Jan. 8, 2021
Helping regenerative ideas flourish
Cody Kime, Special Postdoctoral Researcher/Cell Reprogramming Team Lead
Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research
Describe your role at RIKEN.
I have assembled a team focused on creating new cell reprogramming systems to practically address retinal disease and vision loss. I am also a young investigator in the Organoid Project at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR). I specialize in the emerging field of synthetic embryogenesis; we are working to generate early embryo-like structures and cells from reprogrammed stem cells.
How did you become interested in your field?
I fell in love with cell reprogramming when I was asked to review Shinya Yamanaka’s seminal 2006 and 2007 papers on iPS cells while at university in the United States.
How and when did you join RIKEN?
I joined Masayo Takahashi’s Lab for Retinal Regeneration (the Retina Lab) in 2015 as an International Program Associate while enrolled for medical science at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine. Dr Takahashi is doing some of the world’s most cutting-edge work on retinal regeneration with iPS cells in collaboration with Dr Yamanaka. I wanted to join RIKEN to work in the developmental biology environment from which my field originated, so I proposed a new cell reprogramming method to treat retinal disease, and the Retina Lab agreed to develop it with me.
What has been your most memorable experience at RIKEN?
The moment that I had concrete evidence that my synthetic embryos could implant and grow in the uterus of a fertile mouse mother was, by far, the most life-changing moment for me at RIKEN. I was shaking and crying as the importance of that fact became real to me.
How has being at RIKEN helped your research?
RIKEN, Dr Takahashi and the Retina Lab have supported my research with funds and enthusiasm for more than five years. The Retina Lab’s doctors provide critical medical insight and incredibly rare retina transplant skills. I also performed my most critical embryo transplant tests with Dr Hiroshi Kiyonari of BDR’s Lab for Animal Resources and Genetic Engineering (LARGE). Recently, I started working with the Takasato and Kuraku labs at the BDR to expand my skills in single cell RNA sequencing through advanced Next Generation Sequencing/bioinformatics. In Yokohama, Piero Carninci, Erik Arner and their associates at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences have been key collaborators, helping me to train and experiment with completely new bioinformatics and analytical technologies developed at RIKEN.
What do you wish you had known before you came to Japan?
I wish I had known more about the quality of day-to-day life in Japan. Living in Japan has its pros and cons, but it feels very safe and has the highest level of convenience (transportation, food, school, finance, etc.) that I have ever seen. I have a family, so those qualities are incredibly valuable. Also, the quality of raw and prepared foods here is so high that nearly everything is really a treat to eat.