Much peace, love and joy to you all in 2016




We hope that this winter finds you well. For us, it was a year of transition. Last summer, my mother's health declined rapidly. I urgently alerted Stephanie (just beginning her annual stay in Tennessee) and Kye (a graduate student in California). Both returned in time to see my mother, who rallied for about 10 days before leaving us on August 9th.


Per Japanese custom for families in mourning, we are not sending out New Year's cards for 2016.

Greeting card



Last year also found us facing another challenge. A 4cm polyp with a cancerous tip was discovered just inside my colon. It was removed by ESD (endoscopic submucosal dissection), a non-invasive technique pioneered by my doctor for cases such as mine. Had my diagnosis come a decade earlier, I might have endured major intervention incorporating a colostomy. Today, thanks to progressive medicine, I am playing tennis several times weekly and glorying in my recovery.

ESD figure




Though I officially retired in March 2013, a fortunate arrangement has allowed me to carry on in the same Osaka University department as an invited researcher. In April 2015, however, I segued from being a “salaried” invitee to a “non-salaried” presence. As last year revolved around health and loss, I was unable to progress significantly with my research. In 2016, my goal is to uncover a new finding to contribute to the scientific community.


昨年から、なにものにも縛られることのない研究ができる環境になりました。この自由度を最大限に生かして、仙人のような研究(超純粋な魂に基づく研究: 何のコッチャ?)を成し遂げてみたいというのが今年の目標です。楽しみです。

In 2015, I started to receive my pension. This transition has been greatly liberating. The heavy cloak of administrative duties has been lifted from my shoulders, and the feeling of being fully free to research is magnificently refreshing. In 2016, my goal is to exploit this to the fullest and contribute the purest of research with a sort of "禅(Zen)" feeling to the pool of scientific knowledge.

Sennin figure


Mendel Poster


In autumn of 2015, I was fortunate to travel to the Czech Republic as an invited Mendel Lecturer. My talk was given in St. Thomas’s Augustinian Abbey in Brno, in the very hall used by Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics.




Following my talk, Stephanie and I returned via Austria, where we lingered a few days in the lovely Sacher Hotel to savor Vienna’s irresistible delights. One morning over breakfast, a lady arose from the adjacent table and approached, addressing us by name. You could have toppled us with a feather, as this fellow lodger hailed from our very neighborhood! Proof positive that it’s a small world.

greeting card




Kye is now in his 2nd year of the PhD program in electrical engineering at Stanford. I look forward to having him explain his research goals to me in some detail down the line. For now, I am pleased that he seems both committed and interested.



Each year, a calligraphy sample in our dining room proclaims the zodiac animal for the year ahead. Though the brushwork has always been my solitary undertaking, Stephanie and Kye tried their hand (ahem!) just for kicks this year. While the family endeavor was fun, the resulting monkey on the wall remains mine



Isotani, A., Yamagata, K., Okabe, M. and Ikawa, M. Generation of Hprt-disrupted rat through mouse-rat ES chimeras. Scientific reports 6, 24215, doi:10.1038/srep24215 (2016).