Tomohisa Toda - Week 11 (2020/03/09-15)

Tomohisa's scientific work in one sentence

Our laboratory aims at elucidating biological links between the fundamental mechanism underlying the long-term maintenance of neural identity/plasticity and effects of pathological aging on it, especially focusing on the cell type-specific nuclear architecture.

For more information click here.

Short CV

Highest Level of education: PhD in Neuroscience, 2011, The University of Tokyo

Actual Position: Group Leader "Nuclear architecture in neural plasticity and aging", DZNE-Dresden

What are - in your opinion - your best publications?

Toda T, Hsu JY, Linker SB, Hu L, Schafer ST, Mertens J, Jacinto FV, Hetzer MW & Gage FH. “Nup153 interacts with Sox2 to enable bimodal gene regulation and maintenance of neural progenitor cells.” Cell Stem Cell, 21, 5, 618-634 (2017)

Toda T, Shinmyo Y, Duong TAD, Masuda K & Kawasaki H. “An essential role of SVZ progenitors in cortical folding in gyrencephalic mammals.” Scientific Reports, 6:29578. (2016)

Toda T, Homma D, Tokuoka H, Hayakawa I, Sugimoto Y, Ichinose H & Kawasaki H.  “Birth regulates the initiation of sensory map formation through serotonin signaling.” Developmental Cell, 27, 32-46. (2013)

What are your most important prizes and memberships?

ERC starting grant (EAGER) DZNE, 2019
The Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2018
Research Fellowship for Research Abroad from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2015

Society for Neuroscience
The Japan Neuroscience Society

5 questions about research - past, present, future

1. What are your primary tasks and responsibilities in your actual position?
I have started my own laboratory last year, and spent about one year to set up the lab. Thanks to the great support from many people, our lab is now up and running. My primary tasks are to support/advice my lab members, to take care of house-keeping works, and to get additional grants. In my spare time, I do pilot experiments by myself to find next seeds.

2. What is it that gives you pleasure and/or satisfaction the most?
Observing unexpected results and find novel possibilities/theories. I also do like to see that my lab members propose to try new experiments or take responsibilities by themselves and when it works. This is very different from the post-doc stage, which mainly focusing on our pure scientific interests.

3. Which research question(s) affects you at the moment? What is its social significance?
The main questions in my mind have not been changed very much since my undergrad. Why does our brain develop in a specific temporal manner? After brain development, how do we maintain our brain function and plasticity over 80 years, without replacing neurons in most of brain regions? These primitive questions still attract me to work in science. I would like to understand how these robust temporal regulations are organized to achieve normal brain development and healthy brain aging at molecular/cellular levels. I strongly believe that understanding these fundamental mechanisms will provide significant insights to find novel therapeutic means to treat psychiatric diseases or age-related neurodegenerative disease. Also doing “interesting science” will inspire the next generation who will lead science in the upcoming decades, therefore I am hopeful that our science is interesting enough to attract those kids.

4. Which publication influenced you the most?
It is not by single publications, but I like the series of discovery about ocular dominance plasticity and the effect of maternal cares on epigenetic regulations. Both of them provide novel insights about the interaction between environmental cues and genes, which are fundamental process in brain development and plasticity.

5. What do you like most about AMPro? What are your particular plans within the collaboration?
Its interdisciplinarity is excellent. My expertise lies within neuroscience, but today, we need interdisciplinary approaches to conduct medical research. AMPro makes it easy to talk with people from different fields, especially epigenetics and metabolics to start new collaborations. Our lab has just joined, so hope it goes longer!

5 questions beyond research

1. What are your experiences with reconciliation of family or private and working life?
This is the most challenging part for new group leaders. To be honest, I do not prioritize so much about life-work balance and I spent a lot of my time at work because I need to get so much things done before starting science. I do care about my family, which is the most important point I learned from my post-doc mentor. But, at the same time, I do care about my lab and lab members.

2. What is the experience during your PhD you will remember all your life?
When I found a new phenomenon, in which the birthing process triggers sensory circuit formation of pups to adapt environmental changes from the inside of mother to the external world. The birthing process is the most dramatic environmental change in mammalian life, but it was not clear if this environmental change regulates brain development. Since then, I explored underlying molecular mechanisms and found that serotonin signaling is a mediator. I really enjoyed the process, and but it was quite tough experience too. Looking back from now, If I failed to find the underlying mechanism, I may not be here, so it was a turning point in my short scientific carrier so far.

3. Which book and/or movie has lately affected you the most?
Not particularly these days. I am bit saturated to find something new. But,” Brave new world” by A. Huxley is still my favorite since my junior high school.

4. What are your hobbies?
Watch rugby games and play rugby with my son. Try new beers.

5. What is your favorite color, season and/or football (or other sports) club?
Green & blue, Summer-Autumn, and Japan national rugby team.