, but used blackboard. I felt that his lecture was logical, and easy to understand even for a Japanese student. Students were interrupting his talk by asking questions, which I felt was very nice. The campus was huge, and you can find everything on campus such as student’s dormitories, professor/staff houses, banks and so on. School busses were running for convenience of students on campus. Prof. Chaudhuri always used his car to move from one place to another on campus. I had a chance to listen to research presentations by his students and had a discussion about their study. After the presentation, Prof. Chaudhuri took us to lunch together at a restaurant of a guest house on campus. Of course, we ate various curries. After that, I gave a departmental seminar entitled ‘Uniformity and variability of molecular chaperones in (cyano)bacteria‘. In the evening on the day before departure from Delhi, Prof. Chaudhuri took me to a restaurant for dinner with his wife. I found out that his wife is also a researcher and both of them lived in Japan for research. I was so glad to know that they enjoyed their life in Japan very much, making many good Japanese friends. Prof. Chaudhuri showed a strong interest in research collaboration with us. So, we decided to apply for a JSPS bilateral collaboration research program.
Then, I flied to Bangalore to visit Indian Institute of Science (IISc). IISc is also known as the Tata Institute. It was established more than 100 years ago, and ranked as the number one university in India based on the Times Higher Education. I visited Prof. Utpal Tatu whom I met before at an international meeting. He is also an author for a review article in a special issue ‘Molecular Chaperones as Drug Targets’ of Current Pharmaceutical Design which I and prof. Hiroyuki Osada edited. On the first day when I arrived at IISc, he took me to his house which is located at countryside. The area where he lives appears to be specially developed for rich people. The IISc campus appears to be even larger than that of IIT Delhi although the number of students may be less than 5,000. There are a lot of trees on campus and I felt as if I were walking in a wood. His lab is extremely well-equipped. He has two (or three) mass spectrometers and there is at least one research staff who takes care of these mass specs. I had a chance to listen to each student’s research project in his lab. I also introduced them Saitama University and our research. Prof. Tatu told me that IISc used to have only graduate students, but recently started to accept undergraduates. His lab has showed the important role of molecular chaperones in the survival of parasites such as malaria parasite. I asked him to send me a plasmid containing a gene encoding the Hsp90 from malaria parasite.
Finally I went to Hyderabad. The main purpose for this visit is to attend the 8th International Conference “Photosynthesis and Hydrogen Energy Research for Sustainability”. There are many foreigners (from ～30 countries) including Japanese as well as many people in India. I gave an invited talk entitled ‘Molecular chaperones and stress tolerance in cyanobacteria: Role of chaperone paralogs/cognates in the evolution of cyanobacteria’. Several students of the university of Hyderabad as well as professors/researchers asked me questions concerning my talk. During the conference, we went on an excursion to Golconda Fort which was built on a hilltop in the year 1143 AD. I visited several laboratories of this university in the evening. They are well equipped. I was surprised that I had to take off my shoes in order to enter into a microbiology laboratory. I felt their sincere attitude towards research. I introduced our university to students in the labs. Quite a few students showed interests to visit Saitama university for further study. On the day when I left for Japan, I attended a campus tour at 6:30 am which was organized for conferees who left early. Only I was attending the walking tour. However, 6 students took care of me, taking me to see ‘Mushroom Rock,’ On the way, we saw wild peacocks. I enjoyed talking with all these students. We walked more than two hours, but I knew that we walked only small part of the campus. So the campus is really huge although the total number of students are only ～5,000. I was asked by a professor of this university what kind of impression I had after staying for several days, and my answer was ‘incredible!!’.