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Masanori TAKAIRA

Portrait Visiting period April to July 2018
Visiting university University of Utah
Visiting country and region Salt Lake City, USA

Content of the study program

Thanks to the Super Global University (SGU) Project, I was able to undertake a short period of study abroad, for three months, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the United States of America. I was accepted into the laboratory of Prof. Okano in the Department of Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and pursued research while communicating with local students and post-docs.

Study results

At my destination, the University of Utah, I used the techniques of cell-sheet engineering, which is a type of regenerative medicine, to produce layered chondrocyte sheets. Because I had never dealt with chondrocytes in my research in Japan, I undertook this research under the guidance of Prof. Okano and the local post-docs. I succeeded on this occasion, in layering sheets highly filled with chondrocytes in a short period of time, by using a centrifuge. I think this technique will be possible to apply to other cells, and would be happy if its use can be realized in the medical field in the future, to greatly improve the QOL of even just one person.

My experience abroad

I have previously had opportunities to go overseas on trips, but this was my first experience of staying abroad for such a long period of time. Salt Lake City in Utah is an extremely safe place in America, and is a location with a similar natural environment and climate as Japan, making it easy to live there. The accommodation that I booked with Airbnb had a shared kitchen and bathroom, and although I was bewildered at first by the cultural differences with the people from other countries, I gradually acclimatized while communicating with them in poor English. At the weekends, I went camping with the students from my lab, took trips to Manhattan and San Francisco, and generally enjoyed American culture.

Influence on my future career

Through this short period of study abroad, my desire to work overseas in the future has been strengthened. Several times during this period, I became frustrated at my inability to say what I wanted to in English, and I felt the need to learn the language to a higher level than before. Not only do I want to learn more English to become able to express myself, I also feel that it will enable me to get better acquainted and more involved with my colleagues. I would like to increase my English skill level further, and secure some time while I am a postgraduate to study abroad once again. I have been motivated by the high-level people I met abroad, and want to increase my own level further.

Other comments

I am sincerely grateful for the funding I received on this occasion under the SGU system to support studying abroad. Mrs. Ikeda, who was in charge of the study abroad, offered me advice when deciding upon accommodation and gave me tips that proved useful for living overseas; he helped me a great deal. Thanks to the financial assistance I received, I was able to live a stable life as an exchange student. Studying abroad was very tough, as I had to adjust my language and lifestyle to match the local ways, while at the same time trying to achieve my own goals. However, by putting myself in that environment, I personally felt that I was able to grow in various ways not only in terms of my studies.