Table Speech

My Study Life in Japan

October 7, 2020

Ms. Wang Xinshuang
Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and
Dental University Doctoral Course Yoneyama Scholar

 I was born in Dalian City, China, and graduated from Dalian Medical University in June 2016. I have long wanted to become a researcher and decided to pursue my academic career abroad after completing my undergraduate studies. When I was a sophomore, I chose Japan as my study abroad destination for two reasons. First, I was fascinated by the Japanese language and culture. I’m a big fan of Japanese anime and found the Japanese language exotic and attractive as I enjoyed listening to voice actors and actresses. I started to study Japanese in China from a teacher who had lived in Japan for many years. I was advised to read novels by one of the founders of modern Japanese literature, Sōseki Natsume, which inspired me to live and experience the essence of Japanese culture. The second reason was because Japan has the world’s leading medical care system as well as basic medical sciences. I could not think of any other country where I could acquire knowledge and skills required to become a researcher.

 I came to Japan in October 2016 as a research student and was enrolled in the doctoral course at the Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University in April 2017. I feel so blessed to receive generous support and guidance from my supervisor and faculty members who put me ahead of themselves and make sure my research goes smoothly.

 To my great joy, I was chosen as Rotary Yoneyama Scholar for this Rotary Year, with Mr. Yui as my host counselor. Thanks to the scholarship, I am able to dedicate my time for research without financial concerns and I could co-publish my research results in a science journal FEBS Letters. I am now a fourth-year doctoral student of a pharmacology and neurobiology lab and focus on microglia cell which is an immune system of the brain. I conduct research on whether blockade of microglial voltage-gated calcium channel Cav1.2 exacerbates several neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease. As we know, Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurological condition characterized by increasing memory loss, inability to perform daily tasks and eventually dementia. Unfortunately, this fatal condition currently has no cure. Activated microglia perform both detrimental and beneficial actions in neural disorders. Pro-inflammatory M1 microglia promote secondary brain damage while anti-inflammatory M2 microglia promote repair and regeneration of the brain tissue. Microglia also has high capacity for phagocytic removal of apoptotic cells and debris, which is believed to be beneficial as clearance of tissue debris is critical in reconstructing and reorganizing neuronal network after a brain injury. Our research lab generated microglia-specific Cav1.2 knockdown mice to study how it could impact microglia activation into M1 and M2 as well as its phagocytic removal capacity. We hope to apply our research findings to examine the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Not being a practicing doctor, I am not in direct contact with patients. Yet as a medical researcher, I want to save lives and improve the health of patients by promoting research into pathology and develop new treatments and therapies for intractable neurological diseases.

 I have another dream which is to be involved in education and share my knowledge and expertise on neurosurgery to those who are interested in becoming researchers. To this end, I want to broaden my perspective and be fully versed in different topics and issues. There is a saying in China “Learning is like paddling upstream.” You will flow backward unless you keep pushing forward. I must continue to make tireless efforts and try to stay on top of things. I believe diligence is not a goal in itself but rather a pro-active mindset to explore and embrace new opportunities.

 As a Rotary Yoneyama Scholar, I am now blessed with many new encounters that will surely expand my horizons and help redefine my life’s purpose. I could meet and talk with Rotarians who are leading figures from all walks of life, thanks to Tokyo RC Regular Meetings that resumed this July after being suspended due to the spread of novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). I was also excited to meet and interact with other Yoneyama Scholars from different countries including Laos and Myanmar, thanks to Director of Yoneyama Tokyo Alumni Mr. Liang who went out of his way to organize a gathering in this difficult time.

 I recall the speech made by former Yoneyama Scholar Ms. An at the first orientation. She told us “what Yoneyama Scholarship offers us is not only financial support. It will open doors to so many other amazing opportunities that go beyond our expectations.” Now I can see what she really meant.

 I am relieved to say I passed the doctoral examination this September and will get the degree next March. I hope to get a position as a researcher in Japan and work tirelessly to promote happiness and wellbeing of people in this country.