Makoto Kuro-O

Born: January 7, 1960 | Tochigi, JP
Photograph of Makoto Kuro-o

Makoto Kuro-O grew up in Tokyo, the younger of two children. At an early age Kuro-O decided he liked science. He attended the local elementary and junior high schools, and after graduating high school, contemplated becoming a doctor. He entered medical school at University of Tokyo. Kuro-O became interested in cardiology and describes his first basic laboratory experience. He did his PhD while spending at least half of his time seeing patients. He met Ryozo Nagai and joined his lab at Tokyo University. Kuro-O then accepted a position at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He talks about his move to the United States; setting up his laboratory; funding in general and specifically the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work; his lab management style; his teaching responsibilities; and his research on the age-suppressor gene. The interview concludes with Kuro-O's comments on collaborations in science, serendipity in his work, gender and ethnic issues in science, his first impressions of the United States, and a comparison of science in Japan and the United States.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0615
No. of pages: 83
Minutes: 351

Interview Sessions

Robin Mejia
6-8 March 2006
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Abstract of Interview

Makoto Kuro-O grew up in Tokyo, the younger of two children. His father was an engineer, providing air conditioning systems for large structures like the Tokyo train stations. His mother went to college but did not work after she married. At an early age Kuro-O decided he liked science. He attended the local elementary and junior high schools, but a national high school. His high school chemistry and physics teachers were enthusiastic about their subjects and helpful to Kuro-O. At this point he contemplated becoming a doctor; he talks about the higher education system in Japan, his experience getting into medical school, his parents' expectations. He entered medical school at University of Tokyo. Because his father had a heart attack during Kuro-O's second year in medical school, Kuro-O became interested in cardiology and describes his first basic laboratory experience. He did his PhD while spending at least half of his time seeing patients. He met Ryozo Nagai and joined his lab at Tokyo University. Here he discusses his funding; Nagai's research interests; publishing articles; and his postdoctoral work in genetics at the National Institute of Neuroscience of Japan on the age-suppressor gene in mice. During his last year of internship Kuro-O met and married his wife. Kuro-O then accepted a position at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He talks about his move to the United States; setting up his laboratory; funding in general and specifically the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work; his lab management style; his teaching responsibilities; and his research on the age-suppressor gene. Next Kuro-O discusses a little more of his research on the age-suppressor gene, his current research on the anti-aging protein and renal disease, and practical applications of his research. Kuro-O then moves on to talk about his future research on the functions of the Klotho protein and about his collaborations, tenure at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, his administrative duties, his role in the lab, the running of his laboratory, the process of writing journal articles, and patents. He also describes a typical work day. The interview concludes with Kuro-O's comments on collaborations in science, serendipity in his work, gender and ethnic issues in science, his first impressions of the United States, and a comparison of science in Japan and the United States.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 University of Tokyo MD
1991 University of Tokyo PhD

Professional Experience

Tokyo University Hospital

1985 to 1986
Intern

Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital

1986 to 1987
Intern
1987 to 1988
Resident in Internal Medicine (Cardiology)

University of Tokyo

1988 to 1991
Clinical Fellow, the 3rd Department of Internal Medicine

National Institute of Neuroscience (NCNP)

1991 to 1994
Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Molecular Genetics
1994 to 1998
Domestic Research Fellow, Division of Molecular Genetics

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

1998 to 2006
Assistant Professor of Pathology
1998 to 2006
Southwestern Medical Foundation Scholar in Biomedical Research
2006
Associate Professor of Pathology

Honors

Year(s) Award
1992

Young Investigator's Award, Japanese Circulation Society

1997

Irvine H. Page Arteriosclerosis Research Awards for Young Investigators(Finalist), American Heart Association

1998

Erwin von Bälz Preis, Boehringer Ingelheim

1999

President's Research Council Distinguished Young Researcher Award,UT Southwestern

1999 to 2003

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

2000

Ornish Award in Alzheimer's Disease Research, UT Southwestern

Table of Contents

Childhood and Education in Tokyo, Japan
1

Family background. Early schooling. Growing up in Tokyo, Japan. Father'soccupation. Influential teachers. Decision to pursue science. Attends a nationalhigh school. Parental expectations. Higher education system in Japan. Attendsmedical school at University of Tokyo. Sister. First basic laboratory experience. Summer research experience at University of Vermont. Joins Dr. Ryozo Nagai'slab at Tokyo University. Funding. Dr. Nagai's research interests. Postdoctoralwork in genetics at the National Institute of Neuroscience of Japan on theage-suppressor gene in mice. Meets and marries wife. Receives doctorate. Writing journal articles.

Moving to the United States and Setting Up a Laboratory
24

Reasons for accepting a position at the University of Texas Southwestern MedicalCenter. Move to the United States. Setting up laboratory. Funding history. PewScholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Grant-writing process. Labmanagement style. Teaching responsibilities. Research on the age-suppressorgene Current research on the anti-aging protein and renal disease. Practicalapplications of research.

Future Research and Reflections on Science in the United States and Japan
45

Future research on the functions of the Klotho protein. Collaborations. Tenure atUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Administrative duties. Rolein the lab. Writing journal articles. Typical workday. Patents. Gender. Underrepresented minorities in science. First impressions of the United States. Science in Japan. Professional and personal goals.

Index
66

About the Interviewer

Robin Mejia