May 2011

Meet some international members

 

For our global science issue, we asked several of our international members to answer some questions about themselves and science in their countries. 


Maurizio Brunori

Professor in the department of biochemical sciences
Sapienza – Università di Roma
Rome, Italy

How long have you been an ASBMB member?
Maybe as much as 40 years? I am not sure. I believe it was not called ASBMB yet. My name was submitted by my mentor, Professor John Fuller Taylor, a pupil of Mansfield Clarke.

What do you study?
My field of research has been, by and large, the structure, function and dynamics of proteins. I worked on myoglobin and hemoglobin for years and then on oxidases and other redox proteins. Over the last decade or so, my main interest has been protein folding.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
Limiting myself to the life sciences, structural biology of proteins, stem cells and cellular therapy, immunology and molecular oncology, and micro RNA and cellular control.

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
Unfortunately, at present the perspective is very negative. Many politicians talk about the roles of research and universities as essential components for the recovery of Italian national and international standing, but there is very little positive action. Very few of our research institutions command the respect of the public. We still have good students sometimes, but many of our best Ph.D.s go abroad for good. If there is no serious change in the course of action, the shortest response to your question would be: down the drain.

Are there any barriers to collaboration?
It is so variable from place to place that I can hardly present a sensible answer. In principle, of course, collaboration is encouraged and sometimes it works well. Italians working abroad, and especially in the U.S., have been very hospitable and positive.

Where do you get most of your funding?
The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, private foundations, and the European Union.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
The paucity of funds for curiosity-driven science and of grants targeted to younger researchers makes it difficult for most starting scientists (no matter how smart) to become financially independent and thus to pursue their ideas. If and when they succeed, it is often because they are protected by the system. Moreover, the peer review procedure needs to be perfected, and evaluation of merit should have concrete effects in the allocation of resources.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
Yes. At the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany (with Manfred Eigen) and afterward at the University of Illinois in Urbana with Gregorio Weber (both in the second half of the sixties).


Monique Decastel

Researcher
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale
Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

How long have you been an ASBMB member?
I have been a member since 2010.

What do you study?
I am studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the physiopathology of sickle cell anemia, an inherited disorder characterized by a defect in hemoglobin synthesis.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
Knowledge and valorization of tropical plants (at CIRAD, INRA and the University of the French West Indies); health, sickle cell disease, prostate and colorectal cancers (at INSERM, the Sickle Cell Center and the University Hospital Center); and volcanic and seismic studies (at the Magma and Volcano laboratory).

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
I think it will focus more on valorization of pharmacopoeia and agronomy and on development of new therapeutic strategies to improve sickle patients' quality of life.

Are there any barriers to collaboration?
No.

Where do you get most of your funding?
From France, Europe and local organizations such as Conseil Régional and Conseil Général.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
Guadeloupe is a French West Indies island located in a strategic place (the Caribbean and Central America) that represents Europe in this part of the globe. We have our proper culture, history and economy. So our research is centered on subjects specific to the area.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
Yes, at the Laboratorium voor Biochemie, Faculteit van de Wetenschappen, Rijksuniversiteit Gent, Belgium and Uppsala University Sweden.


Ashwini Kumar Nepal

Graduate student in the department of biochemistry
B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences
Dharan, Nepal

How long have you been an ASBMB member?
I have been a member for two years.

What do you study?
I am hoping to earn an M.Sc. in medical biochemistry.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
Micronutrients (zinc, iodine, iron) and supplementation, endocrinology (thyroid hormones, thyroglobulin, etc), diabetes screening, infectious diseases (tuberculosis, visceral leishmaniasis, HIV, malaria), antioxidant and oxidative stress in various diseases, waste water analysis, prevalence based studies (e.g., snakebites, diarrhea, sanitation, maternal mortality), and clinical research.

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
There are very limited sources of funding for research in Nepal from the government. Research in the next 5 to 10 years is expected to get more funding from governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies, and collaborators. Advanced laboratory facilities for molecular methods and other recent technologies for experimental research need to be established. There is a lot to be done to meet the emerging research needs to improve the health and nutrition status of the population.

Are there any barriers to collaboration?
No, there is no barrier for collaboration. However, more international collaboration is needed on our part for technology transfer and development of the capacity of the local researchers.

Where do you get most of your funding?
The government provides very limited funding for research due to poor economic conditions. However, there is some funding for university faculty members through the university research committees and grant commissions. Students get no funding at all for their research. Most of the funding for research is through international collaboration.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
Research in Nepal differs from that in the United States in that we have to deal with emerging infectious diseases and malnutrition, diarrhea, maternal mortality, snake/mosquito bites, etc., which developed countries usually don’t have. So more focus is needed to improve the health status of the communities by creating awareness and conducting research, which will have a significant effect on enhancing health standards of the population.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
No.


Helmut Sies

Professor of biochemistry
Heinrich Heine Universitat
Dusseldorf, Germany

How long have you been an ASBMB member?
Since 1988.

What do you study?
Oxidative stress, oxidants and antioxidants, redox signaling, micronutrients (carotenoids, polyphenols, selenium), nutritional biochemistry, hepatic metabolism, vascular responses, and cell-cell communication.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
Structural biology, systems biology, stem cell research, neurobiology, hepatology and cardiovascular biology.

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
I predict more disparity between large, high-level research clusters at universities (for example, the Excellence Initiative) and nonuniversity organizations (such as the Leibniz, Helmholtz and Fraunhofer institutes) on one hand and the normal university research chairs on the other.

As for research topics, the big questions tackled worldwide will also be tackled in Germany.
The research atmosphere is good (although one can always complain on a high level).

Are there any barriers to collaboration?
Fortunately not.

Where do you get most of your funding?
From the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (the German equivalent of the National Institutes of Health) and also the National Foundation for Cancer Research in Bethesda, Md.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
There is no fundamental difference in my view. Competitive grants are the mainstay. My feeling is that cooperation among German scientists themselves could be encouraged more, but the core grants at local universities (Sonderforschungsbereich) do a good job at this.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
During my postdoctoral research time at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University at Munich I had the privilege to spend research visits with Britton Chance at the Johnson Research Foundation in Philadelphia.


Yumi Tohyama

Professor in the division of biochemistry, faculty of pharmaceutical sciences
Himeji Dokkyo University
Himeji, Japan

How long have you been an ASBMB member?
I have been an ASBMB member for five years.

What do you study?
I study the molecular mechanism of immune/blood cells from the viewpoint of the signal transduction system, especially phagocytic cells, including macrophages, osteoclasts and neutrophils.

What are some hot research areas in your country?
In Japan, one hot area is research on induced pluripotent stem cells related to regeneration medicine, and another area is the epigenetic study of malignant neoplastic disease. The inflammatory mechanism in innate immunity is also a hot area.

Where do you see research going in your country in 5 to 10 years?
Research leading to a novel technology that generates safe energy including biologic energy or plant biology.

Are there any barriers to collaboration?
I do not think so.

Where do you get most of your funding?
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

How do you think research in your country differs most from research in the United States?
In Japan, it seems to me, few researchers exchange between public laboratories and other ones.

Did you do any of your training abroad?
I did not.

Nicole KresgeNicole Kresge (nkresge@asbmb.org) is the editor of ASBMB Today.


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COMMENTS:

I have to say, you did a very good job beside the barrier from "debré". Keep going and god bless you and Guadeloupe's research

 

 

yes Nepal needs funding especially in the field of molecular biology and biochemistry for providing better health to our people

 

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