[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.

Zoran Gavrilov, Research Intern (April 6 - July 6, 2023)
Email: zoran.gavrilov at

Hello everyone! I am a Master of Pharmacy and I come from North Macedonia. My main interests are Molecular Biology, Genetics and Pharmacology. I recently joined the Meitinger Unit as an intern and would like to gain more lab experience and knowledge in cell proliferation but also gene editing because I am interested in gene editing tools and gene therapy in general. I like traveling, exploring new places, eating, experiencing new cultures etc. I am very excited and looking forward to explore Okinawa, the mainland and meet new people.

Hamzah Muhammad, PhD rotation student (May 1 - August 31, 2023)
Email: muhammad.hamzah at

Hello, my name is Hamzah, and I am originally from Indonesia. I completed my master's degree in medical sciences from the University of Tsukuba in September 2021 and worked for some time in a research institute and biopharma company in between my studies. My previous research involved generating reporter cells and coupling it with a CRISPR screening system to discover potential negative regulators of pluripotency acquisition in iPS cells. I am eager to do research at the intersection of genetic technologies, cell biology, and biomedicine and am very excited to do a rotation here in the Meitinger Unit and learn more about cell division and cancer-specific mechanisms. My hobbies are playing basketball and exploring nature with my family, which I hope I can enjoy here during my stay at OIST!

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 worked at OIST as a Research Unit Administrator (RUA) for almost all 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, Research Intern (February 3, 2023 - )
Email: anna.pavlovska at

I am a master's student from Ukraine majoring in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. It is my third internship for the last 2 years. My bachelor's thesis was about nucleic acids sensing pathways in lung adenocarcinoma cell line. Since childhood, I dreamed of studying the nature of diseases and I was always interested in the molecular biology of cancer. I am so happy to work in Meitinger Unit as a research intern and communicate with great people. Also, I love Asian culture and hiking a lot.

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.