[Alphabetical order]

Orie Arakawa, Technician
Email: orie.arakawa at

I am originally from Okinawa and I am very honored to be working in this wonderful place in my home Okinawa. I have worked on chromosome segregation using yeast as a technician, and I have been fascinated by the “cells” that compose all living things. I am excited to start as a member of Meitinger Unit and to learn something new about cells. Personally, I like bird watching and sleeping, and I am especially happy to spend time with my husband and newborn daughter.

Md Hazrat Belal, Post-Doctoral Researcher
Email: md.belal at

Hi everyone! My name is Belal; I was born in Bangladesh. I completed my undergraduate and master's degrees in Biochemistry at Rajshahi University, Bangladesh. I acquired my Ph.D. degree in medical science from Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan, in 2021. I then continued the research for another year at the same university, in Prof. Saitsu lab, before joining the Cell Proliferation and Gene Editing Unit of Prof. Franz Meitinger lab at OIST in November 2022. I have a massive interest in the molecular biology of human genetic diseases, particularly in analyzing how altered molecular pathways contribute to disease causation. In my PhD research, I was working to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders that are caused by gene mutation. Here in Dr. Meitinger lab,I will study cell and cancer biology with a focus on mechanisms that control cell proliferation and maintain genome stability. This is my first   time in Okinawa! I am really enjoying my stay here in Okinawa. I desire to explore Okinawa's stunning beauty with my wife and our expecting child.

Muhammad Hamzah, Ph.D. Student
Email: muhammad.hamzah at

I completed my master's degree in medical sciences and my previous research involved establishment of a CRISPR screening system to discover pluripotency regulators in iPS cells. I am excited to do my research in the Meitinger Unit to investigate cancer-specific vulnerability using cutting-edge genetic and imaging technologies. I enjoy the nature here in Okinawa and hope to explore it more!

Junho Lee, Ph.D. Student
Email: junho.lee at

Hi, my name is Jun. I am originally from Korea, but I have been living in Japan for 18 years. I was studying in Osaka before coming to OIST. Both my undergraduate and master’s thesis at Osaka University were regarding the genome instability of a mammalian cell line that is used in monoclonal antibodies production. I am very interested in the biopharmaceutical area, and I came to OIST to learn new knowledge that can lead to the area. Especially I am fascinated by cancer research, which I believe is one of the most essential fundamental research areas for the conventional and the future Biopharmacology. Thus, I am very excited to continue research for my PhD thesis in Cell Proliferation and Gene Editing Unit to learn about the cell proliferation and cancer biology. I am really enjoying and am excited about my life in Okinawa! I love to play all kinds of sports, to explore new places, and to try new food with my wife.

Esther Ng, Post-Doctoral Researcher
Email: feng.esther at

I am originally from Malaysia and have been living in Japan for a little more than 4 years now. This is my first time in Okinawa! Exploring new places is one of my hobbies so I am looking forward to what Okinawa has to offer. My previous research revolves around the proliferation and migration of tongue cancer cells. I finished my PhD recently in September 2022 and I am very excited to start my new research journey here at Meitinger Unit in OIST, and learn all about gene editing!

Hitomi Ohtaki, Research Unit Administrator
Email: hitomi.ohtaki at

I am originally from Chiba Prefecture and have lived in Okinawa for a little over 10 years. I have been working at OIST as a Research Unit Administrator (RUA) for almost all of that time. I love this job supporting the administrative part of the laboratory and am very excited to be a member of the Meitinger Unit. I enjoy eating, drinking, and traveling in my spare time.

Anna Pavlovska, Ph.D. Student
Email: anna.pavlovska at

Hello! I am from Ukraine and have been living in Okinawa for over a year. Before joining OIST, I delved into the fields of microbiology, plant genetics, and RNA biochemistry. However, I discovered my true passion in cancer research. What captivates me most in my work is the intricate beauty of cells and the molecular mechanisms that govern their life. I am driven by the hope that my research will make a meaningful impact on people's lives in the future. In my free time, I enjoy reading books, playing my lyre harp, and immersing myself in nature.

Carmen Sparr, Technician
Email: carmen.sparr at

I am from Austria and finished my master’s recently in October 2022. My master thesis project revolved around synthetic lethal effects in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells. I’m excited to join the Meitinger Unit at OIST and learn more about the molecular mechanisms of cell division in normal and cancer cells and gene editing. It is my first time in Japan, so I’m looking forward to exploring Okinawa and the mainland and discover many beautiful places/eat delicious food. Personally, I like hiking, skiing, playing volleyball and reading.