Maria Paglione (JSPS research fellow from November 2021 to February 2022)

I obtained my MSc in Biology at the University of Naples “Federico II” in Italy, with a major focus on reproduction and cell differentiation. My fascination for genetics and neuroscience led me to the lab of Dr. Di Schiavi. There, in my MSc, I characterized mutant genes involved in Parkinson-like disease in Caenorhabditis elegans. For my PhD, I joined the lab of Dr. Neukomm at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in Switzerland to identify essential mechanisms for the survival of the axon and its synapse in Drosophila.
I was recently awarded a Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship co-funded by the Leading House ETH Zürich in Switzerland. It supports a 3-month scientific exchange between Japan and Switzerland. Hence I joined the lab of Dr. Terenzio at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) because it offers an excellent environment to decipher whether local mRNA translation is an essential maintenance mechanism in axons and synapses.

Alessandro Massaro (Research Intern from May 2022 to August 2022)

I graduated as a MSc at the university of Palermo, Italy. My focus during my year of research for the Master's thesis was on the impact of obesity-linked low grade chronic inflammation and oxidative stress on the onset of T2DM, and the role that dietary antioxidant phytochemicals can have on the treatment and prevention of such disease. After my graduation a kept attending the same laboratory as a research volunteer jr. scientist and started studying the metabolic implications of the development of senile dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, now often called Type 3 Diabetes Mellitus (T3DM), in contrast to healthy aging, and the possible role of antioxidants in slowing its onset.
I decided to join OIST and Prof. Terenzio's Unit because I wanted to broaden and deepen my knowledge both practical and theoretical on Neuroscience to further continue my research, inspired by the multicultural and multidisciplinary environment of the institute.

Yang Ming (Rotation Student from May to August, 2022)

I obtained my master's degree from Tzu Chi University in Taiwan, during which I investigated the functional role of the Cav3.2 T-type calcium channel in autistic-like behaviors with Dr. Ingrid Liu. To further broaden my knowledge of the central nervous system, I then joined Dr. Jun-An Chen’s lab at Academia Sinica as a research assistant focusing on non-coding RNA dysregulation in the motor neuron disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). My experiences through these years not only reinforced my interest in neuroscience but made me reflect on more far-reaching questions about the field. How do the excitatory and inhibitory neurons function in harmony? How does the brain compute the multitude of sensory inputs to determine response output? And how do the neurons and neural circuits properly form or become dysregulated during development and degeneration? I am eager to address such complicated yet tasteful questions during my Ph.D. studies.

Tara Helmi Turkki (Rotation Student from May to August, 2022)

I obtained my BSc in biochemistry and cell biology with a minor in psychology at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany and have come to OIST to focus my research to the field of molecular neuroscience with a special interest in neurodegenerative diseases and neuron regeneration. My interests began back in high school when I first had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the power and potential of research in terms of long-term improvement of human health, as well as expanding the limits of our knowledge of the brain. Throughout my PhD, I aim to reach for that potential, never stop asking questions, and learn new things with every new obstacle that I face. 

Ayane Mitoro (Research Intern from September to October, 2022)

I am in the 4th grade of my Bachelor’s degree in Medicine at Kyoto University. In course of my medical studies, I have learned about many diseases involving the nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson’s disease and others. And sadly, those diseases are often intractable. I became particularly interested in the fact that the once the central nervous system is damaged, it cannot be repaired. Now as a research intern, this unit gave me the chance to research about the kinetics of a protein in axons, one of the important structures of central nerve cells. I believe that this opportunity to learn research techniques on interesting topics will motivate me to study more in the future.


Sophie Elizabeth Field (Research Intern from October, 2022 to March, 2023)

In 2020 I graduated my BSc from the University of British Columbia, Canada, where I also did my honours thesis in chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy at the University New South Wales, Australia. This is where my love of neuroscience began and inspired me to pursue an MRes in Translational Neuroscience at University College London. During my MRes I changed my focus to human neuroimaging studies, specifically looking at the rate of atrophy across the lifetime of Huntington disease patients. From here I had the opportunity to stay on as a Research assistant to work one on one with Huntington disease patients for multiple research studies and clinical trials. I have been very fortunate to try multiple disciplines with neuroscience in my career so far and discover my passion for experimental wet lab research. I wanted to go back to learning the fundamentals of axonal transport, cultivate stronger lab skills and the excellent environment of the Terenzio Unit has been the perfect place to nurture this.